Paan Singh Tomar Review

Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Mahie Gill, Vipin Sharma, Nawazuddin Siddiqui

From a small town of Madhya Pradesh, rose an athlete who ruled the steeplechase event at the Indian National Games for 7 years in a row and whose record stood unbeaten for 10 years. His name was Paan Singh Tomar, but, his fame didn’t stop there – he became even more famous or rather infamous when he gave up his running shoes and went on to become a ‘Baaghi’ and wreaked havoc in the Chambal Valley. Paan Singh Tomar is the true epic journey of a talented runner who turned into a rebel!

The movie is based on a true story but not sure how much of it is authentic and how much of it is cinematic liberty. Some of the scenes stand out like the one where Paan Singh Tomar runs to deliver an ice cream or the scene where his coach asks him to not take part in the 5000 meters race. All the race scenes are excellent. Paan Singh Tomar’s altercation with the cop and his family being attacked as well as his revenge scenes all stand out.

Cinematography by Aseem Mishra is very good especially in the sports portions of the movie. The visuals in the second half are very reminiscent of Bandit Queen. Art Direction by Dhananjay Mondal is pretty good. Editing by Aarti Bajaj could have been better in the second half.

Irrfan Khan gives his career best performance as Paan Singh Tomar. One can tell he worked really hard to look the part of someone in the military and a athlete. He is excellent from the very first scene to the last. This is a performance that deserves Best Actor awards. Mahie Gill is excellent in whatever limited scenes she is in. Vipin Sharma, Rajendra Gupta, Imran Hasnee and Brijendra Kala are all very good. Zakir Hussain is good in a brief role. Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s role seems like it was edited out. The rest of the cast is good too.

Screenplay by Sanjay Chouhan and Tigmanshu Dhulia could have been better in the second half. The first half is excellent but the movie drags quite a bit in the second half. There are scenes which seem repetitive or redundant. There was no need for the son-father kidnap scene. There is a scene immediately after that where they kidnap someone after traveling across three states. That scene is excellent and was enough to make the point on how they were making money.

The second half is also very similar to Bandit Queen. Those who have not seen Bandit Queen may not have any problems but those who have seen it will get a feeling of deja vu. Interestingly Tigmanshu Dhulia was the Assistant Director on Bandit Queen. Once the revenge is accomplished then there is not much purpose to the movie. The movie should have ideally ended after the interview or may be just have the final scene after that but it gets sidetracked with unnecessary stuff.

Tigmanshu Dhulia’s direction is very good but a tighter second half could have made this a masterpiece. The movie is definitely a honest effort and he needs to be commended for trying to tell this story. He has not compromised by adding any unnecessary commercial elements or any item songs to the movie. The movie has dialogues in the rural accent which some people may have trouble understanding. The movie does however have some great one liners. Showing the names of the athletes at the end is also very well done. This is a movie recommended for all patriotic Indians.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 (Very Good).

  1. Tulmul 12 years ago

    I Expected that one should not overlook the show string budget and the conditions under which this movie was made and than left to rot of 2 yrs, even UTV has left it to dogs…but than Gem cant be hidden for long… Such movies must be encouraged and rated as Unmissable Watch’s not very good… My little take… Anyways Good read Sputnik, could have been better :D… The Scene where he comes to meet his Fauji Son and than the look he gave is worth the all the past few yrs movies and future movies… That’s irrfan Khan. Period.

    • Author
      sputnik 12 years ago

      Last time you commented on Baba Ji’s post but I somehow missed the comment and did not approve it quickly. I saw it a few days later. The first comment goes through moderation and once that is approved all comments show up immediately. So apologize for missing that comment.

      They did a great job with the budget they had and I did not have any issues on that front.

      I read comments by Aseem Chabra and Sudhish Kamath that the movie was played at film festivals two years back and the consensus back then was that the movie was bad and that Irrfan was good. So UTV just sat on it and then thought of releasing it directly on TV. But then UTV re-cut the movie and released it. So UTV should also get some credit for that according to Sudish Kamath. Now according to Tigmanshu only the music was changed.

