Is Kushti, one of India's most oldest sports, suddenly cool again?
In September, veteran cinematographer Navroze Contractor released a book chronicling what he called the “dying tradition of wrestling” in India’s akhadas.
But wrestling has been all over pop culture this year. Sakshi Malik became the first Indian woman to win a wrestling at the Olympics in August. The Salman Khan-starring Sultan, telling the comeback story of a middle-aged wrestler, and ended up grossing more than Rs 500 crore.
And a few days ago the trailer for Dangal, based on the true story of Haryana’s Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) who successfully coached his daughter Geeta Phogat to a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, was released.
So what does kushti, away from the Olympic mats and off the silver screen, actually look like?
The above video shows Dronacharya awardee Maha Singh Rao taking his students through a backbreaking training regime at New Delhi's Guru Hanuman Akhara, which founded in 1925 is India's oldest wrestling school and has produced the likes of Dara Singh, Sushil Kumar, Yogendra Kumar, amongst others.
Here are two videos from Wild Films India which aims to document South Asian cultures. The films show a wrestling match from up close and pehelwans practising at dawn.
Last year, YouTube channel Vanishing Flame in an attempt to document ancient South Asian martial arts cultures released a series of outtakes, each about a different element of the training in an akhara: Jori and Gada swinging, malkhamb and so on.