Paan Singh Tomar was a real-life hero of India-a great athlete devoted to Steeplechase run winning National awards for the country. He was in army service while achieving his medals during 1958-64. He was seven times national champions and also represented India in Tokyo Asian Games in 1958. His record in 3000 Steeplechase stood the test of time for nearly a decade. After retirement he returned to his native village and tried to reside happily as a farmer. But eventually the pride of India changed into an outlaw and was killed by Indian police in 1981. As a great sportsman he was unusual, but he carried a big award as a most-wanted outlaw of India’s notorious Chambal Valley. bb6 voting
The melancholic story of this real-life hero inspired director Tigmanshu Dhulia to create this movie titled ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ that released all over India on March 2, 2012. There is no dearth of bandit-genre films in India, but Dhulia chosen the serious type of cinema with a solid statement. Powerful story-telling, apt technical support, brilliant cinematography and seamless editing, lilting background scores and powerhouse performances have made this movie an altogether different experience within the genre. No surprise the movie has attained the status of ‘run’ away hit.
Talking of performances Irrfan Khan steals the thunder as usual in the title role. It was palpable how much efforts and labor he’d place in to reside the role apart from all the running. His characteristic wry humor enhances the personality of Pann Singh Tomar.Fresh in the Indian army Paan Singh boasted of his maternal uncle like a ‘baghi’ (rebel) and not an outlaw. The memorable dialogue in this context ‘Rebels breed in Chambal while dacoits are within Parliament!’ rings the air. After having to the career of an outlaw Paan Singh kept up the ironical comment ‘Nobody heard of me as a national champion, but the minute I became an outlaw the whole country knew me and I came to carry a massive cash award on my head!’ ;.
The first half of the movie vividly describes Paan Singh as an athlete along with his victory run of steeplechase. For his straight talking and running talent army officials decided to send him for physical training to develop into a sportsman. Honest and loyal to the core of his heart Paan Singh during the time of war regretted being fully a sportsman as he was not sent out to fight the enemies. Retiring in prime age Paan Singh returned to his native village and immediately got entangled in a land feud along with his relatives. He did everything possible from his patriotic fervor to determine peace and amity. Failing in he approached his army bosses for help and they guided him to the area authorities. But corrupt admin and police insulted and humiliated him. While a police inspector threw away his medals his relatives in the village raided his home killing his old mother brutally and his family just escaped.
That has been the turning point and he’d no option but to occupy the gun and constitute a company with members who have been also equally repressed and tortured. The 2nd half of the film narrates his career as an outlaw leading finally to his entrapment and killing by police. In this half the director had a tricky problem of choosing between an ordinary bandit-drama and the enigma of Paan Singh Tomar. With an elegant balancing act he succeeds in taking his film forward without romanticizing or condemning the real-life hero while fondly preserving his true characteristic spirit till the end.
And, so when it is over we leave the theater with a heavy heart feeling painfully for the pitiful conditions of Indian sportsmen who are not successful cricketers. Deeply moved by this unsung hero the recommendations spread far and wide working wonders with this wonderful movie. The strong statement produced by the movie and only Indian sports fraternity lingers on.