Review: ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ is sublime

Zeenews Bureau

Tigmanshu Dhulia does it again. After a gritty ‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster’, Dhulia delivers yet another poignant film about a real life athlete from the heartland of Chambal who eventually becomes a dreaded dacoit.

The film narrates the story of Tomar from 1950 to 1981. Of how a 20 something youth becomes a national level athlete, represents India in international events, enrolls himself in the army, and eventually becomes the reigning dacoit of the Chambal Valley.

Making a biopic is never easy. And in Indian cinema, seldom has it been taken up. Yes, we have seen films on freedom fighters, on great Kings and Emperors but most have managed to stick to the commercial cinema bracket. Also very few films have been made on characters like Tomar, whose life story gives an insight to a fascinating personality. Of the things that led to an athlete’s transformation to a dreaded dacoit.

Dhulia gives the film a retro feel and does not even once bore with art house seriousness. But the narration is beautiful and you enjoy the journey that Tomar (Irrfan Khan) embarks upon.

One of Irfaan’s earlier film, ‘Haasil’ was Dhulia’s directorial debut film. The film catapulted Irrfan into the big league and filmmakers got up and took notice of this brilliant actor. This is the second outing of Khan-Dhulia team, and boy, are they good or what?

The easy and effortless portrayal of Irrfan Khan makes Tomar an enjoyable character. So much so that you enjoy his brashness, his rustic ways. Khan is also perhaps the only actor in Bollywood right now, who has the ability to step out of his star status and become the character. Each and every time. Be it the under-confident barber in ‘Billu’ to the geeky Bengali professor of ‘The Namesake’ to even the wife cheating womanizer in ‘Thank You’, Irfaan manages to be that character and not remain he himself. And in ‘Paan Singh Tomar’, it is no less. Like always, his portrayal of the rustic arrogant dacoit is absolutely flawless.

Mahie Gill as Tomar’s wife delivers a subtle yet beautiful performance. She is one actor who isn’t afraid of experimenting with roles so early in her career. And together with Khan, she makes the film even more believable.

The film is a rare mix of a sports film mixed with dacoit drama and the result is just brilliant.

Watch it for Tomar, an army man , a national level athlete who turns against law.

Watch it for Irfaan Khan. Because like good wine, one must savour his acting, scene by scene.

Ratings: Four cheers for this one!