Director: R Balki
How would you feel if your father went on national TV and confessed that you were a result of what was clearly a passionate interlude,minus any thought of consequences? The gap between condom and contraception is filled by 12 year old Auro,who has a bald head,awkward gait,and a disease thats progressively pushing him into the grave. Theres grace in Auro,but not in Paas script,which sags under the weight of many more such obvious statements.
Paa is the story of a boy who has Progeria,a degenerative disease that accelerates aging manifold. So twelve-going-on-thirteen Auro (Amitabh,in marvellous make-up) suffers from the problems of a frail 80 year old,who,we are told,is in constant mortal danger.
When your lead characters arc is so defined from the films initial frames,you can leaven predictability by taking us places we havent been before. But director R Balki doesnt surprise us enough,and that makes a film that could have been extra-ordinary,less than.
Some of it is nice enough. The interactions between Auro and his schoolmates are lively and engaging,which includes his running away from a cute little girl whos always chasing him. Twelve year old boys are known to do these things,and the directors penchant for creating preternaturally wise children (R Balkis debut Cheeni Kum also had a grandmotherly young thing suffering from an incurable disease) stands him in good stead here,overcoming Amitabhs slight confusion in toneold man playing a young boy playing an old man.
With his wheedling (dont want bland khichdi,want mirchi),mild sulking and then forgetting when his mom gets him a new Playstation gig (isko aise khelte hain),and a winning,toothless smile,Amitabh-Auro is quite the boy.
The kids are fine; it is the adults who are the problem. Having got Amol (Abhishek Bachchan) and Vidya (Vidya Balan) to come together that one time,the director sends them on their separate ways. So Auro grows up with Mum and Bum-the-grandmum (Arundhati Nag,the only one who gets a fully-realised role,to which she does full justice),and Amol busies himself with playing the most idealistic-and-hardworking MP ever to grace the screen,oblivious that he has a son.
The reunion of father-and-son,which should have been the heart of the film,doesnt get enough play,as Amol goes after the media (in a heavy-handed,improbable sequence,the clean MP is made to unmask corrupt mediapersons on TV: what could R Balki be thinking?). Balan,in a role which could have had more impact,is made to spout a speech which consists of irregular periods and fibroids and appropriate child-bearing age.
Sure,she plays a gynaecologist,but still. And there is altogether too much potty chatter,which becomes unfunny after a couple of times,spattering the film. Whatever happened to subtlety?
A great score by Ilaiyaraja,some lilting lyrics by Swanand Kirkire,and the kind of cinematography by PC Sreeram (lots of overhead shots) which makes you believe a six foot plus sixty plus could conceivably be an affecting pre-teen,are all enjoyable. But,disappointingly,Paa is not as out-of-the-box as it could have been.