Movie Review – Paan Singh Tomar (2012)

Paan Singh Tomar

Year of Release: 2012

*ing: Irrfan Khan, Mahie Gill

Verdict: 4/5

“Beehad mein toh baagi baste hain, Dakait toh parliament mein hote hain”. This power packed line delivered by the performance powerhouse Irrfan Khan in the promos was enough to drive the audiences to the theater. And boy were they in for a joyride!

PST comes as a pleasant surprise; with it’s strong script, stronger dialogues, fabulous acting and wonderful direction; in midst of movies like Housefull being made which just bank on their star power and ridiculous item numbers to do well. While the recently released movies are cheap rehashed versions of hit Hollywood movies, PST is authentically desi. While the recent crop of movies are like caviar curry minus the spice, PST is authentic daal baati churma with tons of flavor.

It is an endearing story of an army man turned athlete turned dacoit. The legendary Chambal ghati forms the backdrop for the major part of the movie, an area that was once infamous for housing innumerable number of self-made dacoits & their gangs. The inability of food doled out at the army canteen to satiate Paan Singh’s hunger, leads to him joining sports so that he can eat as much as he wants. His innocuous innocence in all of this will totally get to you.

Thus begins the glorified story of how he becomes a name to reckon with in the Steeple chase race where he breaks his own records. But the turning point or a setback for his flourishing career comes when he learns of the family feud in which his land was illegally taken over by his cousin brother. Armed with his army background and sports credentials he sets out to achieve justice the right way. But when spurned and insulted by the system, he has no other choice but to turn into something he had been avoiding all along. There is only so much insult a male ego can suffer. Thereupon we get to witness the dacoit part of Paan Singh’s life which is as beautifully captured as his athletic days.

The movie definitely glorifies the life of a dacoit but also gets you thinking whether we can blame those who are forced to choose illegal or criminal paths by our very own system. A question everybody can agree is highly morally subjective.

Philosophy aside, the entire movie is a treat to watch. The director (Tigmanshu Dhulia) has taken care of the smallest details – the authentic dialect of the area, the non-dramatic and gradual aging process of Paan Singh, love-making scenes in rural India during olden times, Mahie Gill’s village belle avatar, Paan Singh’s attempts at getting privacy with his wife, his suppressed anger and frustration at being able to do nothing when outnumbered by his cousin’s men,  etc. The light-hearted moments peppered throughout the movie keep it from getting too serious or boring.

Though the local dialect adds an authentic touch, it might be a little difficult for people not familiar with it to understand. Also the second half of the movie sometimes drags in bits and pieces.

But apart from the above tiny glitches, the movie has proven yet again that the real hero is the story/script as it is the soul of the movie. This is the precise reason why this film has worked wonderfully without any hype or over the top promotions. And of course not to discount the brilliant performance by Irrfan Khan.

It’s about time that other filmmakers learn a lesson from Tigmanshu Dhulia and make films that have a story rather than churning out nonsense after nonsense starring the biggest stars. As can be learnt from numerous culinary contest shows; no matter how fancy a dish looks, it is only as good as it tastes.

Original interview of Paan Singh Tomar

Trivia:

  • Paan Singh Tomar won the steeplechase event at Indian National Games for seven years in a row. He gave up sports and became famous dacoit in Bhind in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The makers of Paan Singh Tomar used real money worth Rs 3 Lakhs and hung it on a hoarding in Juhu, Mumbai as a part of a promotion. The hoarding was guarded by security personnels but the bag of real money had to be removed when cops intervened due to security threats.
  • Paan Singh Tomar’s nephew, Balwanta Singh lodged an FIR against the director Tigmanshu Dhulia in Gwalior for an alleged breach of promise. Balwanta claims that Tigmanshu had promised to pay him Rs 40 lacs to help him find details about the transformation of Paan Singh from an athlete to a dacoit.
  • The film Paan Singh Tomar was shot in Chambal. Since the area is bandit infested, the cast and crew were not allowed to venture out of their hotel after 5pm and there was security round the clock.
  • The film Paan Singh Tomar required the lead actor Irrfan Khan to be physically fit. Hence Irrfan used to go for regular jogs in the evening and also indulge in playing cricket with the cast and crew.
  • Irrfan Khan was not the first choice to play the dacoit, the director had Akshay Kumar in mind earlier, but later approached Irrfan Khan who fit into the character very well.
  • Irrfan Khan was not aware of Paan Singh Tomar although he was a National Steeplechase Champion. Only after he was approached by the director Tigmanshu Dhulia and later reading about him, did Irrfan learn of him and found his character very intriguing.
  • Apparently the final schedule of the film was delayed because Irrfan suffered an injury to his leg. Also while shooting in the jungles of Dholpur, the sultry weather caused Irfan a blackout and he even got dehydrated.
  • To essay the character of Paan Singh Tomar, Irrfan Khan dedicated himself 2 month before the beginning of the shoot to learn and train on Steeplechase. He took training from a Delhi based National level coach who trained Irrfan in the sport. Irrfan also undertook lessons on voice modulation and pronunciation as he had to speak in the local dialect.
  • To make the film look authentic, director Tigmanshu Dhulia shot the film Paan Singh Tomar in his village and in the house where he grew up.
  • Tigmanshu Dhulia shot the film in terrains of Chambal, Forest Research Institute in Dehradun which was converted into a sports complex and Ludki with army men.

