“Paan Singh Tomar” and “Kahaani”
Like every year, Bollywood continued its January jinx at the box office this year too. However, two meaningful films won our hearts in March this year, proving once again, that content still rules and everything else is a meaningless frill. Coming back to the two films – both “Kahaani” and “Paan Singh Tomar” stole the show and viewers savored every bit of the frames of both these films. I’ll begin with “Paan Singh Tomar.”
“Paan Singh Tomar”
Some films are never heard of before their release, and later when they release, they strike a chord with everyone. “Paan Singh Tomar” is one such film and nobody imagined it to be this popular. Of course, the reason is, the ever -reliable and convincing acting of Irrfan Khan as Paan Singh Tomar. The story of Paan Singh, a national athletics champion, is inspired by real -life events but sprinkled with funny and fictionalized incidents. Paan Singh joins the Indian Army as a Subedar from the village of Morena in Madhya Pradesh, India. He does so, as he feels it is the only place to satisfy his large appetite easily, and get paid.
We further get to know about Paan Singh’s time in the army, when he tells his story to a man who interviews him. Likewise, the film flashbacks to show a younger Paan Singh, who worked in the Indian Army. We see him reporting back late from leave. He is punished and asked to run and take 10 rounds of a ground with his luggage. And here begins the fun part of the film – Paan’s running. He finishes running 10 rounds, faster than the others and hence his officer does not believe him. A senior manager happens to see him run at the same time, and quips – “For the first time, I’m seeing a man enjoy his punishment so much!”
This spreads the word around and convinces a few of the senior officers about Paan’s running abilities. Another interesting incident used by Dhulia, the director, to emphasize the athleticism of Paan is the ‘ice-cream’ incident, where Paan is directed by his officer to deliver a packet of ice-cream to a senior officer’s house at the earliest. The only condition – ice-cream should not melt and should be delivered the before the officer himself reaches home. Paan’s senior strikes a deal saying – if he succeeds, then he will be allowed to join the sports team of the Army. And Paan succeeds and delivers the packet in 4 minutes and he does all this by running.
All the moments in the film, where Paan runs, whether during practice, punishment or competition, turn out to be the most delightful moments of this film.
The first half of the film shows Paan as a national level champion, devoted to the nation. The second half shows him turning into a rebel and a dreaded dacoit. The director balances this contradiction in a controlled and matured way. Neither he hails the national record holder Paan and catapults him to dizzy heights nor he shows him as a pitiful figure, when he turns a dacoit to defend his property and family. This dramatic change does not appear as a jolt, but rather as smooth turn.
Tigmanshu Dhulia tells a poignant story in a nice way and steers clear of pathos, unlike a KJo. The film tugs at your heart when Paan Singh dies. It also makes you think about the ignorance of the government towards these fallen stars, when snippets of such struggling sportsmen roll, before the end credits.
Irrfan Khan in this author backed role is superb. His act looks completely effortless yet convincing. He is ably supported by Mahie Gill, as Paan Singh’s wife, and together they create some funny intimate moments in the film. This film is definitely a must watch.