wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
A film that invokes thoughts on varying subjects from single parenthood, rare diseases to politics. And it does so successfully. As if that weren't enough it is all put together in a relatively unusual plot and has one superb performance by Amitabh Bachchan which overshadows brilliant performances by the rest of the cast too.Read more
When I start writing my opinion of a film, I usually close my eyes looking for that one thought that is a wholesome description of the film. In most cases, where an actor's name does the deal, the film doesn't have a substantial plot. It would fall apart if that actor was not playing the said character. This doesn't hold true for Paa. The first thought and the last one are Amitabh Bachchan and Amitabh Bachchan only. But what comes in between is extremely valuable to the audience's experience and to the core of the film. Sure, there are many aspects pertaining to the challenges a single parent faces while managing a child with a rare disease. But, there are enough nuances touched upon to make the viewing worthwhile. That is, if such a performance is not gratifying enough.
My apprehension before the film was that the entire do will become about Amitabh Bachchan, the star or the real life father-son relationship or equally worse, a combination of both. I'm so glad my apprehensions were absolutely uncalled for. You realize Auro is Amitabh Bachchan only when you make yourself think about it. Else you wouldn't even realize its him. Of course, a lot of that is due to the make-up artiste. Any talk of the film without a salute to the make-up person and the costume designer would be a complete disregard for these art forms. And yet, none of them would have been enough if it wasn't for the stooped shoulder, the expressive eyes, the quivering lips, and so on.
Now, before this piece becomes an essay on the Big B, let's move on to the other aspects of the film. You but cannot refrain from nodding your head in approval at the portrayal of politics even if it is mostly over-idealistic. Amitabh's performance along with Vidya Balan's elegant composure completely overshadows Abhishek Bachchan's depiction of the young, dynamic politician we so badly need.
And despite dealing with such heavy topics as these, the entire film has a very light tone, right to the end. Every time the going gets a little serious, little Auro, has something hilariously spontaneous to say - just like children always do.
Then there are these things which are over-simplified. Like the overall compassion with which people from all ages and backgrounds treat an abnormal child. Also, the social acceptance of an illegitimate child and his mother was a tad too uneasy to digest. It is obvious that these issues were intentionally left out of the equation to help focus on the characters and their relationships. But these issues are conspicuous by their absence.
Similarly, the whole comment on parents' complete disregard to anything creative as a source of living was in bad taste. A wee bit exaggerated it was, in order to get those extra laughs. Also, the maturity that 12-13 year olds show seems a bit beyond their age. The climax too seems a little too melodramatic compared to the tone of the rest of the film.
Usually, films that deal with topics as varied as politics and rare genetic conditions leave you with a feeling that it should have been 2 different films, but this one blended the two together very well. Or they are interesting enough that you don't mind seeing them at one go. It was almost as if these are the two burning issues R. Balki wanted to talk about and he had only one film to do it in. At the very least, Paa documents the state of media and current affairs of the country in the naughts.
For the longest time now, I've been waiting for an Amitabh film that I really enjoyed. Finally, it's here. I wouldn't want to adjoin any more superlatives to his performance and the challenges he must have faced in getting it all right, I would want you to go and find out for yourself. Yes, you there…go get those tickets for you and your family!
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Bobby Singh, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...The marketing team very pleasantly came up with a positive feel in its promos accompanied by some soothing music and captivating dance movements featuring the main character “Auro”. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Anand Vaishnav, Buzz18 : ...As a plot, Paa is inherently Bollywood with subtle influences of Shekhar Kapoor's Masoom, Mahesh Bhatt's Kaash and Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par... full review
Thumbs up, by Rakesh, Desicritics : ...The movie starts off with Jaya Bachchan narrating the titles and this got me real confused. I mean, what were those expressions; somewhere between giggling on an adult joke and trying to suppress the urge to go to the loo... full review
Thumbs up, by Deepa Garimella, fullhyd.com : ...The make-up, and the muffled and faked voice distract you from what's really inside, but the unmistakable Bachchan signature emerges when the humour kicks in.... full review
Thumbs up, by Mayank Shekhar, Hindustan Times : ...For most parts, the MP takes on the irresponsibility and trivialisation of television news. This should suit the opinion of the streets. It could fetch the film its box-office returns.... full review
Thumbs up, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...Steering clear of pity, even in delicate scenes, Balki avoids the obvious pitfalls that come with stories about characters suffering from grim conditions.... full review
Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, IBOS : ...In many ways Auro reminded me of Anand. In Hrishikesh Mukherje’s Anand, Rajesh Khanna enters into mildly troubled lives fills them with joie de vivre and vanishes into the oblivion of mortality.... full review
Thumbs up, by Susan Jose, India-Forums : ... Abhishek Bachchan is squeaky clean and good-looking. He is compelling. But he still hasn't reached the point where he can stir up your emotions. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Mihir Fadnavis, india.com : ...More than often, the film curiously pushes Auro to the background, which is frustrating because his presence lights up every frame of the film.... full review
