Review of Latest Hindi Movies: Paan Singh Tomar - Catch me If you Can

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Paan Singh Tomar - Catch me If you Can

There are some movies that you want dont want to watch just may hate it or love it..its a different issue, but you will watch it.. Ek Deewana Tha was one of them..and the other was Paan Singh Tomar. I shall readily admit that I was under intense pressure to watch this movie, so like a good socialble human being I succumbed .. And for the umpteenth time in my life (listening to advice and recommendation from friends is  mostlly beneficial ) ... I admit I just loved the movie.

The story is a rather simple one (and forgotten as it has never been a part of our educational curriculum). Paan Singh Tomar (PST as I shall call him), belongs to a smemall village in Modena district of UP (near chambal). He joins the army after Independence and just loves to eat.. he is rather rudely told by one of the Mess Havaldars that if he wants to hog, become a sportsman, so PST goes and tells his Div O that he wants to become a sportsman. The DO, in jest gives him a pack of Ice Cream and tells him that if he can deliver this to a majors house, before it melts, he can become one..So PST does less than 4 mins..

He then does well in the local 5000 mtrs race and to his CO's shock informs him that his uncle is a "Baaghi" (an euphemism for a dacoit).  He tells him that in Chambal, no one becomes a dacoit for pleasure and therefore, they are known as Baaghi's. The tete a tete continues and the CO feels that PST is a complete misfit and has a lot of latent anger..His DO gives a suggestion of sending him to sports school to hone his talents and channelise his energy.

At the sports school, he tells his coach (Maj Randhawa) that he has come here so that he can eat well.. and in the very first 5000 mtrs race, trumps his son-in-law. The coach is worried and requests PST to take up another race, which at first he vehemently disagrees, but when the coach tells him that his daughters happiness is at stake..he understands the situation and agrees to run the Steeple chase.

The story goes on about how he makes a national record, looses in the asian games just because he was forced to wear spikes.. and then finally at the age of 30+ goes and wins a gold medal at the International Defense meet ...a competition in  which he was allowed to participate as compensation for not sending him to fight in the 1965 war inspite of his age..

After his retirement, the hard facts of life hit him and when he realises that his land has been usurped by his cousin, he goes from pillar to post to retrieve it, tries all legal means but the final humiliation comes when the local policeman tells him that his medal and army background have no value, and throws his medal and papers away.. he decides enough is enough and has todo something. In the meanwhile, incensed by PST going to the police, his cousin attacks his home, bludgeons his mom to death (luckily his wife and kids run away). PST then takes the law into his own hands and becomes a Baaghi. The irony is that his son joins the army and he has to become a dacoit.

So as a dacoit, he has to kidnap people to get money for firearms and all that, which he does, with the sole aim of killing his cousins and avenging his mothers death and sons beating. He achieves his aim, takes revenge and thereafter does not know what to do. His fame has spread far and wide and even police approach him to take revenge on their enemies. He realises that there is no return to his earlier life.

The movie is a sad reminder of how we treat our sportsmen, of how the very people supposed to protect us become our tormentors, leaving no recourse for justice. It clearly depicts the tough life in our villages, the internal politics, the wheels within wheels within wheels. The entire story is narrated by PST, to a journalist.

The movie is superbly shot, the chambal ravines look desolate and inhospitable . Irrfan as PST is there in almost every frame (its his movie through and through) and he is simply brilliant. Mahie Gill as PST's wife is endearing (though she does not have much of a role, as a matter of fact, no one else has).  Effortless acting and some superb direction, screenplay and editing  make it one of the best movies in the past few years. The locations are authentic, the diction is local ... Just go an watch gives Bandit Queen a run for its money..

Rating - ****1/2 ('cause nothings perfect)..

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