Paan Singh... gets thumbs up from critics

Tigmanshu Dhulia's Paan Singh Tomar is yet another masterstroke from a consummate raconteur. Irrfan, an actor of standing, essays the character with aplomb. However, the second half of the film is slow.

bollywood Updated: Mar 02, 2012 20:06 IST

Tigmanshu Dhulia's Paan Singh Tomar is yet another masterstroke from a consummate raconteur. Irrfan, an actor of standing, essays the character with aplomb. However, the second half of the film is slow, feel critics.

"Paan Singh Tomar, a film helmed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, has taken a really lonooooong time to hit the screens, but despite the holdup, the film remains as pertinent and relevant in today's times as it was when Dhulia envisioned it," writes Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama.

"As a cinematic experience, Tigmanshu takes us into the world of Paan Singh Tomar and enlightens us the reasons that impelled a sportsman to take law in his hands. That itself is its USP, for this is no typical vendetta fare. It is a factual account of a sportsman who brought honor to the country, but felt betrayed when he needed the country the most. In fact, Tigmanshu calls this cinematic endeavor a tribute to the sportsmen who won medals for the nation, but never got their due during the sunset of their lives. An incredible film, no doubt, but falls short of being memorable as the plot becomes another vendetta fare at some stage in the concluding reels," Adarsh adds.

"There are many such remarkable scenes in Dhulia's film -- a compelling biopic about a natural sportsman and an Indian steeplechase champion from a village in Madhya Pradesh, who upon retiring became a notorious dacoit (or a rebel as Tomar reminds us towards the beginning of the film. 'Dacoits are found in the parliament,' he says with a nearly straight face)," writes Aseem Chhabra, Rediff.

A still from the film Paan Singh Tomar

"Dhulia, who worked with Shekhar Kapur in the seminal Bandit Queen, enters the crevices of the badlands of Chambal river and makes you understand how bandits are born. But he also brings out the camaraderie of the jawans and the gentle humour of a unit are rather well brought out. The beauty of the movie is that it blends the personal with the larger social truths. Tomar may have been running in Tokyo but back home in his village, his family must suffer the same oppression and humiliation as others," writes Avijit Ghosh, TOI.


"Tigmanshu Dhulia’s direction is very good. He has created the atmosphere of the village beautifully and has extracted very good work from his cast. However, the basic problem of the second half of the drama is something even his narration is not able to surmount. There’s not much scope for music (Abhishek Ray) but the songs in the background go well with the mood of the drama. Sandeep Chowta Projects’ background music is effective. Aseem Mishra’s cinematography is superb. Action scenes, composed by Kaushal-Moses, are appropriate. Sets (by Dhananjay Mondal) are nice. Aarti Bajaj’s editing is crisp," writes Komal Nahta,

"An intelligent filmmaker, Tigmanshu Dhulia yet again shows his perfection at the art. He has surely created a niche for himself as a filmmaker, who adds certain elements to the film that make it believable. For instance, since the flick is set in 50s, the director puts a scene where the radio station makes a mention of a cancer-stricken Nargis Dutt. What adds to the glee is- though dragged at certain portions, the movie never loses momentum, thanks to the extremely captivating dialogues and performances," reports

"The division of fact and fiction becomes another vital scripting dilemma in such films. Too much reality and you sweep out the drama and the thrill. So director Dhulia sprinkles just the right amount of winning moments and even the slower sequences have something to bite on. Some of the memorable ones include Paan’s cue for love-making: luring his kids out of the house with some lemon juice to allow him enough privacy to get intimate with his wife (Mahie Gill). Then, Paan’s irrepressible gluttony that manifests itself intermittently makes for charming scenes like the one where he completes a race and instantly walks off track to attack a bunch of bananas," writes Kunal Guha for Yahoo.

