‘Paa’ is the talk of the town; not only the town but the whole of India and beyond among the film lovers. It is true that there are a lot of people who say the movie is lousy and Bachchan is crap. Surf the net and you’ll see every piece of writing admiring ‘Paa’ will be countered by articles abusing the movie in general and Bachchans in particular. But then you immediately know they are biased and motivated. So let me not dwell too long on these issues. I am writing about something unheard of in Indian movies before.
There are critics who compare the movie with the ‘The curious case of Benjamin Button’. But this movie is absolutely different except for the ‘Progeria’ issue. This movie is about life and about living your life to the best of what you have got. This is also a movie that celebrates the ‘Greatest Indian movie star of all times’.
Amitabh Bachchan, He has acted in so many movies which were plain dumb. Toofan, Jadugar, GJS, Lal Badshah, RGV ke Aag and many more. But then he has given us some of the most poignant moments in movies like Mili, Anand, Deewar, Muqaddar ka Sikandar and Baghbaan. He also gave us many outrageously funny movies like Amar Akbar Anthony, Khuddaar, Namak Halaal and Satte Pe Satta.
Cheeni Kum was a nice and intelligent movie. Sarkar was intense and good stuff. He did well even in multi-star capers like KANK, K3G and Mohabbatein. But the one thing missing was ‘Something Special’. All he did was good, but nothing great!
And now finally Bachchan has broken the jinx. At the age of 67, he plays ‘Auro’ a 13 year old boy with a very rare congenital illness that leads to accelerated ageing and early death, Progeria or “Hutchinson–Gilford Progeria Syndrome". Auro, his mother, grand-mother, his teachers at school and even his friends take it as a matter of fact. There is no lamenting or no melodrama. But all are concerned about Auro and they take care of him well. He grows up to be a funny and fun-loving but a little too head-strong boy with a very sharp brain. In spite of his frail health and awkward looks, he is a very popular character at school. And he comes up with one-liners that are simply funny. When his grand-mother starts getting on his nerves, he tells his bear, “Are you not a non-vegetarian? Why don’t you eat her?” He is a boy with an attitude too. Written on the door of his room, “Knock, else I will knock your head off’. He also has his way when he decides to leave his best friend Vishnu back as he joins his Politician Father on a trip to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
R. Balki, who also made the delightful ‘Cheeni Kum’ with Bachchan and Tabu has come out on top with a fabulous idea and a wonderful movie experience. The beauty that Bachchan brings to the role of the 13 year old Auro is matchless. You feel like you are one of those characters in the movie as you cheer on towards a climax. Vidya Balan as his Gynecologist mother and Abhishek Bachchan as her estranged lover and Auro’s father are very good. Arundhati Nag is good too. Only Paresh Rawal is perhaps a little wasted. Auro’s friends are cute and loveable and Vishnu is too good.
There are moments like the little girl apologizing to Auro and presenting him with a caricature of himself made of ‘Sorry’ that are touching. You will not be wetting your hankies even though Auro has to depart at the end. If they were to re-promote this movie, I have a slogan for them. “His birth did them apart. He lived as everyone’s loved. And his death had to bring them together”.
A very mature and sensitive movie from the Bachchans and R. Balki. Let us all stand up and applaud at this moment for a truly wonderful movie experience gifted to us during this Christmas by the Big B!
And especially a huge thank you to Balki!