Why the f**k the movie had been called as 'Paa' while 'Maa' or even 'Auro' would have been a better title. R. Balki needs just one scene to establish the warm relationship between the son and the mother. AB Corp's latest production 'Paa (2009)' which predominantly has South Indian contribution - 'Adman' R. Balki, 'Lens guru' PC Sriram, 'Maestro' Illayaraja, Vidya Balan, Kannada theatre artiste Arundhathi Nag, Malayalam Child Star Baby Taruni, is warm and endearing, taking us through the world of innocence and the complications of a 13 year old. One of the (rare) recent worthy releases in the Bollywood, 'Paa' is compelling in more than one way.
No two ways about it - 'Paa' belongs to Amitabh Bachchan and Vidya Balan majorly. It is a delight to watch the restrained yet beautiful portrayal of mother and son in the Hindi screen that didn't cater to any of the conventional cliches like hugging and kissing to show the maternal love. After a while you really start forgetting that it is a 60+ year old Amitabh Bachchan playing a 13 year old kid and much younger Ms. Balan is his mother without even an iota of melodrama. Vidya Balan plays the role of an young mother to the hilt and after a while you really start believing that they are the mother and child. Like said earlier - it takes just one scene to establish the rapport between Vidya and Auro. To make Auro eat the diet food Vidya eats the same food relishing on it, Auro applies a spoonful of pickle on her plate and asks - why such unnecessary sacrifices?
'Paa' is refreshing in many of its unconventional characters - a fun loving granny called as 'Bum' (see the movie to find out why) played beautifully by Arundathi Nag (Does the name ring the bell??? She did that freaking out Mother superior in Minsara Kanavu / Sapnay), Malayalam's child star Baby Taruni (that 'G' for Health - Gold Winner Girl) who has a crush on Auro, Paresh Rawal as Amol Arte's father who gets frustrated and asks his son - "Are you a gay???" and not the least - a bunch of Auro's friends who accept him whole heartedly despite his illness.
R. Balki has an wacky sense of humour that reflects in his movies (Do you remember the dialogue in "Cheeni Kum" where Amitabh asks the salesman - Do you have any adult DVD which a kid can watch?"), similarly in 'Paa' where Auro's friend confesses his doubt whether he is the son of his own father and finds its proof in the third page of the album. Auro is so witty that he feels bad for Amol who loses a 'vote' because he had driven away a man urinating in the roadside. R. Balki cleverly weaves a screenplay that easily avoids the kind of melodrama this kinda subject (on a rare disease called Progeria) and almost all the Auro's dialogues put a smile on your face.
The downside is that first half is rarely engaging thanks to the major chunk dedicated to 'build' the Abhishek Bachchan's role and his tirade against the media, which takes you off from the main story and leaves you frustrated. Similarly the climax scene where the father and son unite is too much of unwarranted melodrama despite the fact that it moves you a lot.
Maestro mesmerises us with his scintillating background score and limited songs. The movie has less scope for music barring the "Mudi Mudi" song. I wish that he shouldn't have wasted the ethereal melody - Puttham Puthu Kaalai (Alaigal Oyvathillai) in Hindi because it is reduced to a short chorus of 1:30 minute. I think he gets supercharged when working with talents like R. Balki and PC Sriram who has a good sense of music and we could feel that difference.
PC Sriram makes you believe that Amitabh Bachchan is actually the Auro. He expresses his unconventional creativity in the picturisation of "Mudi Mudi Song", especially in the church sequence with the shadows of the chandliers forming kaleidoscope effect in the face of Ms. Balan. The surreal lightings he had used takes us to the world of Auro in no time and Vidya looked so pretty (her best after 'Parineeta') and dignified through his lens, ofcourse amply aided by Sabyasachi Charaborty's costumes.
'Paa' is definitely a fine attempt to bridge the commercial cinema and a creative cinema to create a different offbeat experience. Come what ever criticism may that the movie didn't portray the Progeria in a serious manner, at the end of the day 'Paa' manages to create an awareness about the disease without depressing you. And it is nice to see Amitabh Bachchan reinventing himself with 'Auro' (wish our Superstars take a lesson from him) and Vidya Balan redefining the onscreen mother without resorting to melodrama / cliches.