Thumbs up, Indicine : ...Paa isn’t flawless nor as emotionally touching as Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par. But Balki’s simple narration, the character of Auro, along with the brilliance of Mr Bachchan - makes Paa one of the best movies of the year.... full review
Thumbs up, by Minty Tejpal, Mumbai Mirror : ...When you see your favourite actor ever wearing a large oversized head with bulging veins, looking almost alien and unrecognisable, you wonder, especially considering some of the recent costume dramas Amitabh Bachchan has been in. Well, Paa turns out to be an absolutely delightful film, chiefly due to the endearing 12-year-old character masterfully played by the 67-year-old Amitabh Bachchan, as also because of the sharp, deft tone director Balki maintains throughout. As a film Paa is smartly designed to tug at your weepy glands, which it does unabashedly, but without ever resorting to unnecessary hysterics or clichéd melodrama. So you may well cry, but will also certainly enjoy, for the dialogue stays sharp and witty, the entire cast is in top form, and the tone of the film is light and teasing. Paa promises to be a different experience, and that starts right at the beginning, when all the credits are read out on screen by a seated, smiling, sari-clad Jaya Bachchan, a refreshing departure. Then follows a simple story, but well told. Abhishek Bachchan and Vidya Balan meet and become lovers during their college years in London. When Vidya gets pregnant, Abhishek, a politician’s son being groomed to inherit the family business, is hesitant to be a father. So they break up, and Vidya disappears to Lucknow. Supported by her strong single mother (Arundhati Nag) she decides to bring up her child, who has been diagnosed with progeria, a premature aging disease. Twelve years later the child becomes Auro (Amitabh Bachchan), a large bald school kid with a nasal voice, crooked teeth and gangly gait. One day he meets his father, now a well-known MP, and an unusual friendship develops between them, though both are unaware of their relationship until interval. Then the father-son trot off on a trip to Delhi, until Abhishek realises Auro is his own son. From there on the film is about awkward Auro getting his estranged parents together, even as his own life ebbs out. Except for the entire slum redevelopment and media bashing angle, which jarred and seemed out of place, the rest of Paa works like magic. Amitabh Bachchan is almost unrecognisable as Auro, which would surely have been a big gamble. Get the most famous face in India and cover him in a large shower cap which looks like an upturned pregnant belly. Yet it pays off big time. Amitabh plays Auro as a sharp, pesky fellow, who loves video games, is conscious of his ‘image’ and shy of girls. As a child he has the right to use words like potty and bum, which he abuses to the hilt. Finally, Auro has a special delightful gawky dance, reminiscent of a lanky Amitabh from his younger days, which the kids of today and yesterday are sure to love. Abhishek is refreshing and restrained as the suave honest politician, while Vidya Balan again shows the immense promise of Parineeta, which she seemed to have lost in her last few forgettable films. Vidya delivers a strong, graceful performance as a single mother, ably supported by Arundhati Nag. Special mention must be made of the entire school cast, who were all natural and endearing, especially Vishnu, who is just delightful as Auro’s best friend. Reflecting his vast advertising background which deals in 60 second spots, Balki pays minute attention to each specific frame, and it shows in the sharp production design and cinematography. But finally, Paa rightfully belongs to Big B, who in an award-winning performance, makes it all look like child’s play once again. Go watch it quickly, and please, also take your ma to Paa. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Khalid Mohamed, Passion for Cinema : ...Despite the prosthetics you watch every tiny twitch of the actor’s grey-rimmed eyes, and a gash of a mouth which turns prim or breaks into rat-a-tat giggles.... full review
Thumbs up, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Even though the film's not called Maa, it easily could be. Vidya Balan slips into the skin of a doting mom with such ease without the mollycoddling tone Bollywood's young mothers often resort to... full review
Thumbs up, by Rajiv Vijayakar, Screen : ...Ilayaraja’s songs (especially Mudi mudi) and even more his background score augment the emotional mood and quotient of the film wonderfully, a... full review
Thumbs up, by Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India : ...The film, which peters off into vague sub-plots about slum redevelopment and unwarranted media-bashing in the first half, suddenly picks up and scales new heights in the second half.... full review
Thumbs up, by Fakir Hassen, TONIGHT : ... Supported by technical experts from Hollywood who designed the realistic masks worn by Auro, director R Balki does a superb job that will leave many a tear in viewers' eyes.... full review
So-So, by Debojit Ghatak, Indian Auteur : ...he has taken the conventional suave Reid & Taylor borne image of Amitabh Bachchan and completely destructed it to create a character so far removed from where we started with, that it exceeds the achievement of the rather run-of-the-mill film it is placed inside... full review
Thumbs down, by Kaushik Chatterjee, Desicritics : ...Inclusion of some form of political commentary seems to have become a filmmaker's benchmark of sorts and Balki fails miserably on this count... full review
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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
Auro (Amitabh Bachchan) has a rare genetic disorder which causes him to age 4-6 times his actual age. So this 13-year old has the body of a 80-year old. Amol Arte (Abhishek Bachchan) is a politician with the right value system. And their paths cross. How do they influence each others' life, if at all?