Movie Review – Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011)

This movie is a prime example of the power of positive word of mouth on social media. The movie didn’t quite get rave reviews from the professional critic circuit when it opened. But as more and more people discovered the movie, the social media was abuzz with people calling it a must watch.

And well they weren’t wrong either.

This movie depicts the sorry case of guys at the hands of evil, bitching and mostly scheming girls. It’s the story of 3 guys (Nishant aka Liquid, Vicky aka Chaudhary & Rajat aka Rajjo). Liquid is highly frustrated with his nowhere leading job and his inability to ‘patao’ girls. Chaudhary is the cool one of the trio who plays the guitar, sports funky looking hairdo and considers it cool & even normal to lounge around in his underwear for most part of the movie (which is really difficult to fathom). And as for Rajjo aka Rajat he has no specific character sketch until a woman comes into his life. It is then that his character starts taking shape and a good shape at that 🙂

The movie starts with Liquid mouthing filthy dialogues peppered with abusive words but which make sense once you realize that it’s the frustration of the guy that is actually being shown. The 3 guys break into a song “Life sahi hai, Tension nahi hai” depicting their single & free status.

And voila, just like the saas-bahu serials cannot take even 2 minutes of happiness, the vamps enter the scene. There is a girl for each of the guy and soon all 3 of them discover the joys of being with a woman. As Rajjo says, it makes them feel alive. But like all the good things, the honeymoon period soon gets over and that is when the REAL fun begins.

Liquid soon discovers that the woman he was considering to be his future Mrs. Liquid was just using him to get her work done in office, using all the help that she needed while keeping her boyfriend. Despite realizing that he has become just a “good friend” and a personal valet to the lady, Liquid still goes out of the way to help her and in the process become a doormat.

Chaudhary also isn’t faring any better as he realizes that his modern & forward sort of girlfriend has her feet in two separate boats. She enjoys being with him while keeping her boyfriend of 5-years in the sly.

And the funniest and the most amazing track is that of Rajjo and his live-in relationship girlfriend Neha. The dialogues and the situations have been scripted so beautifully that your heart actually goes out to Rajat. He is portrayed as the poor guy who does everything but is still blamed for doing nothing by his girlfriend. Neha hs been shown as the epitome of how a female mind works. They say it for a reason why it’s impossible to understand a woman. She makes sure that no matter what the situation or whoever’s mistake it is, she always ends up winning the arguments and has her way in the relationship. And Nushrat Bharucha (Neha) has brilliantly played the character and totally fits the bill.

The story unfolds beautifully and every person who has ever been in a relationship or hasn’t but has had an argument with a woman can totally relate to it. The script writer has done a commendable job writing all the dialogues since even females who have been portrayed as the enemies can relate to them and that, mind you is no small feat.

The only thing that doesn’t go down well is the extreme negative light in which females are shown. Their point of view and their side of the story hasn’t been shown at all but I guess that kind of works in the movies favor. The wife & girlfriend jokes have always been in and the situations created give the movie a full chance to capitalize on them.

If a movie were to be made about the girl’s side of the same story, am sure everybody would sympathize with them too. Though it wouldn’t be as funny.

The best dialogue/part of the film definitely has to be the long dialogue delivered by Rajjo when he comes back to his bachelor pad after a fight with Neha. Every single person can relate to it.

The only thing that didn’t work for the movie were the actors with their shoddy acting skills, Vicky wearing an underwear all the time in front of his buddies (I am sure most of the guys couldn’t relate to it either), the gay-ish scenes between Liquid & Rajjo and somewhat extreme behavior and meanness of Charu (Liquid’s advantage taker).

Totally go for the movie but not for the acting prowess or amazing songs or anything else but solely for the content and the dialogues as that is the only thing that will keep you glued for the entire 2.5 hours.

