Watching R Balki’s Paa has been so uplifting. It teaches you to celebrate the goodness of life— however short it is.
Auro (Amitabh Bachchan)— a 12 year old patient of progeria suffers from a rare congenital disorder which makes him age rapidly. He has been brought up by a single mother (Vidya Balan) and his grandmother (Arundhati Naag). Ask Vidya and she will simply say that in the huge genetic code of the human body, a C is replaced by a T and that creates the wonderful Auro! That is the beautiful part — nowhere does the film rue about the tragedy of the inevitable. All the characters, including the main protaganist, live their life to the fullest, grabbing whatever fun that comes their way. To add to the mirth are Auro’s wisecracks, his irrefutable logic and the childish wisdom of his friends. Amol Arte (Abhishek Bachchan) a young politician modelled on Sachin Pilot and Rahul Gandhi, Auro’s Paa who doesn’t know about his aged son is part of the background plot.
The strengths of the film are definitely Auro’s prosthetics and the creativity behind creating the progeric look. The film is Auro’s all the way. At no place do you see any semblance to the Amitabh Bachchan we’ve known for decades on screen. To add to that Auro’s voice in a nasal whisper is nowhere near India’s most famous baritone. Only the maestro could have pulled this one off– it is his best work. And Amitabh Bachchan needs a standing ovation as only he could have the conviction to play the role of a 12 year old at age 67. Balki’s fresh dialogues work wonders. He repeats his magic of Cheeni Kum and you will remember them like you remember ghaas phoos. And like that movie, he will put you off fish curry forever!
Vidya Balan looks wonderful and the Indian look suits her best. She works as a gynaecologist and as Auro would say ‘bachche paida karti hai’. She has delivered a terrific performance. Arundhati Naag as “Bum” is great and we look forward to seeing her more often. Abhishek is restrained and that works to his charm. The plot seems to indulge in media bashing and politics but simplifies the issue too much. Jaya Bachchan’s cameo shows that her ‘guddi-ness’ hasn’t disappeared — thankfully! The kids are wonderful— especially ‘creative’ Vishnu with his philosophy on his Dad.
Any other director would have made a rona-dhona film out of this. But not this wise Balakrishnan. This is the Balki magic— of creating characters who are wry and wicked and witty. (Remember Cheeni Kum’s Zohra Segal and Sweeny Khara?) Characters who remain with you even when you get out of the cinema hall. And full marks to Illayaraja for those lingering tunes which I can’t get out of my head.
And Amitabh Bachchan. Don’t even listen to those who advise you retirement! Auro rocks!