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PAAN SINGH TOMAR - Movie Review : Feeling proud as well as ashamed after watching this honest well crafted film revealing the bitter truth. (A Tribute by Bobby Sing) (Movies To See Before You Die - Biographical)

02 Mar, 2012 | Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / P / Movies To See Before You Die / Biographical / Movie Reviews / 2012 Releases

Paan Singh Tomar - Bobby Talks Cinema.com

First of all, I would like to admit that this is not a routine review of just another new film released this Friday from Bollywood. Because in true words, we all so called literate, knowledgeable countrymen sitting in the comfort of our cozy houses in the metros, simply have no right to judge this honest film made on a real-life gifted character, who was ready to die for the country if given a chance. So please excuse me if you were looking for a detailed movie review here as per the custom.

Beginning with the headline used above, I really felt both proud as well as ashamed after watching this honest well crafted film revealing the bitter truth of our Indian Social System through its powerful narrative.

PROUD, because the film perfectly proves to be a true example of CINEMA made in the right manner for the overall benefit of the society. CINEMA, as per my understanding is a powerful medium of expression which basically needs to serve two main purposes. It has to entertain as well as enlighten its viewers about the various important issues prevailing in the system which need to be addressed urgently. Though in India, the medium is largely used and exploited for mere entertainment of the masses, but still it feels proud to have directors like Tigmanshu Dhulia who are blessed with the spirit, understanding and enthusiasm to make movies on such subjects which otherwise remain untouched and underground due to their fiery political nature.

To be precise, how many of us ever knew about this character called PAAN SINGH TOMAR who actually existed in our society a few decades ago? We all love Cricket so much, remembering all its record makers and breakers on our tips. But how many of us ever knew about this seven-time NATIONAL CHAMPION in steeplechase (obstacle) race, a born athlete who later had to pick up arms and became a hard-core WANTED rebel (not Dacoit) of Beeharh? The film enlightens us all about Paan Singh’s sad life-story and thus fulfills its duty of being a “True Cinematic Effort” made by Tigmanshu, Irfan and the team. So on a positive note, I really felt great watching PAAN SINGH TOMAR as our own Bollywood product made in the most authentic manner as it should have been, ignoring all the commercial aspects associated with the business.

It also made me remember another proud product of our Indian Film Industry, BANDIT QUEEN directed by Shekhar Kapoor in 1994, which is till date considered to be a major benchmark in the history of Film-making in India. Interestingly, (as reported) director Tigmashu Dhulia worked with Shekhar in this project only in his early days, which undoubtedly must have helped while making his own present masterpiece on a similar subject. As mentioned above, BANDIT QUEEN was also mainly responsible of making its key character PHOOLAN DEVI, hugely famous all over the country, who was still alive at the time the film got released. But unfortunately PAAN SINGH TOMAR is not with us today, otherwise he would have surely got his much awaited honor and respect from the Indian audience after seeing this shocking bio-pic made on his actual life.

Before moving on to the acidic part of this write-up, I would like to say that as a movie, it’s a gripping experience which works majorly in its first half with a pinch of comic moments too, added brilliantly in its screenplay. The second half expectedly talks about the transformation part which can also be considered as just another ‘Vengeance Saga’ by many critiques. However, putting all the pieces together, it’s a lot more than only a revenge tale, taking you deep into the innocent world of PAAN SINGH and the reasons for which he was forced to pick up the gun.

Well supported by a spectacular cinematography, sharp editing and an award winning performance by Irfan Khan, it’s a worth watching gem striking a difficult balance between the life of a sportsman and a rebel. Though as I felt, the background score could have been better but still it serves the purpose well while watching the film. But here instead of giving you a review, I would like to mention a few dialogues of the film (as I can recall), which should be enough to prove the precious value of this rare gem (a biography) coming out of Bollywood after a long time.

As the film starts off, defining the thin line between a Dacoit and a Rebel, Paan Singh informs his officer saying, “Hamaar Mama Beeharh Ke Baaghi Thhey, Dacait Nahin…..Aur Bahut Izzat Thi Unki Purey Ziley Mein!”

After winning an important race, PAAN SINGH goes straight to his coach, touches his feet and says, “Guruji, Aap Hamare Guru Hain Par Aage Se Kabhi Hamein Gaali Mat Deejiyega, Hamse Sehan Nahin Hota”

On being addressed as a Daku by the reporter in his interview, Paan Singh comes forward and says, “‘Beeharh Mein Baaghi Hotey Hain…..Dacait Milte Hain Parliament Mein'.

