With movies like ‘Haasil’, ‘Shagird’, ‘Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster’ among his works, director Tigmanshu Dhulia has created quite a space for himself in Bollywood. With ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ he takes his legacy forward. Long in the works, this is the story of the forgotten steeplechase runner who became a dreaded dacoit in Chambal after the authorities betrayed him.
Being a biopic, the story begins from the time ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ (Irrfan Khan) joins the armed forces. Coming from Madhya Pradesh, where he had seen his uncles turn into rebels, he himself has brushes with his seniors. When they realize that he would be more adept at concentrating his energies in athletics they send him to the Army Sports Center. From there his journey begins to stardom. Winning medal after medal in steeplechase at national and international levels, he becomes a hero. But closer at home, problems like land grabbing by his cousins force him to leave the army. With no help from the police as well as the government, he finally takes up arms and builds up his own gang in Chambal.
Making a biopic is tough work. One has to concentrate on each and every incident so that complete justice is done to all the events. Tigmanshu does a pretty good job at depicting Tomar’s journey from athletics to the ravines of Chambal. Some of the dialogues like ‘Bihad mein baaghi hote hain… Dacait milte hain Parliament mein‘ stand out. The cinematography depicting Chambal is almost picture perfect. The apt background score gives the sequences a completely different feel.
The pace and narrative is pretty quick in the first half. But the second half falls pretty flat. The continuous use of guns, shooting, blood, gang fights gets a bit too much to take. Even the pace drops off dramatically making one feel restless. The flick could have done with better editing in the second half.
Irrfan is the heart and soul of Paan Singh Tomar. His dialogues, his facial expressions, his dressing style, everything is so perfect for the character. He seems to have worked doubly hard on perfecting his part by practicing the sport which shows. Mahie Gill doesn’t really have much to do. Vipin Sharma as Major Masand, Imran Hasnee as Matadeen Singh Tomar and Rajendra Gupta leave strong impacts with their roles.
All in all, go for it for Irrfan!
Rating – 3/5