Friday, December 4


paa-movie-poster-3Movie - PAA (Hindi)
Director - R Balakrishnan a.k.a Balki
Producer - Abhishek Bachchan, Sunil Manchanda
Cast - Abhishek Bachchan, Vidya Balan, Arundhati Naag, Paresh Rawal, Pratik Katare and introducing Amitabh Bachchan as Auro :)
Music - Maestro Ilaiyaraaja
Cinematography - PC Sreeram
Editing - Anil Naidu
Art Direction - Sunil Babu
Lyrics - Swanand Kirkire
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - R Balki
Release Date - 4th December 2009

Amitabh Bachchan playing a 13 year old at the age of 67. Now, this news itself was the biggest promotion for the film Paa. And add to that, Abhishek playing reel-life father to his real-life father, the media went crazy creating story after story and speculations about the movie. When the first look of the film was out, everyone went all out saying that the movie was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button told in reverse, because of the Progeria disease. (At least this film explains the cause of the abnormality, there was hardly any explanation about the curious case in that movie :P) And since the disease was featured in another Hollywood film Jack, they started saying Paa is a rip-off of that one. 'The media should be more responsible' as Abhishek says in the movie, because Paa is none of these and is a completely heart-warming tale of a wonderful child called Auro played astoundingly by Mr.Amitabh Bachchan.  After Ishaan Nandkishore Awasthi, Auro is here to steal your hearts.

Paa is the story of Auro(Amitabh Bachchan), a child who is affected with an extremely rare genetic disease called Progeria, where the child is 5 times his age, physically, while his mental age is perfectly normal. So when he is a 13 year old child and behaves like one, he looks like a 65-70 year old man. Auro was brought up by a single mother Vidya (Vidya Balan), who is a gynecologist. Auro lives with his Maa and Bum (his grandma, played by a brilliant Arundhathi Naag) in a beautiful house and goes to one of the most prestigious schools around. He has a great circle of friends whom he has loads of fun with. But Auro is not aware of his father, Amol Aarte (Abhishek Bachchan), whom Vidya broke up with once she became pregnant (because he wasnt ready to accept the child). Amol is now a hot-blooded young politician who is focused on making the country a better place and proving that Politics, is not such a bad word after all. What happens when Auro and Amol become friends, forms the story of Paa.

Balki should really be appreciated for one thing. He has taken away everything that we have been relating to Mr.Amitabh Bachchan for all these years, in this movie. His personality, his grace, his new trademark goatee, and most of all, that voice of his. How can you get Bachchan without that baritone?? But Balki proves us wrong. You dont see Amitabh Bachchan anywhere in this movie. It is Auro right from the introduction scene till the end of the movie. And God, what a performance by the man as Auro. He is absolutely stupendous. Auro is witty, mischievous, sensitive, emotional, stubborn, loving, and of course, loads of fun. He breaks into a cheerful monkey dance whenever he is happy. By the time the movie gets over, you also feel like getting up and dancing like that. And another interesting fact is that, they have used the disease only as a backdrop for Amitabh to play this peculiar character. The movie is not 'about' Progeria, but Progeria just acts a catalyst in the narrative. 15 minutes into the movie, you completely forget about the disease, and start seeing Auro as a child only. Amol is an idealistic politician who makes 3 mistakes in the movie, according to Auro. The scene where he realizes his first mistake, is a gem. The movie is as much about Auro's Maa as it is about his Paa. Vidya, Auro's mother is a strong woman and she doesnt lose hope even when she knows her son is suffering from such a terrible disease.

amitabh-in-paaI just dont have enough words for Amitabh Bachchan's performance in the movie. I was really skeptical about the movie and his performance after I saw the promos and heard his voice in one of the songs. But he charms you like never before. Auro is one of his finest performances till date. Despite being covered almost fully by prosthetic make-up, Bachchan Saab emotes exceptionally. His body language, voice, behavioral pattern, everything is just like a child. His body language is truly exceptional. He gets clumsy when he gets nervous or excited, just like a child would. There are several similar nuances in his performance throughout the film. I thought Mohanlal would be getting the National Award this year for the Malayalam film Bhramaram, but after seeing Paa, I'm afraid the Big B will probably beat him at the awards this year. You do not get to see a 67 year old performing so wonderfully as a 13 year old very often. I can go on and on about his performance in the film, but I think it is best when you see it yourself. And one more thing, his performance is way better than Brad Pitt's in the extremely tedious Benjamin Button (for the losers who would want to compare both these films :P)