Weak second half

"The lone aspect that weighs the film downward is the fact that the narrative totters in the middle of the second hour, when the story doesn't really move frontward. Of course, one also comprehends that when you attempt a biopic, you have to stay true to the incidents that transpired in that person's life, but a cinematic adaptation can exclude a few episodes that aren't too imperative. Tigmanshu could've done that. Having said that, I'd like to add that PAAN SINGH TOMAR is yet another masterstroke from a consummate raconteur. The film seizes your attention for most parts and as you exit the screening, it's with a heavy heart, with a tinge of melancholy, which only indicates that the storyteller has succeeded in engaging your interest to something he wished to emphasize on," feels Adarsh.

"Dhulia gets it right all the time. But the transformation is too quick to be believable, my only problem with Paan Singh Tomar. Forgivable when pitted against the film as a whole. The length could have been worked upon too. Dialogue, as is true for most Dhulia films, is the strongest point of this one too," says Blessy Chettiar, DNA.

A still from the film Paan Singh Tomar


"The cinematography [Aseem Mishra] is truly attention-grabbing, while the editing [Aarti Bajaj] is razor-sharp. The background score [Sandeep Chowta] is most appropriate. It augments the impact of numerous sequences," says Adarsh.


"Irrfan, an actor of standing, essays the character with aplomb. Very evidently, the actor has trained rigorously with steeplechase coaches, since the role requires him to partake in this sport. At the same time, the role must have been physically and psychologically demanding and I yearn to affirm that Irrfan appears remarkably forceful in this complex part," writes Adarsh.

"Mahie Gill is an incredible talent and it comes to the fore yet again in this film. Two more actors who leave a solid impression are Vipin Sharma and Rajendra Gupta. Both excel in their respective characters. Nawazuddin Siddiqui sparkles in a brief role. Imran Hasnee is first-rate. The actor enacting the role of Paan Singh Tomar's son is effective. Brijendra Kala is fantastic as the news-reporter," adds Adarsh.

"Irrfan Khan lives the role of Paan Singh Tomar. He does a swell job, first as the athlete and then as the dacoit. Mahie Gill is extremely natural as Paan Singh’s wife. Zakir Hussain is good in a role (Inspector Rathore) that gives him limited scope. Vipin Sharma is natural as Major Masand. As the sports coach, Rajendra Gupta is endearing. Khan Jahangir Khan acts ably as Bhanwar Singh. Brijendra Kala is first-rate as the journalist. Imran Hasnee (as Matadeen, brother of Paan Singh), Swapnil Kotriwal (as Hanumantha Singh, son of Paan Singh) and Nawazuddin Siddiqui (as Gopi) lend excellent support as do Sitaram Panchal (as Ramcharan), Ravi Sah (as Balram, nephew of Paan Singh Tomar), Bano (as Paan Singh’s mother) and Rajeev Gupta (as the corrupt police officer). The rest of the cast also puts up a good show," writes Nahta.

"The movie works because Irffan makes Paan Singh Tomar come alive as an athlete, as a husband and as a dacoit. This is a flawless performance from a consummate actor. As his wife, Gill comes up with a rare restrained performance. There is humour as well a delicate intensity in the romantic scenes between the two. Dhulia gets great work from the remainder of the cast. The camerawork, especially of the ravines and the river, is excellent," writes Ghosh.


"On the whole, Paan Singh Tomar shatters the standard rules of this genre. Besides, the film makes you cognizant that serious cinema can be uniformly delightful, like any other enthralling entertainer. If this variety of cinema allures you then chances are that you will take pleasure in watching Paan Singh Tomar. Recommended!" Concludes Taran Adarsh.

"Gritty and power packed Paan Singh Tomar is a tribute to the unsung heroes of sports in India. Dhulia’s direction and Irrfan’s integrity will make Paan Singh Tomar among the best movies of recent time," says Chettiar.

"On the whole, Paan Singh Tomar does not have the commercial ingredients to score at the box-office. Had the second half been more weighty, it could have worked reasonably well but with the post interval portion looking like a routine dacoit drama, that won’t be possible," sums up Nahta.

First Published: Mar 02, 2012 17:22 IST