May be, it needed a Tigmanshu Dhulia to come up with the first real biopic from India which is stood up to be as close to reality as possible, and Paan Singh Tomar is going to make a cinematic history for sure. The effort of Tigmanshu Dhulia has been complemented by a convincing performance by Irrfan Khan who plays the lead role of Paan Singh Tomar.
At the time when there is a lot of churning l'ffaire sports administration in the country Paan Singh Tomar is a timely reality check about how and why sports has still not been able to make a mark in the country, and why sports per se still is not a conscious career choice for the youth of our country. It is the story of a national steeple chase runner who was national champion for seven times, and based on his performance he was selected in the Indian army and how he became an Outlaw.
Paan Singh Tomar has emerged as the first biopic in the real sense of terms as it has addressed the details of the character and the time with great perfection. As the film covers a span of more than thirty years, it has brought out the humble radio in the landscape, still a source of entertainment for quite a large number of people in our country and to add a dose of the reality the radio in the film announces the cancer to Nargis.
Problem with biopic in India has been that it is the actor who dominates the character and therefore the sense of conviction does not get conveyed on the screen. One would however not include GANDHI in this category as it was not made by an Indian film maker. Paan Singh Tomar scores by the choice of actor, Irrfan Khan who has convincingly played the role of the Paan Singh Tomar. He had to play the role of a character spanning over a time frame of 30 years and he has played the character with great sense of conviction.
Another touch of reality, which obviously emanates from the kind of homework that has gone into making of the film is the fact that though Paan Singh Tomar is a dacoit story, there are no horses. Imagine in the world of Hindi cinema a dacoit story but without horses. The romance of dacoits with horses has been woven into our psyche in such a way that one cannot imagine a dacoit story without them. But Tigmanshu Dhulia has shattered the belief by underlining the fact that in the belt of Chambal which has shifting sand dunes, horses are not good company. Rather, it is the ability to run on foot that stands out in the myriad dunes that dot the landscape in the film.
Besides, Paan Singh Tomar's conviction also stems from the fact that the dialogues have been delivered in the local dialect and they carry the sense of earthiness. Even Censors could not deter Tigmanshu Dhulia from deleting certain dialogues, as he was of the view that it would lessen the flavor and the impact of the period, and it is his conviction which censor board finally agreed to, has made Paan Singh Tomar a film worth watching for.
It takes quite a lot of sense and conviction to come out with a film like Paan Singh Tomar at a time when the candy floss romance or a romcom rules the roost, but it indeed is a reality check for the youth of the country. How many of the movie going public would even be aware that a character like Paan Singh Tomar exists in our social landscape, outside the territory of Bundelkhand. Tigmanshu Dhulia also was in a position to do it, as he is an Allahabad boy and the lore of Paan Singh Tomar is frequently referred to by the boys from Bundelkhand for whom Allahabad is the preferred centre of education.
For the sake of good cinema, Paan Singh Tomar need to hit bulls eye at the box office as Tigmanshu Dhulia needs a hit and so does Irrfan Khan as a commercial actor, who is probably for the first time in his illustrious acting career got a solo role, that too of a character who is a part of the folk lore.
If Paan Singh Tomar succeeds it would indeed be the trigger for Tigmanshu Dhulia to venture into the realm of biopic with much more conviction. As it is, he has been dealing with social issues having strong political overtones from the time he made his debut in the world of Hindi cinema.