Paa-Movie-Stills-9-754951Abhishek Bachchan is wonderfully understated. He gives a credible and subtle performance throughout the film. Even though his episode with the media seems a little far-fetched, he makes it believable through his fine performance. To play screen dad to your real life dad, is not such an easy thing, especially when it is someone like Amitabh Bachchan. Watch out for him in the scenes where he breaks down in the second half. Fabulous acting, I must say. But the one who shines the most after Bachchan Sr, is of course, Vidya Balan. She was written off after some flops. But she is back with a vengeance. She looks absolutely stunning and delivers a fantastic performance. How many actresses of her age would dare to play mother to Amitabh Bachchan? Vidya pulls it off extremely well. Watch out for her in the scenes towards the end of the movie, she is brilliant!! Another brilliant example of good casting is Arundhati Naag, who plays Auro's grandmother, whom he fondly calls 'Bum' (for obvious reasons :P). She is truly wonderful. And its such a relief that Kirron Kher was not cast in that role. Paresh Rawal is impressive in his short role. Last time, he got Amitabh Bachchan as his son-in-law. This time, he gets him as his grandson. :D Just like 'Sexy' from Balki'sCheeni Kum, here we have another wonderful child, Pratik Katare, who plays Auro's best friend Vishnu. He gets the best lines in the movie and certain whistle-worthy scenes as well. Even the other friends of Auro from school are really good, especially the girl. Balki knows how to use children effectively, I must say. And thankfully, he doesnt show children in the stereotypical way they are portrayed in our films.

Though the subplot of the slums and corruption scam wasnt needed, it doesnt do much harm to the movie. Balki showed he is wonderful with sharp, witty dialogues in his first film Cheeni Kum itself. Same is the case with Paa. The film is full of witty one-liners, most of them delivered by Auro. Some of them really make you think. And the constant reference to potty by Auro stays true to the child's mindset at that particular age. Even though the screenplay is predictable at many instances, it is filled with wonderful moments that leave you smiling, so you dont really mind it. Balki keeps the narrative sweet and simple throughout, which works so well for this movie, which could have turned into a melodramatic bore in the hands of any other lesser director.  Employing new devices such as video-chat, mail, etc to carry forward the narrative, was a great idea, and it works very well too. And the part where Balki succeeds the most, is extracting exceptional performances from each member of the cast. This is only his second feature film, and he has shown so much maturity and sensitivity as a filmmaker. He is sure to go places in future. The innovative opening credits featuring the other most important member from the First Family of Hindi Cinema, would bring a smile on everyone's face. After all, Its all about loving your family. ;)

12Now about the two legends from south, PC Sreeram and Ilaiyaraaja. What can I say about them, that has not already been said!! PC shows why he is the best in India through his amazing cinematography. Be it the locales in Britain or the beautiful house of Auro and Vidya, he gives them the right colour tone and treatment through his camerawork. There is a shot where a car moves towards the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, through the Rajpath. It reminds you of a shot from Mani Ratnam's Mouna Ragam, where the camera was on the same Rajpath, but facing the India Gate, on the opposite direction. Both those shots are nothing short of brilliant. Ilaiyaraaja's music works wonders for the film. He lifts our spirits through his background score and has given some great melodious songs as well. 'Mudi Mudi' and 'Gumm Summ Gumm' are the picks of the lot. Too bad that Amitabh Bachchan's 'Mere Paa' is not used fully in the movie. But the theme music of the film is better than all the Hindi songs of the year put together. It gave me goosepimples each time it was played in the movie. So, PC sir and Raja sir, hats off!!! The jumpy editing by Anil Naidu worked very well in the 'Mudi Mudi' song. But it was jarring at certain other parts in the movie. But for most of its running time, the editor did a good job. Art direction by Sunil Babu was really good as well. The space of Auro's room was done really well. The prosthetic make-up by Christien Tinsley and Dominie Till is first-rate.

If you do not feel touched by this movie, then there should be something wrong with you. Such movies are not made quite often in Hindi Cinema. I thought Kaminey was the best film to have come out this year so far. But Paa has acquired that place now. Lets wait for 3 Idiots to see if that position would be changed. I'm sure Amitabh Bachchan and Vidya Balan would be walking away with almost all awards next year for their performances in the film. The good thing is that the movie does not get all sentimental and melodramatic as one expects when such a theme is taken. But for most parts, the movie makes you laugh out loud with its extremely witty dialogues and scenes. And otherwise, it would make you smile with so many great moments.Balki seems to be another Rajkumar Hirani in the making. He is all heart and we love it. :) :)  After a long time, I got moist-eyed while watching a Hindi film. (The last one to do this was Taare Zameen Par in a December 2 years ago). Paa should not be missed at any cost. It is truly a beautiful, heart-warming film with a landmark performance by the biggest superstar in the country, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. Hats off to you, Sir!! And Abhishek would be a very proud Paa, quite literally as he has also revived their home production company AB Corp Ltd. with such a beautiful film. :) :)

Rating - 4/5

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