The 26-year-old wrestler, Babita Phogat, was part of a free self-defence workshop.
The presence of the real Dangal girls on the silver screen gave it the extra edge and the makers laughed all the way to the bank thanks to this highest-grossing Bollywood film ever. The original wrestling sister duo Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari were part of a self-defence workshop by Grand Master Akshar in Bengaluru on Saturday. We spoke to the younger of the two sisters Babita Phogat (26) who ditched her wrestling shorts and turned out in one of her glamourous avatars for a candid chat about her struggles and challenges.
How has life changed after the success of the film that brought them overnight fame? Babita answers in her fluent Hindi, “Every nook and cranny that I go to, people stand up and recognise us now. It wasn’t the case before Dangal. All the kids across India say that they want to grow up and become Geeta and Babita and wake up at 5 am. Some of them have even gone to the akhadas and are giving wrestling a shot. So many parents who used to keep their girls under ghoonghat (veil) have now changed and are letting their girls go out,” says a delighted Babita.
She also talks about the larger impact. “Sex ratio is also changing in the State and we hope that people’s mindset change for the better. Also our personal lives have changed. We were quite carefree earlier and would rattle off anything but now since we’re in the public eye all the time, we can’t even speak freely.”
The cute wrestler, however, is focussed about her upcoming ambition. She reveals with a smile, “Our goal is to win a medal in the Olympics. Till we win that we’re not resting in peace. I’m a shopaholic and cannot resist the lure of shopping. Even today, I requested the organisers to give me some time off for my shopping. I lived in Bengaluru for two months last year, and I was here training for the Olympics.”
Ask her about her wedding plans and the Commonwealth Games winner reveals, “I can get married anytime but I cannot get stronger in my game anytime later. It has to be done now. I have a lifetime to get married. We owe it all to our dad and if we had any other coach other than him then I think we would have given up long back. He pushed our limits and made us realise our full potential. He is stricter than what is showed in the movie and we never had a day of rest. We would tell our mum — agar pure din machine ko chalaoge to usse bhi rest ki zarurat padegi, hum to phir bhi insaan hain. And she would, in return, tell us that this is the time to put in our best efforts. However, even though our dad puts up a strong front is quite emotional at heart.”