P.S. – If you liked the movie, you would enjoy watching a sitcom called ‘Coupling’. It is a British sitcom that shows how a same event is viewed differently from a guy’s and a girl’s perspective. Hilarious it is!

Trivia:

  • IMDB Rating – 8/10
  • Director Luv Ranjan, who was on the look out for an actor (san a starry face) to play the lead role, discovered newbie Karthik on the social networking site Facebook.
  • Pyaar Ka Punchnama will make a record of sorts by launching six newcomers, a debutant producer and a first time director.
  • In the initial scene when Nishant is angry & all three start for a dhaba on Vikrant‘s bike but while returning they are seen to be climbing the jeep.

Movie Review – Delhi Belly (2011)

Shit Happens

F****N AWESOME!!

However crass the above words are, they truly and aptly sum up the reaction after watching the movie. With this movie Bollywood has truly come of age and it totally kicks ass.

And ‘ass’ is exactly what the movie starts with giving you a flavor of what is about to be thrown at you.

Let’s quickly get over with the story as that isn’t the most extraordinary thing about this movie. The movie is about 3 flatmates – Tashi (Imraan Khan), Arun (Vir Das), Nitin (Kunal Roy Kapoor) who accidently get embroiled in a diamond smuggling ring. Tashi’s girlfriend (Shehnaaz Treasurywala) unknowingly acts as a courier to deliver diamonds for Vijay Raaz. She gives the package to Tashi to deliver to an address  who the gives it to Nitin and who in turn gives two packages to Arun and they get mixed up and the wrong one reaches Vijay Raaz. And then the story takes a wild turn.

Now the story isn’t anything exceptional, it’s the treatment that makes the movie stand out. The movie is one of a kind that has come in a really long time. The English version is mostly in English and portrays how normal youngsters talk these days in big cities like Mumbai & Delhi. If the movie wasn’t treated delicately, then the fine balance between cheapness & crass humor could’ve been lost.

All the actors are aptly casted and even the smallest character has done his/her bit and make the movie a perfect watch.The director has paid attention to even the smallest details like the Haryanvi accent of the sidekicks. The Potty humor, the background music, the language, the character sketches, the look of the characters everything works for the movie and only an Amir Khan could have pulled it off.

The movie might not sit well with people with a more conservative sense of humor. Though the opening revenue of the film suggests otherwise.

It is DEFINITELY a must watch, even if you watch it for the sheer joy of watching something out of the league than the regular bollywood potboilers.

Shit did happen in this movie but we ain’t complaining…I say go for it!

Trivia:

  • IMDB Rating – 8.6/10
  • Shooting for the film began in August 2008 in Delhi. But due to many technical reasons, the film finally got released after three years in July 2011.
  • Imran Khan gave four screen test and then he finally got chosen for the role in his uncle Aamir Khan‘s movie ‘Delhi Belly‘.
  • For an item girl in the film, earlier the makers were thinking for Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone and Malaika Arora Khan. But finally they chosen MTV VJ Anusha Dandekar.
  • To bring in good luck for his approaching home production ‘Delhi Belly’, Aamir has made up his mind to wear the same blue T-shirt which he had donned on the World Cup 2011 finals, on the release date of the film.
  • Writer of the film Akshat Verma especially come down from Los Angles to Mumbai to meet Aamir. While Aamir was busy with some shoot so Akshat gave the script to the maid of Aamir’s house. By a strange quirk of fate, Kiran Rao read the script first. There was a pile of 200 scripts next to Aamir and Kiran picked up the first one and started reading. She started laughing and her laughter increased that she fell from the sofa. Aamir asked her what she was reading. She said that its Delhi Belly.
  • Bhag D.K. Bose Aandhi Aayi, the song that has become a raging hit, was included in the film at the last moment and was composed just a few weeks ago, much after the principal shooting of the film was over.
  • To ensure that his prime protagonists got the plot, language, setting and milieu just right, Aamir and director Abhinay Deo come up with a 100-hour-long crash course. It was a 10-day-long crash course, and all actors holed up in a room for up to 10 hours at a stretch along with the producer and director. The focus on these meetings was on ensuring the trio of actors got their gaalis right, and react naturally to the adult humour.

Movie Review – A Few Good Men (1992)

When ‘they’ say a movie is as good as its script, ‘they’ are correct. And when you throw in some brilliant acting by some veteran actors, you’ve got yourself a masterpiece.

A Few Good Men is just that, a masterpiece. This meaty, juicy story of fight for justice of two unfortunate soldiers who are pitted against the head of the battalion, shines in all its glory as actors like Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise & Demi Moore do complete justice to it.