In the last meeting (after becoming a rebel) with his supportive Military Officer, the Officer leaves Paan Singh saying, “Ab Main Tumse Kabhi Nahin Milunga Aur Yeh Hamari Aakhri Mulaqaat Hogi”……..but to this Paan Singh replies, “Par Khabrein Milti Rahengi!”

And lastly, on hearing the radio, broadcasting the news of Paan Singh Tomar’s search by the Police all over, he laughs in anger and says, “Jab Desh Ke Liye Bhaaga, Tab Kisi Ne Nahin Poocha………, Ab Beeharh Mein Bhaag Rahey Hain To Saaley Sab Naam Jap Rahey Hain!”

So, if the above few dialogues cannot convince you to watch PAAN SINGH TOMAR as soon as possible then I seriously don’t know what else can.

Now coming to the harsh part of this write-up, I felt ashamed after watching this flick due to more than one reason related to both Bollywood as well as the polticial social system we are living in.

Taking up Bollywood first, it was really a shame that this well-made film was lying in cans, waiting to get released for more than one year for some undisclosed reasons. If it was due to any personal disputes in the team then that’s a different case, but if it was due to lack of buyers (because of its non-commercial subject) then that is really something serious to think upon by the Industry. The word CINEMA is complete only if we keep on making films on diversified subjects related with its various genres. Otherwise it will be just like eating the same dish in dinner every day leading to boredom. So if films like PAAN SINGH TOMAR will continue finding difficulties in getting released then Who will like to make them in the near future?

It was also painful watching the movie as a viewer too since there were only 20-25 people watching it in the theater in its first show. At one end we all keep shouting loudly on all those crap movies offered to us week after week in the disguise of big budget multi-starrers. But when such a meaningful, well conceived and superbly performed enlightening movie releases, we don’t opt for it to save our money for something else. So it’s like double standard mindsets working on both the sides, in the makers as well as in the viewers. And if that goes on like this, then the gap between such enlightening gems is sure going to increase further, which would indeed be a big loss for all the true lovers of Indian Cinema.

Talking about the real theme of the film, I was ashamed to know the facts since I never knew or ever read about PAAN SINGH TOMAR’s tragedy before watching the film. As an Indian it was really shameful to know that Paan Singh opted for SPORTS during his Defence services, not due to any passion for athletics but only for the reason that in SPORTS there was no restriction on the quantity of meals you eat during a day. It was also shocking to know that even before going for international events, the Indian athletes were never given Spikes to wear in their practice sessions, but were asked to do the same just before the final race. (Reminding me of another film under-production on the life of MILKHA SINGH)

Further, it was really disgusting to see the way, a NATIONAL CHAMPION from the Defence services was treated by a Police officer asking him the proof of winning all the games and throwing away his Gold medal with some loud abuses. And then how the same NATIONAL CHAMPION was not given any chance of “A Dialogue” or “Surrender” by the government for whom he had served and won several prizes during his service tenure.

But that was not all, as the biggest shock came when in the end they showed a whole list of names on the black screen, who were NATIONAL Champions in OLYMPICS and other games but had died eventually either due to lack of medical treatment or being penniless without any kind of help given from the Indian Government. Reading the list scrolling on the screen was really disheartening which only reminded me of a scene from the film itself, which was just contradicting to the list.

In the movie, as the WAR is on, everyone is leaving for the Front but Paan Singh is not allowed to go since he is a fantastic Athlete representing the Defence forces in its various competitions. When he questions this decision from his officers, he is told that “Sportsmen are not allowed to go because they are our National Treasures and we cannot afford to lose them”.

The words came to my mind while reading the list of all those great sportsmen shown on the screen and I asked to myself,
“Are these talented people, the NATIONAL TREASURES of the country only till the day they can perform on the field?
Don’t they remain the same NATIONAL TREASURES once they get retired?
And Isn’t this a NATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY of the Nation’s Government to take care of all these gifted personalities after their retirement, till their last breath and give them a honorable farewell in the end?”.

The same principle applies to every art form including the Film Industry, where we have recently seen veterans like A. K. Hangal in a sorry state asking for monetary help on the national news channels.

