There is a scene in the movie “Paan Singh Tomar”, where Paan Singh is in a police station with his certificates and medals trying to explain to the Police Chief the significance of his collections.
Now, the police chief does not have the advantage of Wikipedia. But we have. That is how, we know that Paan Singh Tomar was in the Indian Army and won several sports medals for India before he changed profession to Dacoity and died by it.
The biographical movie is enacted excellently by all actors. Irfan Khan is delicate and precise. He enters your soul through a niche which he only knows where to find.
There is a scene which points out the urban attitudes towards rural complexities.
Through “connections”, Paan Singh is able to get a high officer visit his village and arbitrate a land dispute. Unlike Paan Singh, the “Officer” is smart. He goes “thus far and no further”. The way he slicks away identifies with the Metrosexual Man.
Did Paan Singh have choices? What were his options?
Here, the movie points to an acceptable social behaviour. A scene shows Paan Singh proud of his bandit relatives never caught by the police. The “Paan Singhs” of this world reside in that context. Moral of the story – Be careful of old-age traditional pride. It entraps.
There is one more significant scene which defines our attitude to sports. Paan Singh, a trained army-man, cannot fight a war because he is a sports person. If the facts are true, the sports is used to impart distorted values. So Paan Singh exits an institution with set beliefs which does not survive his native environment. This takes us back to the first paragraph!
Stories are made up of bad judgements. Visit any corporate canteen. The most gossip are on big screw-ups. The movie, Paan Singh Tomar is also one such case. To us, metrosexual, Paan Singh’s life was “riches to rags” story. But to Paan Singh, it was “business as usual”. And the director achieves to show this.