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A life less ordinary


Paan Singh Tomar

Rating: 3.5

March 02, 2012

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Mahie Gill, Brijendra Kala, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vipin Sharma

Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia

With his faultless performance as the famed athlete who turns into a feared dacoit in director Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Paan Singh Tomar, Irrfan Khan offers us a reminder of his blazing versatility.

Introduced to us as a reed-thin jawaan with an insatiable appetite for food, Tomar is quickly included in the army’s sports team, when he shows he can sprint across town to deliver a slab of ice-cream in four minutes flat before it begins to melt.

Having conquered the track with seven national wins in the most grueling athletic event, the steeplechase, Tomar has a promising career ahead that’s suddenly derailed when he must pick up a gun to protect his family’s honor, after an argument over a plot of land in his village gets messy. Tomar the sportsman transforms into Tomar the outlaw, and instead of the sports-field, his playing grounds are now the ravines of Chambal.

Narrated in flashback by Tomar himself to a nervous journalist (played by a superb Brijendra Kala), the life-story of this dreaded dacoit packs many a moving moment, and more humor than you’d imagined. There is surprising tenderness in his scenes with his wife (Mahie Gill), and sequences of joyful camaraderie between his band of thieves. There is regret too, as Tomar repeatedly reminds us – alas, few knew his name when he was a champion athlete, but he’s notorious now as an outlaw.

Directed competently by Dhulia, who’s familiar and comfortable even with the dusty terrain, Paan Singh Tomar is made with great attention to detail, and paints an honest, realistic picture of an India few of us can claim to know. Although repetitive occasionally and a tad long, the film raises two important questions: What could possibly drive a patriotic soldier into crossing over to the dark side? And although we call them sporting heroes, do we really care about our athletes once their careers are over?

I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for director Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Paan Singh Tomar. Held up by a remarkable performance from Irrfan Khan, this is a well-intentioned film that’s worth your time.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

19 Responses to “A life less ordinary”

  1. abdulla says:

    i will definitely watch this mobie now for : irrfan khan and the reviews

  2. abdulla says:

    i will definitely watch this movie now for : irrfan khan and the reviews

  3. jmsaji says:

    I want to c it

  4. Manu says:

    I’m yet to see Paan Singh Tomar and the only reason y is Irfan..

  5. PBS says:

    Just came back from the movie. It was nice, worth a dekho and you said it right. “…repetitive occasionally and a tad long…” and is there anything this Irrfan guy can not do ?

  6. arnav says:

    seen both paan singh and london paris today ,,paan singh is 10 times better than the other

  7. Sanjay says:

    An outstanding piece of cinema…combination of Tigmanshu Dhulia 7 Irrfan Rocks. must watch .

  8. Sanjay says:

    An outstanding piece of cinema…combination of Tigmanshu Dhulia & Irrfan Rocks. must watch .

  9. Pan Singh Tomar…insightful n heart-warming in parts with subtle undercurrents of humor n pathos in equal measure…an understated yet thoroughly impressive Irrfan Khan lit up the screen….wonder how shabbily we treat our real national heroes though n do we really care????the first must-watch of 2012!!

  10. Somya says:

    Brijendra Kala was really good! Mahi Gill had very little role in the film. It was a bit long but was gripping. A must watch!

  11. jiggi says:

    i will watch it only bcs irfan deserve fans…

  12. Tushar says:

    please enlighten why you have deducted 1.5 stars. without that your review and rating is i would say ‘moody’

  13. neeraj says:

    irfan khan,tigmanshu dhulia & mahie gill…..a winning combination!!!!! must watch!!!!

  14. amol says:

    a must watch venture..!

  15. aditi rao says:

    i agree rajeev…but would have gone with at least 4 if only for irrfan. which other actor would have even attempted this? as for now, Farhan has a challenge to raise the bar with Bhag Milkha Bhag

  16. sajag says:

    ‘Bolo Haan’

  17. parul says:

    Now this one should indeed be our entry to oscors this year…..a true biopic…..at par to hollywood cinema…..must watch….

  18. Jay Jani says:

    Nice review ! The last line says it all “A well intentioned film”

  19. Kapil Malik says:

    Amazing Amazing movie ! Superb acting … ironically, Irrfan khan, doing such fine performances is valued less than the other so called ‘Khans’ of bollywood, much like Paan Singh Tomar.

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