      Anyways how many production houses in India make a movie with Irrfan Khan in the lead – so they should be praised for that too. I think Irrfan was an excellent choice.

      “Such movies must be encouraged and rated as Unmissable Watch’s not very good… My little take… ”

      I said “This is a movie recommended for all patriotic Indians.” I tried to imply that if someone is patriotic they should see it. May be I should have used “must watch” instead of recommended.

      “Anyways Good read Sputnik, could have been better ”

      Thanks. And this is the same feeling I had with the the 2nd half of the movie.

      “The Scene where he comes to meet his Fauji Son and than the look he gave is worth the all the past few yrs movies and future movies…”

      Now you are entering fan zone 😉 Yes Irrfan is one actor who can speak volumes with just his eyes and expressions and he has done it in some of his previous movies too.

  2. narad_muni 12 years ago

    good review Sputnik..I was hoping for at least 4 stars going by the feedback form my friends, colleagues etc.

    welcome to TanQeed. Hope u hv a gud time here…And I m not gonna miss this one though it might be delayed due to constraints from my side. Will put up a review if I like it very much.

    • Author
      sputnik 12 years ago

      Thanks. May be if I had not seen Bandit Queen I would have rated it 4 stars but I would still recommend it. So do watch it.

  3. cr7 12 years ago

    usually i don’t read reviews before watching just saw the rating its look like unanimous praise..i was kinda sure it will get all the positive reviews and strong wom..not that i’m sure it is a damn good movie..the premise looked set for this movie to get so much positivity, it is just that kind of a film.

  4. password 12 years ago

    I don’t read any reviews except one or two paragraphs 😉 It is unanimously praised by all the sections, so its a MUST WATCH for me now. Will catch it as soon as it comes on Torrentz (though there is a fake one already) 😛

  5. aryan 12 years ago

    Brilliant movie. One of the best movies of 2012 till now and Brilliant direction.

  6. John Galt 12 years ago

    The movie on the whole, did not work for me that much. It was an out and out Irrfan show but other than that, the movie had a big narration problem. I do not agree on comparisons with Bandit Queen. Bandit queen was a story of a helpless woman who was dragged and forced to take a gun into her hands to save herself from being raped again (is the least what we can say). Her misery and reason were depicted in a much more effective way than that in PST. Moreover PST is a story of an athelete’s life gone wrong (read: abnormal) while Bandit queen was a story of a woman’s pain amounting to a rebellion.

    Regarding Career best performance of Irrfan- I do not agree with that either. It, indeed, is a great performance but his career best for me will have to be something from Warrior, Maqbool , the Namesake or even the small role in Mumbai meri jaan.

    • Author
      sputnik 12 years ago

      I was not comparing it with Bandit Queen on the circumstances that led them to become a Bandit. My comparison was more in terms of look, terrain and scenes in the second half of the movie. I watched Bandit Queen in 1994 and have not revisited the movie again but from what I remember it also had scenes where there is talk about surrendering, and scenes where they go into hiding and also similar styled robbery across towns (if I remember it correctly) and the village raid scenes.

      I have not seen Warrior but I watched Maqbool quite late. I did not like the movie much (had read Macbeth in school and did not like all the changes that Vishal made) and did not think so great of Irfan’s performance back then. Liked him in both The Namesake and Mumbai Meri Jaan too. The Namesake performance was great too but it is kind of subtle whereas this is more playing to the gallery with the whole National Hero kind of thing. I think this role also has more trajectory to it with the sportsman to bandit thing but selecting one over the other is just a matter of choice. He was great in Mumbai Meri Jaan too but it was kind of supporting role.

    • aryan 12 years ago

      Paan Singh Tomar’s land was stolen, son beaten up and family attacked. So he had no choice but to rebel.

  7. hithere 12 years ago

    “The visuals in the second half are very reminiscent of Bandit Queen. ”
    I think locations were more authentic in PST. I have seen Bandit Queen long time back and then again 5-6 year back. Some of the sets were studio sets IMO.

Leave a reply

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?