The After Hrs reveiw: Paan Singh Tomar
Film: Paan Singh Tomar
Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Mahie Gill, Zakir Hussain
If some light-hearted entertainment’s on your mind, then probably this is not the film for you. But if it’s a piece of good cinema that you are looking out for, then you can’t give this one a miss. It’s not the first time that director Tigmanshu Dhulia’s delving into the rustic terrains of the North, he did it with Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster too, and in this one, he takes us straight to the rugged ravines of the Chambal, where dacoit subedar Paan Singh Tomar (Irrfan) has a stronghold of terror. A dacoit for the world, he however, considers himself a rebel and the film based on the true story of Paan Singh traces his journey from being a simple peace-loving army-man to becoming one of the most wanted dacoits. But it’s not just the sob story of a dacoit that the film highlights here, it also shines the spotlight on the apathy that the system treats our sportsmen with (barring of course the cricketers). Being an athlete in the army, he’s not sent to the war front despite several requests, but then Paan plunges into the races on a war-footing, making winning them his only goal, and he wins too. But while celebrated there, back home people have little regard for his achievements, including the system, as he points out that there was no hero’s welcome for him, nor was any record maintained of the victory. He may have been in the army to protect the country, but when he returns home he is hit by the bitter truth that there is no one to protect his own family, as his cousin brothers try to take their lands unlawfully by brute power. When the system fails to save his lands or his family from being attacked, is when Paan takes to the gun, reluctantly. It’s a decision he takes when left with no choice and is bitter about it to the end, that a simple man was driven to adopt such desperate measures.
The film is Paan’s story and Irrfan completely makes it his own on screen. An effortless performer, he proves himself yet again. The dialogues hit home each time, but are not without the humour when required, that despite the gritty nature of the film doesn’t fail to make one smile. The scenes he shares with wife (Mahie) are endearing, and the scenes with a journalist, funny. This was a story with many complicated layers, but the director backed by a strong team of actors manages to do justice. The sepia-texture of the film has a docu-drama touch adding to the film’s realistic approach. The brilliant cinematography deserves a mention here.
On the downside, the language proves to be a hindrance at times and one can’t help but feel that it’s a regional film. Though the second half doesn’t lose pace, it’s not as crisp as the first half. Overall, it’s not a film that you’d want to watch as you munch on popcorn, but it does provide enough food for thought and is definitely worth your money.
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