So this is not a review of the film PAAN SINGH TOMAR but a humble tribute from my side along with Tigmanshu and Irfan Khan, for such blessed souls who were sadly not treated well by our own society. Paan Singh may have opted for a wrong or debatable path in order to fight for this own rights. But had the Government been there to take care of him in those difficult days, considering him as A NATIONAL TREASURE, we could have got a great COACH instead of a REBEL running in the Beeharh.

Ratings : RESPECT instead of Stars and Highly Recommended.

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02 Mar 2012 / Comments ( 17 )
amit joshig

speechless...........I am surely going to watch.

Bobby Sing

Thanks Amit and do watch it asap and share your views too.


Gr8 Review & well written.

This movie was not even marketed on TV ,all the commercial flicks get so well marketed otherwise. May be new director & all thats why?

Thanks coz of ur update went to this once first instead of london,paris ...

Somehow your getting upset on the system & raising that point brings a question is this why eveyone in this country is in a rat race & corruption exists?
The fear of insecurity makes us greedy to think of our own self ignoring others?
Also the athlete\'s n stars of the country still had there set of glamour & recognition in the blessed yrs what bout people who have not made it large ie the common man ,are\'nt they expected to have a quality life ..i am sure the question remains unattended by leaders of the nation.
Some people in small towns are so talented n before they become a story the real life puts THE END board.

The movie reminded me of my days of media when i was in media i met a guy named Kalli in ludhiana, he used to skip rope & had some records of diff level, lot of punjabi newspaper cuttings he came with, helped me a lot on the entire trip just to be covered ...7 skips in a flick of eye...you throw a ball at him skipping it will not touch him .. i did a story on him but my producer refused to carry the story telling me it was a waste of time. I could n\'t cary the story & he would call every now n then to enquire ,then he gave up & after few months called me to ask for a favour to hide his cousin in delhi for some days who fired at some guy..i refused .no call post that..My thoughts went directly onto him on how he would have shaped up?

Bobby Sing

Thanks Harpreet for your eleborate comment and it was really enlightening to know about Kalli.
No dount there might be many more Kalli in our country who can perform but die without getting the much deserved chance.
This is the Irony of life, Irony of Fate, Irony of our own KARMA.



To entertain as well as to enlighten.

I am pen-less for a moment............your understanding and relevant expression almost drafted a huge canvas on my thinking pattern as a wonderful impressionistic. I have not yet seen this movie but I could easily relate myself to it while going through your take to it. I congratulate you for thinking again out of the box and came out with a tribute instead of reviews for it shows how very passionate you are towards learning and every method of expression which helps you to learn as well. "To entertain as well as to enlighten " The very first time when these words were used was by God Vishnu to Maya when Maya asked her purpose of being. Later it becomes motto of life and every subject which comes under its roof. Projection as always been most powerful mode of following this philosophy and hence movies took that place most easily. I am glad you too follow the same principle of Maya through your passion and entertain as well as enlighten us through your understandings. I am so glad to see that you too carry part of Oshotv Wand in your hand.

Rest about my opinion about movie and its content........will have to wait till I see it......witness it.....which I shall do it soon for sure........and then shall pay my part of tribute too along with you.

Regards and thanks again to you dear Bobby,

Bobby Sing

Thanks a lot Vinay for your insightful comment and the honor is all mine to be read in that context really.
Its not only encouraging but also gives me more power to continue doing what I love with my full efforts and spirits.

So thanks once again and Cheers with

manish bhardwaj

After a long time i am gonna watch a movie. Thanks Sir..

Bobby Sing

The Pleasure is all mine Manish and I am sure you would love it.


Harmohan Singh

Even IRFAN is very satisfied with the movie as he quotes in BBC that "If two lines of script are able to impress then its going to be a good movie....A National Award Winner Athlete becomes a rebel.....Why? That is enough good plot for a good movie.

Your reviews are the ones I depend on because of their unbiased nature & your critical appreciation.Yes Paan Singh Tomar is a worth watching movie, an \'excellence\' seen on the Indian screen, in the character enacted by IrfanKhan ,after along time.Not to be missed.

With good wishes,

Bobby Sing

Thanks a lot Poornima for you kind comment and frankly keep posting as that keeps up the spirits of a passionate writer like myself.
And do join me at FACEBOOK if you wish to be in regular contact about my postings.



shah nawaz khan

Indeed it was most remarkable film made by the Team of PAAN...
This film shakes u & ur beliefs..what else u want to be..Ace Athlete,Defence personal and a person who brought laurels to the country...still the system is such it can never take care of you..thats one turns into a Baghi as per the protaganist..

