Movie Review: PAAN SINGH TOMAR (2012)

Published by Shah Shahid on

I’ve heard a lot about this movie, and initially it didn’t seem interesting. But all the awards buzz got me to watch it, and I must say that PAAN SINGH TOMAR was a decent enough watch. Here’s my Movie Review…

Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

Irfan Khan in Bollywood Movie Paan Singh Tomar directed by Tigmanshu Dholakia

This entire movie rests upon the shoulders of Irfan Khan and his amazing talent. No frame of this movie is without the titular character and he shines radiantly throughout.

PAAN SINGH TOMAR is a true story about a National Gold Medalist Hurdler, who has to resort to a life of crime to get justice, because no one will give it to him. Initially a young man stemming form murky roots in an area of India where being a gun-toting militiaman was the norm, and people did it with pride. Paan Singh joins the Army, and then the sports department of the army with a more than usual appetite, as he realized there are no restrictions on the food for athletes in the Army. The rest is history as his almost superhuman capacity for outrunning anyone near him, earns him multiple Gold medals and records.

Irfan Khan in Bollywood Movie Paan Singh Tomar directed by Tigmanshu Dholakia

Irfan Khan is so superbly able to give such innocence and life to Paan Singh, that it’s a joy to watch. The character is simple, naïve and honest to the core, as he flatly tells his superior officer that their government consists crooks, while swearing to defend the country all in the same breath. It’s brilliant. I suspect Paan Singh might’ve had some sort of learning disability as Irfan plays him almost as a challenged person.

His understanding of events is simplistic and pure, and it’s disheartening to watch Paan Singh get trampled by the corruption and deceit of others in the 2nd act. When things get complicated on the home front, Paan Singh has to take early retirement from the Army and return to his farming lifestyle. He finds out that his cousin has strong-armed his way into taking over his lands and is reaping the benefits.

Irfan Khan in Bollywood Movie Paan Singh Tomar directed by Tigmanshu Dholakia

After countless attempts at trying to resolve things peacefully and legally, having his son beaten brutally and being threatened with guns, with no one willing to hear the cause of this righteous former Gold Medalist and retired Army office who had faith in the law, Paan Singh takes matters into his own hands.

This is when Singh wages a war for revenge and essentially forms a gang and becomes one of the most feared dacoits (or rebels as he likes to call himself) of his area. The movie deals with his athletic downfall and his rise to criminal heights. It’s a very well told story without being too exaggerated or too polished.

Irfan Khan in Bollywood Movie Paan Singh Tomar directed by Tigmanshu Dholakia

The visuals of the film are very real. I know it’s a word I throw around a lot, but this isn’t gritty or ‘realistic’, it’s just real. The cinematography keeps everything grounded and never under sells a scene, nor embellishes it. Even the story isn’t grandiose or epic. It’s a simple story about a simple man that at times, may even seem slow or dragging. But it’s got sweet and soft moments as well.

The star of PAAN SINGH TOMAR is Irfan Khan. His portrayal of a naïve man, bordering on challenged, who becomes a harsh and hard criminal is heartbreaking. It’s even worse when throughout the film, Paan Singh recalls his glory days of simply running. Not for a cause, or revolution… but just running because he enjoyed it. It’s just sad.

Irfan Khan in Bollywood Movie Paan Singh Tomar directed by Tigmanshu Dholakia

PAAN SINGH TOMAR isn’t an amazingly well done movie, but it’s a simplistic tale about a simple subject matter, where Irfan Khan is able to show us exactly why he’s such a good actor.

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


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