Paan Singh Tomar: Review

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.

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3 thoughts on “Paan Singh Tomar: Review

  1. Hi Anon, you may love the movie and yes many have loved it. But wheres the critical eye of the connoisseur!
    For instance, a critic might still say direction dramatically fizzles out in the second half of the movie, even though its a fairly balanced script etc etc.
    your condescension about hindi movies shows some ignorance about what has been fantastic and what hasnt in the industry, and you must recognize that item songs, music and dance form a part of our genres, widely catching up and appreciated across the world (except probably in gratingly jealous hollywood?). Did you notice the titillating rural stories (with item songs too!) in Ishqiya, Saheb biwi aur gangster, dev d, omkaara, Maan gaye obama etc etc etc?
    I came for a film review but it seems to have descended into a personal ‘i love’ blogpost. Which is not uninteresting at all, but 🙂

  2. Hey Rasputin,
    Don’t go just by the main critics in India, they must have their brains addled by all the movies they have to watch. Not to mention that they interact closely with many people involved. So a pinch of salt.
    Even critically I think its a great one. Like I said, I thought cinematography and music let it down. There are moments that lead into a scene, a small boy peeking in to see what the sounds are before we are shown the son being beaten up, things like these keep it alive for me throughout the entire length. And this is a particular trait of direction. Every scene is alive and kicking.
    If anything I would say that the story itself was very straight forward, good guy bad guy. Even that I felt was done extremely well in a balanced way. I truly don’t have many complaints and feel that this is one that shouldn’t just be lauded but become a super duper hit.

    I wasn’t hiding the condescension btw 🙂 have you watched Arakshan, Bodyguard, and Ra One one after the other?

  3. Pingback: Response: A Twisted Tale – Reviewing Kahaani | Critical Twenties

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