Your take on this classic film was very good...indeed instead of a review you have given us thoughtful view of this film...
It is indeed shameful that filmmakers as well as viewers are of double stds..they say onething and do the opposite..
I have seen the movie.. no words to describe it one has to just watch it..

Bobby Sing

Thanks Shah Nawaz Khan for appreciating my honest Tribute to PAAN SINGH TOMAR instead of a routine review.
And I hope Indian audience as well as Indian Film-makers soon get over this duality in their minds.

Keep Visiting and Writing In!

gagan chawla

Sir the movie was hard hitting and realistic...irrfan was exemplary...a movie that surely made indian cinema proud....i am glad that this meaningful cinema excelled both critically and commercially....i hope irfan gets a national award for this...he deserves like no one else...

Bobby Sing

Happy to hear that everyone liked this wholeheartedly.

Movies as such do need to be applauded and supported well so that the makers gets their deserving dose of encouragement.

So thanks to all from the makers team too.

Hello Sir,

I just managed to watch Paan Singh Tomar yesterday. No Doubt, the movie is brilliantly crafted and Irfan Khan has done award winning job. However, I tend to go more critical on critically acclaimed movies. Hence, I have some points in my mind which I felt were loose points in the film.

Paan Singh Tomar\'s life has three phases: Rising to National Champion, Societal issues forcing him to revolt and then life of a \"Baghi\". In the movie, the first two phases have been just touched in the first half and then complete second half has been devoted to later part of life.

During the movie, director emphasizes that his national achievement has never been dealt so often in public while his act as Baghi has been flashing in media more often. The director unfortunately follows the same path. He devoted more time on his heinous act as Baghi but never discuss his state of mind in much detail. I was more interested to see a kind of superficial discussion on mentality of a person who was once a national champion working for the government and later turned against the government.

Also, film could have taken in more emotional drama when societal reason was forcing him to revolt. This could have been an ideal stage to discuss in detail about the reason of having so many \"reputed baghis\" from the same area as opposed to other areas.

In other words, film just touches upon his achievement before showing a glimpse of issues pertaining to his revolt and later shows in detail about the what he did after turning a Baghi.

The ideal scene was also set up when his uncle (who forced him to turn Baghi) was at his gun point. But there was no discussion at that point too. One may say that it was in accordance with actual story but as films add some fiction, it could have been added here as well. Similarly, the same impact could have been created when he again met with his coach but the discussion was very well avoided. One more time when he meets his wife at his son\'s marriage, there could have been more emotional drama just to show his state of mind but it went missing. The scene of his mother\'s murder could have been made more impactful but director didn\'t choose to elaborate that scene.

My main point is that with such a great story, mind-blowing acting, the film could have made viewers cry on each scene understanding the impact corruption creates on society.

The background music was a negative point of the movie. I had expected more from talented Sandeep Chhowta.


Bobby Sing

Hi Neelabh,

Your comment shows that you do have the gift of thinking about various aspects of a character or story but thats not enough as along with that you also need to know how a film is made and the process behind that.

Like for a film adaptation of a real story a maker needs to look at the time span of each scene and duration of the whole movie together so that he can justice to all the important parts of the lead character's life in the given time of 2 to 3 hours.

If all the phases of his life are given equal emphasis then the film will cross its time limit and will become a documentary and not an entertainnig film. In short, for a film both the writer and director actually go for the PUNCH in the narraton which can bring the viewer in and that PUNCH is always there in the revolt part in any kind of story...........Like in Ramayana or Mahabharata, unless you give the proper time and stress to the actual FIGHT the story remains dull and uninteresting.

Further, here is my friendly suggestion to you as a movie lover.

Its very easy to find weak points in any film, as that satisfies a thinking person a lot. But in my opinion it needs more courage to praise a good film or anything with full spirits than for criticising it. So if a film is good and worth watching then try to forget everything else, otherwise you will lose the spirit of enjoying it in the right way. If a product is good and worth praising then dont delibrately try to go for criticising it....Thats not the job of a good critic.

To be precise if you will keep on finding loopholes in all the well made films too to satisfy your creative urge then WHAT FILMS YOU WILL ENJOY IN THE END.......?
In that way you will be left with nothing in your hand. So as per my suggestion try to see the things that way as nothing is perfect in this world.


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