Monday, December 07, 2009

Paa


Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 4th Dec, 2009
Time : 133 minutes
Director & Writer : R Balki; Music : Ilaiya Raja
Starring : Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Vidya Balan, Paresh Rawal, Arundhati Naag

Good performances by everyone, an interesting take on single parenthood and an almost ideal, quite sensitive take on how other school kids interact with a disabled child are what make this film interesting to watch. A slightly meandering, slightly over-sentimental, too emotional and perhaps just a shade implausible second half is what makes this a one time watch and by no means a classic.


Auro (Amitabh Bachchan) is a 12-13 yr old kid who has the body of a 70 yr old (with all the accompanying ailments) thanks to a rare genetic disease called progeria. He is brought up single-handedly by Vidya Balan, a doctor, who has chosen not to tell the father she is having the baby, after its clear during their affair that pregnancy, marriage and babies are not what he wants at this stage of his life. Abhishek Bachchan is a very very busy and idealistic politician, who first meets Auro when he is invited to judge a school competition, and slowly begins to get involved with this rare child, despite the political upheavals facing him. Arundhati Naag plays Auro’s determined grandmother and Vidya’s only support, and plays it well.

I liked the fact that all roles came across as very credible, all characters were likeable. I liked the humour, slight whimsicalness that was imparted to Auro, the way he makes his mom have khichdi with aachar, the way he is brought out of a sulk by the lure of video games, the way he gets ready for a ‘time unspecified’ trip to Rashtrapati Bhavan by packing his bag the night before and then not budging from the sofa in a state of 100% prepareness or his 'Google se bach ke kahan jaoge' attitude. And I really really liked his initial interactions with Abhishek, his relationship with his mom and grandmother and (at the risk of repeating myself), the beautiful way other school kids recognise Auro is special and treat him that way without being patronising or rude. Vidya turns in one of her best performances after Parineeta. Abhishek is charming, fun to watch as he engages with Auro. And Amitabh Bachchan delivers as a 12 year old, conveying age through his eyes while behaving like a child through his actions. All were very good indeed.

I liked also Vidya Balan’s response to a inquisitive mother (‘whats wrong with him ?’). I wish most mothers with disabled children could have the courage and sense of humour to behave as she did. I liked how she over-rules the cautious doctor especially with regards to school and ensures Auro gets to live freely and makes sure she or anyone else doesn’t overly smother him. The background score, slightly quirky, fun, ensured that we didn’t feel to intense or heavy and kept things light in the first half. And the opening credits were lovely, a nice unusual touch.

Where the movie stumbled was in not having a brilliant script or from shying away from clich├ęs, especially in the second half, where it almost seemed like the film maker wanted us to cry / weep. The novelty of watching Amitabh as a 12-13 yr old can hold attention for 3-5 minutes, not more. After that it needed a great storyline and the film lacked here. The whole political thread seemed slight out of place – something where Abhishek actually had a point of view around disabled children or single mothers but then changes his thoughts after observing Auro, could’ve made it more engaging perhaps. There were a couple of implausible events – the way he tackles the media or deals with the rumours around Auro, his mother and him being cases in point.


We have a film which everyone associated with it can proudly put on their CV. It’s a change from the run of the mill grist churned out by Bollywood. Its different from the mindless so called entertainers that afflict our industry currently. However, its not a classic and is over-hyped. The reactions of the film fraternity were interesting at the premiere. They said something to the camera and something else privately. And everyone seemed unsure of what to say, asking each other ‘what do you think?' and almost scared to say anything bad about the film. That perhaps was the real verdict…and not what has been published otherwise.

3 comments:

Bala Girisaballa said...

Apurv, Being a parent of a special need child, it is difficult for us to see this movie (we avoided TZP too). Positive or not, its just difficult for us. But I think in general, any such movie is welcome (despite its hype) mainly because it increases awareness & sensitivity and understanding. And all spl need parents require this. I personally know of few parents who are in denial or are embarrassed to let their children integrate - and this will help them integrate better in society.

Apurv Nagpal said...

hi ! Bala

i understand your reaction

my sister is disabled, acute cerebral palsy, and has been this way for 37 years, so i also find it hard to watch some of these films. I remember switching off '15 Park Avenue' midway due to the same reason

some films, like TZP do emotionally resonate more though because of our higher sensitivity - and i in fact find that a good thing...perhaps, i 'enjoy' them more, my heartstrings get tugged quicker / faster / stronger

Paa is reasonably frothy, esp in the first half. try it. maybe it works for you ? TZP is much more emotionally draining, and perhaps to your point, i cant watch either of them again....

Paurush said...

I am happy to slightly disagree with you on this one (I say this as majority of the movies watched in 2009 have been post your review and have agreed fully after watching it).
I believe that this should have done better on a rating scale - at 6 it gets clubbed with APKGK and lower than Quick Gun Murugan!

It is a simple and subtle story line handled boldly by Balki. Some melodrama was unavoidable as on some 2 occassions it is mentioned that Auro will only live till 13 and getting the parents together was a given.

All in all, a great watch and I would think if 3 movies of Big B were to be chosen for his epitaph, this would stand a good chance to make it alongside Deewar and Black!