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 – The Dirty Picture (2012)

Year of Release: 2011

Stars: Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Emraan Haashmi, Tusshar Kapoor

Verdict: 3.25/5

Agar daag lagne se kuch accha hota hai toh daag acche hain“. And ‘Dirty’ picture is one of those ‘acche daags’ that have splashed Bollywood in quite a while. Unlike a lot of the recent movies, this one isn’t trying to hitchhike on the back of star cast (Rascals, Desi Boys et al) or incessant promotions (read Ra.one). It has a good story, power-packed performances and of course a lot of sleaze, titillation & double entendres.

The movie takes you through the rise and fall of a starlet whose sole claim to fame is her unapologetic display of sexuality both on and off screen. She knows what men want and uses that to achieve what she wants. Her motto in life is ‘You get only one life, so why think twice before living it’. But whatever goes up, has to come down sooner or later but it’s the journey that makes everybody’s trajectory different.

As Chanakya said, “There is no bigger power in the world than the youth and beauty of a woman”. Silk knows it and uses it to get a break in the Tamil movie industry. She realizes that in a male dominated industry she will need a godfather and uses the biggest star’s (Suryakant) lust for her to get ahead. Naseeruddin Shah as Suryakant, the aging but extremely narcissistic & egoistic super star, has delivered a good performance and is responsible for generating quite a few laughs in an otherwise serious movie.

The other man who comes in Silk’s life is Ramakant (Tusshar Kapoor), Suryakant’s introvert younger brother. He loves Silk but buckles under pressure when needed to stand for her. Tusshar is redundant in the movie and wouldn’t have been missed had he not been in it.

Abraham (Emraan Haashmi) is the guy who incessantly abhors Silk for what she does but is the one who stands up for her in the end. Emraan has also done justice to his role.

But if there is a ‘hero’ in the movie, it definitely has to be Vidya Balan. Her ‘bebaak’ & ‘bindaas’ avatar will make you see a side (or front, pun intended) of her that you haven’t seen earlier. She has totally embodied the character & in the age of svelte Sheilas & Munnis, she has proudly and unashamedly filled the screen with her rather fuller version. She has comfortably flaunted the paunch, the flab or anything else that isn’t contained in her itsy bitsy clothes. But it doesn’t look vulgar as the role justifies such portrayal of her.

The movie isn’t for the prissy & faint hearted with its bold scenes and even bolder dialogues. Although some of the double meaning scenes and dialogues could’ve been definitely avoided.

The 2nd half of the movie fails to pack as much punch as the 1st one and the movie loses its pace. Also the narration throughout the movie should have been a little more crisp than it was.

It definitely isn’t a path-breaking movie but Ekta Kapoor sure has got a hit in her hands.

Trivia:

  • The film is based on the life of popular softcore film actress Silk Smitha.
  • The song Ishq Sufiyana was shot at Golkonda fort in old Hyderabad.
  • Vidya Balan was initially skeptical about taking up the role, as she was uncomfortable with the kind of dresses she needed to wear for the film. It was producer Ekta Kapoor who persuaded hard to get her approval.
  • The first phase of the filming was done in Mumbai‘s Filmcity, where a set was made re-creating the Chennai of the 80’s. The next phase of shooting was done at Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad.
  • In a scene, where Vidya and Emraan had to insult each other, was shot in promptu as the actors never rehearsed the scene before, and didn’t have any prior knowledge about the scene. Director Mithun Luthria later said that he wanted to catch the discomfort and awkwardness between them on screen, hence never disclosed about it before.
  • Producers of the film launched the trailer in a single screen (Galaxy theater) at Bandra in Mumbai. The theater was decorated to bring back the retro look of the 80s.
  • Vidya Balan had started her career with Balaji in TV serial Huma Paanch.
  • Vidya Balan watched movies like Chicago, Burlesque to prepare for the role and also took Salsa lessons.
  • Naseeruddin Shah has a dance number in this movie. Before this, he had danced in the song, Tirchi Topiwale from Tridev (1989).

Movie Review – This Boy’s Life (1993)

Leonardo is the ‘boy’ in this movie and he definitely had talent for his tender years. The movie is based on a true story about the life of Toby Wolff. He lived with his mother who had a series of bad relationships and kept running from one place to the other to start afresh and avoid her troublesome past. The boy quite enjoys the whole adventure with his bold and lively mother.

Life as they knew it takes a twist when Robert de Niro’s character Dwight enters their lives. He is good, has manners, respects ladies & charms them, quite unlike Toby’s mothers’ earlier boyfriends. She is hell-bent on this relationship to work as she is tired of running around.

Toby is a troublemaker at school and has been suspended and called for detention a lot of times. Dwight works out a plan with his mother for Toby to attend school at Concrete (a small county where he stays) so that he can get to know him better and to make him more disciplined.

Despite Toby’s reluctance he is sent away with Dwight and that’s when the trouble begins. He soon discovers that the free life that he lived with his mother is going to end and he will be bound without chains. Dwight has 3 kids of his own, who themselves cannot wait to start college to get out of the house.

Dwight is basically a kid trapped in a man’s body. He did not have a good childhood so he wants everyone else to be miserable and can’t bear if anybody else is doing better, achieves more or is happier than him.

After getting married even Toby’s mother realizes that all is not what she thought it would be but is determined to make the marriage work and tells Toby the same. The movie shows her finally reaching het wit’s end and how things shape up after that.

Toby himself longs for freedom and cannot wait to get out of the small pigeonhole for a place. The movie shows his anger, his struggle, his dreams & aspirations, all of which have been brilliantly and naturally portrayed by Leonardo.

Robert de’Niro as the egoistic man is superb. His antics, his irritation, all the small nuances have been played to the T.

There are some truly funny and sweet moments that make your heart go out to Leo and are sure to make u giggle like Toby acting out as Dwight, all the teens dressing up as Elvis etc.

Given here is the picture of real Tobias Wolff:

The movie definitely leaves you feeling good but with a tinge of sadness at what the boy had to endure.

Trivia:

  • IMDB Rating – 7.2/10
  • Tobey Maguire first auditioned for the part of Toby but director Michael Caton-Jonesthought he wasn’t right for the role. Leonardo DiCaprio, who is close friends with Tobey Maguire, still wanted him to be apart of the film so he got him the role of Toby’s friend Chuck Bolger.
  • Tobey Maguire‘s movie debut.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio grew a few inches while shooting the film and he had to slouch in several scenes to look smaller next to Robert De Niro.
  • Despite the movie’s title, the real magazine “Boy’s Life” is referred to and shown throughout as “Boy’s Magazine”.
  • Toby’s brother, called “Gregory” in the movie, is actually named Geoffrey.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio was 19 years old while filming this movie.

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.