It opened to rave reviews, has been packing in the crowds thanks to strong word-of-mouth publicity, and now lead actor Irrfan, director Tigmashu Dhulia and producer Ronnie Screwvala of UTV are on their way to Delhi with a print of their film, Paan Singh Tomar.
A special screening is being organised at the Mahadev Auditorium at 5 pm tomorrow, for Ambika Soni and the Information & Broadcasting Ministry. After the ‘aam janta’ (common man), it’s the top-ranking government officials who are keen to watch the biopic on the seven-time National steeplechase champion turned Chambal outlaw, for the interest it has generated in the plight of sportspersons, many of whom are living in penury after doing the country proud.
“I’m really happy. This screening is sure to generate a lot of media attention that I hope will eventually translate into some kind of a trust we’re hoping to set up for these forgotten heroes. Once Irrfan is through with Qissi, the international co-production he’s shooting in Chandigarh, we will sit and brainstorm on how we can take the idea forward. It should happen by the month end,” says Tigmashu.
The director has been watching the film with audiences in Mumbai and Delhi and is encouraged by the response. “Even without glamour, big names and item numbers, this rebel runner seems to have brought out the goodness in people. Their response is not just positive but so pure,” he marvels.
Bring up the subject of the Summer Olympics in London and India’s chances, and he admits he doesn’t see too many of our athletes holding up against stronger competitors from the US and countries that offer better training facilities. Even Paan Singh, Milkha Singh and Dhyan Chand, who won us our medals, he points out, were from the army and owe their discipline and success to the services.
“But I’m pretty hopeful for Indian hockey,” he adds. “After years, we are playing as a team and I see a silver there.”