Directed by: Tigmanshu Dhulia
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Mahie Gill
All pictures courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com
Every now and then, a film comes along that rewards my faith in Hindi cinema; the early starts, the planning the day around the film, the race to get the best seat in the screening – all are worth it for the right film. And boy, was Paan Singh Tomar (PST)worth it. I’ll cut straight to the chase, you need to see this film, preferably in cinema but if it is not showing near you (more on that later), then on DVD or on telecast. Because quite simply, PST, (on paper at least) shouldn’t work as a Hindi film – no big star cast, no songs, a film with a strong social commentary and message, filmed in the rural heartlands of India. But these are precisely the factors that make PST so good and help Dhulia’s razor sharp creative vision be fully realised on screen.
PST is compelling and grips the viewer from the outset, with not a single frame wasted. With a seemingly unstoppable momentum, the screenplay asserts itself with an eloquent and fearless voice, that commands the audience to pay attention and respect the points being made. The rowdy audience I saw PST with were certainly tamed into submission, only reacting when the film allowed them to. The powerful script is backed by excellent cinematography which imbibe the stark lands of rural India with character and meaning, whilst the editing ensures each scene makes the desired impact and doesn’t outstay its welcome.
Performance wise, there is no weak link but PST belongs to the nucleus of the film, Irrfan Khan who gives such a superlative turn as Paan Singh Tomar, I doubt there is any of Irrfan in the actual role – every moment of his on-screen time brings Paan Singh Tomar to life with a confidence, clarity and charisma that is electrifying and elevates PST even further beyond its already excellent foundations. Quite simply, there is no other actor in the world who could have done this role as Irrfan does – if anything, his potential is only just starting to be realised (to think that Hindi cinema could waste such talent in the dreadful Thank You still disgusts me!).
I cannot believe that UTV Motion Pictures tried to bury this film with a quiet release – PST is precisely the kind of film that needs to be taken to national and international film festivals; the London Film Festival, TIFF, Sundance, Locarno, Cannes, which would have created a very well deserved buzz and brought an even wider audience to the film. Furthermore, whoever thought a limited release was a good idea also needs to be fired as the reach of Hindi cinema grows, this is exactly the kind of work that needs to be seen and appreciated by film lovers everywhere.
In case I haven’t made it clear – go and see this film. Without a doubt, the best film of 2012 so far.