PAAN SINGH TOMAR
It is not very often that one gets to see two new Bollywood movies of a high caliber within a week. And as if to prove that audience tastes in India for Bollywood movies have, in fact, changed for the better, both these movies have performed surprisingly well at the box-office. Sujoy Dutta’s KAHAANI (reviewed last week) and Tigmanshu Dhulia’s PAAN SINGH TOMAR are making waves in areas of both critical acclaim and the return on investment for the makers.
After a long hiatus from when he debuted on the directorial scene, Tigmanshu Dhulia came back last year with two very different and powerful low budget movies: the Nana Patekar starrer SHAGIRD and the Randeep Hooda starrer SAHIB, BIWI AUR GANGSTER. And with PAAN SINGH TOMAR now under his belt, Tigmanshu has firmly established himself as a story teller of class.
As the true tale of India’s steeple chase champion turned dacoit unfolds on the screen, we witness the lead character displaying emotions like excitement (almost child-like, when he wins his races), helplessness (when he is refused permission to fight the war), frustration (when his complaint goes unheeded), physical desire (when he meets his wife after a long time), revenge (when he confronts those who have heaped injustice on him) and sadness (when he feels betrayed). And full credit must go to Irrfan Khan for breathing life into the character of the hero turned villain. He is outstanding in all respects and amongst the movies released this year till now, his performance as a lead male actor is easily the best. He is ably supported by Mahie Gill, who has a brief role as his wife, but who also is becoming type-cast as a person much in demand for roles demanding active participation in love-making scenes!
The dusty terrains and the hide-outs of the dacoits are faithfully captured by the cameraman, although technically, we have begun to expect a much higher minimum standard of excellence in the area of cinematography. The other negative point is that at several places, the movie begins to look like a documentary, despite it being just two hours long. The writer hasn’t tried to deviate from the main plot and this ensures that there are hardly any SHOLAY like dramatic scenes or punch-packed dialogues.
The most touching part of the movie comes in the end when the credits start rolling in and the names of a few of our celebrated sportsmen who died uncared are listed. And if this movie can help bring to light the plight of such of the sports heroes who haven’t turned dacoits, it has served another useful purpose!
RATING: 4 out of 5
March 18, 2012