I entered the hall with much anxiety. My previous Hindi movies, Arakshan, Bodyguard, Ra.One and Rockstar had managed to instill a terrible fear of Hindi movies. But to watch Irrfan Khan in a biopic could only mean a rare treat. So I decided to brave the Hindi movie making industry.
What a what a movie. The writing is so excellent that the movie almost jumps out of the screen and envelopes you. The acting is, I don’t know how to say it. Excellent would be a very unsatisfying word to use for him in the movie. Irrfan Khan’s acting has never been flashy, and even here he quietly eats the character up. Never once getting bogged down by the intensity or circumstances of his character. He plays. And what fun it is to see him play. The story is alive, engaging and valid throughout the entire movie. With almost no moments of glory and superlative performances by the entire cast. And there are no songs. They don’t come out of nowhere and go into nowhere at regular intervals throughout the movie. There is no item song. (I had actually begun to get so conditioned to having them there, that I would just sigh and wait for them to get over.) Ah! What a relief it was to watch this movie and come out of the cinema halls. What a stupendous relief.
I suppose if one wasn’t fed the usual diet of Hindi movies neither would one feel such a crippling relief and nor gush like a teenager at this movie. If this became the commonplace and every movie was of this standard who knows, we might even make different choices in our society. Thank you Tigmanshu Dhulia, for making me feel completely vindicated in hating Rang De Basanti and Guru. For giving me a better reference point. The director has shown the potential of indian stories. So many stories in our country, and so many possibilities of re-telling them.
The film is extremely well directed, super extremely written. There are faces and pictures from India that you rarely get to see on the big screen. It doesn’t feel like the story or the screenplay is fitted to market the off beat concept well, like a Taare Zamin Par (the boy is a genius who wins the art competition) or Peepli Live (well packaged). Watching an Amir Khan Production used to always manage to make me feel like a pack of processed meat. A sitting duck on the frozen food section in the supermarket. I do think he is still better than most others. However, with Paan Singh Tomar I feel free to address the resentment I felt towards being manipulated in marketing and packaging. Coming back to the story, all the characters manage to have an arc whatever the time they have on screen.
The cinematography of the movie is a bit of a dicey situation. On one hand it manages to capture the light and colors of the setting and gives some incredibly beautiful pictures but I had this distinct feeling that the camera work, especially the movement of the camera (there are very few fixed frame close ups, the camera is always moving closer, or up and down). I personally felt that the writing and the story was so excellent that a more classic method of cinematography would have complemented the film. Allowing for some moments of stillness (a la Kandhar). In this movie, it felt like an unnecessary third character. But a third character nonetheless. Not all the times, but still.
The music however is completely rubbish. soaring, dramatic. It felt like it belonged to another movie playing in the next hall and the tapes had gotten mixed. If these two things they had managed to fix, this could have been the greatest movie to come out of the Hindi movie industry since forever I felt.
Thank you Tigmanshu Dhulia and Irrfan Khan. Just, Thank you. They must have shown a lot of people how it’s done with this one. I hope this becomes a super hit.