Rajeev Masand / CNN-IBN
Published on Fri, Dec 04, 2009 at 23:37, Updated on Mon, Dec 07, 2009 at 02:26 in Entertainment section
Tags: Masand's Verdict, Now Showing , Cast
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CASTING MASTERSTROKE: Amitabh Bachchan steps into the relatively small shoes of 13-year-old Auro.
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Vidya Balan
Director: R Balakrishnan
most kids his age, Auro doesn't want his friends to see his mum
dropping him off at school. He's not very fond of girls, and most of
his jokes involve the potty and what you place on it. In fact, he seems
so obsessed with that particular body part he's nicknamed his grandma
'Bum', because she's got a big one.
Auro, of course, is the protagonist of director R Balki's Paa.
He's your average mischievous 12-year-old, except for the fact that he
has progeria, a rare medical condition that accelerates the ageing
process. So although he's only stepping into his teens, Auro has the
body of a 65-year-old.
In what can be best described as a casting masterstroke, Amitabh Bachchan steps into the (relatively) small shoes of Auro. Contrary to what the film's marketing conveys, Paa is actually a mother-son story. Vidya Balan
plays single-mum Vidya, who raises Auro with some help from her mother,
after dumping her selfish boyfriend in college, when he suggests an
abortion. Amol (played by Abhishek Bachchan) is not ready for marriage; he is keen to follow his father into politics.
later, Amol, who is now a Member of Parliament, accidentally meets Auro
at a school event, both oblivious to the fact that they are father and
Much in the same vein as the director's previous film Cheeni Kum, the first half of Paa
unfolds breezily, with witty dialogue and clever scenes used
effectively to establish the characters and their relationships.
Steering clear of pity, even in delicate scenes, Balki avoids the
obvious pitfalls that come with stories about characters suffering from
is however, one major speed-bump before intermission, a track in which
the young politician Amol launches into a verbal attack on the media.
It sticks out in the film because that scenario is so amateurishly
scripted and comes off looking embarrassingly self-righteous.
are more problems in the film's second half when the tone suddenly
turns exceedingly manipulative, and several scenes are stretched
unnecessarily like the one in a Delhi metro where Auro questions Amol
about the futility of having bodyguards.
Despite these hiccups, Paa
is ultimately an engaging film because of its largely original writing.
One of the best scenes in the film is a hilarious telephone
conversation between Auro and a classmate of his, in which the latter
explains just how frustrated he is with his father. Most scenes, in
fact, between Auro and his buddies at school are a pleasure to watch
because of the natural performances Balki is able to derive from his
the cast Arundhati Naag is endearingly warm as Auro's feisty grandmum,
and Pratik Katare gets his timing spot-on as Auro's best friend Vishnu.
Abhishek Bachchan is a tad smug as the new-gen politician, and tries a little too hard to force the 'coolness' down our throats.
In the end, Paa belongs to mother and son. Vidya Balan delivers her best work since Parineeta,
emerging the emotional soul of this film with a graceful, restrained
performance that she constructs with minimal help from the script. She
strikes up a warm maternal chemistry with Auro and her scenes with him
are the film's most heart-felt.
The centerpiece of the action, of course, is Amitabh Bachchan.
Under that excellent prosthetic make-up, his baritone replaced by a
childish squeaky voice, Bachchan becomes Auro. There is no trace of the
legendary 68-year-old star; what you get is a pitch-perfect performance
as a gawky but spirited teenager.
Sreeram's dazzling cinematography and Illayraja's soothing score help
make up for many of the script's flaws, and ultimately contribute to
making Paa an easy, enjoyable watch.
I'm going with three out of five for director R Balki's Paa.
Few filmmakers stick their necks out to tell difficult and different
stories in these days of mindless entertainers making potloads of
money. For their intentions alone, the makers of Paa deserve a thumbs-up.
Rating: 3 / 5
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