The story revolves around the plight of two soldiers who are ordered to basically rag a member of their battalion (informally called code red) since he hasn’t been living up to the expectations of the group and is accused of breaking the chain of command. They do as they are told but in the course of events the victim dies and the two soldiers are taken into custody on account of murder charges.

Then comes in picture, the idealistic lawyer Demi Moore who believes that the soldiers are innocent and wants to handle the case herself. But the superiors consider a young, brash & over-confident lawyer (Tom Cruise) better suited to take the job. After initial ego clashes both Demi Moore & Tom Cruise’s characters decide to call it a truce.

Though Tom initially believes the case to be a sure-shot defeat in his otherwise victory laden career, he later after an emotional turmoil realizes that he can win it and sees it as a means to make his father proud, who also was a respected lawyer.

People who love courtroom dramas and even those who don’t would enjoy this movie equally. Jack Nicholson’s has given one of the most brilliant performance as Col. Jessup who is a stuck up, highly egoistic, pain in the ass superior and holds respect above everything else. If it weren’t for his character, the movie wouldn’t have been what it is. In fact the viewer waits for his face-off with Tom cruise in the court.

And a bonus for the female viewers, Tom Cruise looks like a dream. Ah! The good ol’ days before the couch-jumping incident.

It is a classic that anybody can watch and enjoy irrespective of age or taste.

Trivia:

  • IMDB Rating – 7.6/10
  • Tom Cruise‘s Jack Nicholson impersonation (when his character is quoting Col. Jessup) was not scripted.
  • A love scene between Demi Moore and Tom Cruise was planned but was not done because the movie didn’t really call for it.
  • When searching for an appropriate setting for the trial, the producers learned that regular military courtrooms are plain and featureless offices. In order to create a more photogenic setting, they settled on a vacant courtroom in an empty courthouse.
  • Jack Nicholson repeated his famous courtroom monologue as Col. Jessep off-camera several times so Rob Reiner could film the reactions of other actors from various angles. Nicholson’s memorable on-camera performance was filmed last, but according to Reiner and the other cast members, Nicholson gave it his all every take as if he was on camera.
  • The word “sir” is used 164 times during the movie. That’s an average of once every 50 seconds.
  • The movie’s line “You can’t handle the truth!” was voted as the #29 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
  • The original play “A Few Good Men” by Aaron Sorkin opened at the Music Box Theater on November 15, 1989 and ran for 497 performances.
  • June 2008 Ranked #5 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Courtroom Drama”.

Movie Review – An American Crime (2007)

This movie has literally, and I mean literally, left me speechless!

This is what happens when a movie is made with an amazing story and fabulously great actors. This is a movie that makes you think about it long after it is over and leaves a strong impression on your mind. It is a movie that makes you live the story and start feeling things that are actually happening in the movie. This is a movie that makes you feel grateful about the life you’ve had so far. Well I could just go on and on and on because this is one of the best movies I have seen till date.

The story is based on a real life event that shocked America in mid-1960s. It is about an innocent teenage girl who has to endure the tortures meted to her by a woman who is supposed to be taking care of her. This movie delves a lot deeper than just putting the story as is on screen. It shows how we, the people can be so totally blind to something wrong taking place right in our neighborhoods, thinking that ‘someone’ will take action someday.

Sylvia & Gertrude

It also shows that how important a role ‘perspective’ plays while deciding what is wrong and what is right. Innocent children commit and perpetuate crime just because someone tells them it is the right thing to do and because everyone else around them is doing it.

This movie shows how people’s lack of empathy destroyed an innocent life. And the fact that it happened in real to someone makes it even more scary and heart-wrenching. Ellen Page just shines in this movie despite being so young. She shows her mettle as an actress in all the scenes and emotes happiness, fear, pain etc. perfectly.

The closing dialogue of the movie totally takes the cake and makes you think about it long after the movie has ended.Sylvia & Jenny with their friends

I was personally moved a great deal by the movie. It’s a total must watch and I would give it a ten on ten. A total Jhakaas!!

Trivia:

  • IMDB Rating – 7.4/10
  • Based on a true story that happened in Indiana in 1965.
  • The film is based largely on actual court transcripts from the case.
  • Ellen Page was the only choice to play Sylvia Likens.
  • Ellen Page literally starved herself for her role as Sylvia. When director Tommy O’Haver noticed she was looking thinner, he asked her if she was eating and she replied “No, because Sylvia wasn’t being fed.”
  • Catherine Keener originally turned down the role of Gertrude Baniszewski, however after she couldn’t get the story out of her head she met with director Tommy O’Haver and agreed to do the film.
  • The film was shot in chronological order to give the actors the experience of what Sylvia really went through.
  • Most of the cast were completely unaware of the real murder case until after they read the script.