Business rating: 1/5 (One star)
Star cast: Irrfan Khan, Mahie Gill, Zakir Hussain, Vipin Sharma, Rajendra Gupta, Khan Jahangir Khan, Brijendra Kala.
What’s Good: The first half; the performances.
What’s Bad: The second half which is a routine revenge drama; the difficulty which the lay viewer will face while trying to understand the Bundelkhandi dialect in which the dialogues are spoken.
Verdict: Paan Singh Tomar does not make too much of a mark, thanks to the dull second half.
Loo break: A couple after interval.
Watch or Not?: Watch it for Irrfan Khan’s performance and also for the other actors.
UTV Spotboy’s Paan Singh Tomar (UA) is a biographical film on the life of Paan Singh Tomar, a super-fast athlete who is forced by circumstances to take the gun in his hands and become a dreaded dacoit in the valleys of Chambal.
Paan Singh Tomar (Irrfan Khan), a village lad, joins the army, but looking at his interest in sports, he is sent by the army officers to become an athlete for the Services. He shines in the Steeplechase race and brings glory to India. One of his cousins in the village plays dirty with him and even beats up his son mercilessly. The police officer refuses to lodge a complaint against the cousin and instead insults Paan Singh who shows him the medals he has won. This infuriates Paan Singh as he is hot-blooded. The family fight takes a terrible turn when the cousin kills Paan Singh’s mother. Left with no option, Paan Singh picks up the gun to teach his cousin the lesson of his life. Alongwith a group of friends and relatives, he soon becomes the dreaded dacoit of the Chambal valley. The police is on the trail of Paan Singh Tomar. He finds it paradoxical that nobody really cared for him when he brought glory to the country but now that he was a dreaded dacoit, the police and the government were after him.
Paan Singh is let down by one of his own gang members who cons him and the gang to stay the night in a village while informing the police about the stay. Before Paan Singh knows it, he and his team have no escape route. They give the large police contingent a tough fight but soon realise, their drink had also been poisoned. Ultimately, the entire gang, including Paan Singh Tomar, falls prey to the bullets of the police.
Paan Singh Tomar Review: Script Analysis
Sanjay Chauhan and Tigmanshu Dhulia have penned an interesting story and screenplay in the first half when Paan Singh Tomar becomes an athlete of repute in the Indian Army. However, the interval point, at which the film takes a dramatic turn, prepares the audience for a revenge drama in the second half. And that is exactly what the post-interval portion turns out to be – a routine revenge fare, full of action. The writers’ attempt to infuse emotions into the second half of the drama fails. In the absence of the emotional angle, the film fails to tug at the heart-strings. In fact, by the time the drama comes to an end, even the impact of the entertaining first half is greatly diluted. It must be mentioned here that Paan Singh’s transition from a national hero to a national villain is also not very convincing. His seeking revenge on his cousin and the cousin’s family is still understandable but looting unconnected people doesn’t really go down with Paan Singh Tomar’s character, even if it is done just so that he can sustain his gang. Therefore, the audience’s sympathy doesn’t go cent per cent with Paan Singh Tomar once he turns a dacoit. Dialogues are very appropriate but the use of the Bundelkhandi dialect to add that touch of authenticity greatly reduces the appeal of the film because the dialect will not be fully and easily understood by everybody.
Paan Singh Tomar Review: Star Performances
Irrfan Khan lives the role of Paan Singh Tomar. He does a swell job, first as the athlete and then as the dacoit. Mahie Gill is extremely natural as Paan Singh’s wife. Zakir Hussain is good in a role (Inspector Rathore) that gives him limited scope. Vipin Sharma is natural as Major Masand. As the sports coach, Rajendra Gupta is endearing. Khan Jahangir Khan acts ably as Bhanwar Singh. Brijendra Kala is first-rate as the journalist. Imran Hasnee (as Matadeen, brother of Paan Singh), Swapnil Kotriwal (as Hanumantha Singh, son of Paan Singh) and Nawazuddin Siddiqui (as Gopi) lend excellent support as do Sitaram Panchal (as Ramcharan), Ravi Sah (as Balram, nephew of Paan Singh Tomar), Bano (as Paan Singh’s mother) and Rajeev Gupta (as the corrupt police officer). The rest of the cast also puts up a good show.
Paan Singh Tomar Review: Direction & Technical Aspects
Tigmanshu Dhulia’s direction is very good. He has created the atmosphere of the village beautifully and has extracted very good work from his cast. However, the basic problem of the second half of the drama is something even his narration is not able to surmount. There’s not much scope for music (Abhishek Ray) but the songs in the background go well with the mood of the drama. Sandeep Chowta Projects’ background music is effective. Aseem Mishra’s cinematography is superb. Action scenes, composed by Kaushal-Moses, are appropriate. Sets (by Dhananjay Mondal) are nice. Aarti Bajaj’s editing is crisp.
Paan Singh Tomar Review: Komal Nahta’s Verdict
On the whole, Paan Singh Tomar does not have the commercial ingredients to score at the box-office. Had the second half been more weighty, it could have worked reasonably well but with the post interval portion looking like a routine dacoit drama, that won’t be possible.
Paan Singh Tomar releases in India on 2 March 2012.