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Paa
Directed by: R Balakrishnan
Producer by: Sunil Manchanda
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Vidya Balan, Paresh Rawal, Arundhati Naag, Jaya Bachchan, Pratik Katare, Swini Khara
Music Dir: Ilaiyaraja

The two movies hitting the screens this Friday, December 4, 2009, are of different genres so they really dont compete for audience. But, millennium actor Amitabh Bachchan starrer 'Paa' steals the day. Director R. Balki puts Big B in an aura deserving of and matching the caliber of this class performer at his matured age of 67! And, Junior Bachhan, Abhishek, only complements and supplements his dadís excellence by delivering a stupendous performance. A relative newcomer, compared to the father-son duo, Vidya Balan, does exceedingly well too. The story is excellently woven and connects very well with its subplots. Music, choreography and styling are equally superb. Too many objectives, but it is an outstanding movie by any standard, not just Bollywood's.

One looks for what really could be the case or inspiration behind 'Paa'. In terms of probability, perhaps some of 'Paa' might take off from Francis Ford Coppola's 'Jack' where Robin Williams had a similar aging disorder like Auro. Then again, one wonders whether Amitabh's Auro is Brad Pitt's Benji from the 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'. One thing for sure, the actor is beyond recognition. Big B may well have delivered the biggest performance of his career in terms of character acting and just pure display of skills. He talks with a slight nasal twang and emotes through his be-spectacled eyes. True to the Bollywood spirit, 'Paa' is deep-rooted in melodrama, though not of the stereotypical kind. There are reflections of Hindi movies like 'Dard Ka Rishta', 'Kaash' or 'Heyy Babby' inasmuch as the estranged child unites the parents in all of them. 'Heyy Babby' seems closer to 'Paa' as Vidya Balan plays the same character of a single mother opposite Abhishek Bachchan who as the biological father of their child (Amol) suggests abortion and then alienates her for years. Later, Amol meets Auro at his school's annual function and awards him for his artistic excellence.

Auro is born with a rare genetic disorder called Progeria wherein a child ages fives times faster than his actual age. So at 13, Auro physically looks and functions like a 65 year old though he is mentally as young as his real age. Anyway, Auro is much different from the child character in Aamir Khan's 'Taare Zammen Par' though he also suffers from such a disease. The story centers on the 13-year-old genetically disordered child, suffering from Progeria and living with his mother and grandmother. The matter complicates when a politician visits his school, and Auro discovers that the politician is none other than his real dad.

The film starts when Abhishek Bachchan, a young politician, awards Auro at a school function. He is the biological dad who left the mom (his wife Vidya Balan) to take care of the unwanted pregnancy because he wanted to change the world. On the other hand, Vidya, not only didn't abort but nurtured her child even after discovering that he had a genetic disorder that aged the child five times his age. Besides, Vidya's mother Arundhati Naag let the child enjoy a normal world. That's how Auro learnt about King Kong, computers and mirchi. Incidentally, the child develops unknowingly friendship with his dad and wants to visit Rashtrapati Bhawan. Very soon Auro rebuilds his family and establishes his bond with his newfound daddy. He turns too warm towards his mother, grandmother and his special girl in class. However, most significant is the warmth between the father and the son. Here, the director proves his mettle by making things happen as normal. Not just that, for the Director to make the audience laugh at Auro's antics with the latter's one-liners in an otherwise emotional movie, is an achievement.

The entire movie should be credited with a performance par excellence. If Big B is outstanding, then Abhishek brings to life the young, uncorrupt leader who speaks straight. Vidya Balan proves herself again with a character that's a strong, desi woman; just like her debut 'Parineeta'. Music director Ilaiyaraaja and lyricist Swanand Kirkire enthrall the audience with three versions of the 'Udhi Udhi-Mudhi Mudhi' track. Critics have hailed the male and female versions by Shaan and Shilpa Rao as rendered to perfection.

R Balki's story is simple. But it traces the lovely bond between a father and son. One feels that there was really no need for a sub-plot where the dad tries to prove he's a visionary. Dialogues are crisp and witty. Sabyasachi, Aki Narula, Falguni Thakore and Rahul Agastya have demonstrated their creativity and Vidya Balan looks enchanting in saris. Abhishek in khadi and adolescent Auro in bright checks support the story. Make-up artist Christien Tinsley deserves a standing ovation for giving an extraordinary look to Big B as Auro. Very powerful yet poignant in many ways that makes the movie click! Yes, as you might have felt reading this - the movie is outstanding!


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