While everyone is raving about the cinematic experience that Dangal is, one particular man in Ludhiana is fuming at the movie. Former chief national wrestling coach and Geeta Phogat’s trainer during the 2010 Commonwealth Games, PR Sondhi is extremely upset at the portrayal of his character in the film, who is shown to be an incompetent and corrupt man.
Sondhi, who trained Geeta during the 2010 Commonwealth Games, concedes that his name was not used in the movie, but condemns the bad light it casts on national coaches at large. “I understand that you have to have some element of entertainment in every film, but to drag the coach’s image through the mud for the sake of masala is just wrong,” he says indignantly over a phone call from Phagwara, Punjab.
In the movie, Geeta’s coach, Pramod Kadam, is shown to be an egotistical, publicity-hungry personality, at constant loggerheads with Mahavir Singh Phogat about training techniques.
One stresses on defence while the other insists on attack. There’s one point in the film where the coach even locks Mahavir up in a room, during his daughter’s match. Sondhi categorically denies any issues with Phogat.
“I was one of the four coaches to train the Indian wrestling team during the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The team had Geeta and a number of other women, including Sakshi Malik (who won a medal at the Olympics this year).
"During the entire process, never did any of us have any kind of conflict with Phogat. And all that locking him up in a room is also complete rubbish,” he states confidently, adding that the women’s coach for the 2012 Olympics games, OP Yadav, also had no such problems with the wrestler.
Indeed, the coach says that Mahavir was not even present for most of the training sessions for the Commonweath games. “He came by for one or two of the training sessions, at the most, and he was always such a gentleman. He never really offered any extra advice or interfered in any way, as is shown in the film,” he reminisces.
Sondhi is all praise for Mahavir Phogat, and commends his efforts for training his daughters to be national-level wrestlers. “I think that it was some of the finest work of his life. To be able to groom two ordinary girls in a way that they are national-level wrestling champions is very commendable,” he signs off....