Movie Review: Paan Singh Tomar (2012)
In a defining sequence in the film, Paan Singh Tomar tells his superior that his mama [uncle] isn’t a dacoit, but a baaghi [rebel]. In another sequence, during the course of an interview to a news-reporter, he makes a scathing remark, ‘Bihad mein baaghi hote hain… Dacait milte hain Parliament mein’. That, in a nutshell, sums up the persona of the long-forgotten steeplechase runner, who felt miffed by the government’s betrayal and became a dacoit of Chambal. 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.
Come to think of it, there is a very thin line between a baaghi [rebel] and a dacoit. Tigmanshu tries to define the thin line between a rebel and a dacoit, but the question is, is this borrowed-from-real-life saga as bona fide and stimulating as Shekhar Kapur’s BANDIT QUEEN, which was also a biopic [Phoolan Devi]?
Paan Singh [Irrfan Khan] was a small-town lad who went on to win the steeplechase at the national games. A series of life changing events, however, forced Paan Singh to give up athletics, pick up the gun and become a dacoit of the infamous Chambal valley.