I watched the movie on Friday and I have had a couple of days to think over it while I was out of town. And I just don’t see what the hullabaloo about Paa is !!

Paa (like Taare Zameen Par) has been almost universally acclaimed by critics and all actors, especially Amitabh Bachhan, have been praised to the skies. There is talk of even making it India’s official entry to Oscars !! Yet, if you read those reviews, none of the reviews rate the movie at more than 3.5 stars. Whereas Taare Zameen Par was rated by most people at 4 or above. (Please note that Paa is nowhere similar to Taare Zameen Par, but it was the only movie I could think of which got such universal accolades.)

I think people have gotten a little too hyper at Amitabh Bachhan’s portrayal of a 12 year old. Make no mistake, it’s a great effort and not once through the movie do you get the feeling that there is Amitabh inside Auro. The voice is nasal-cartoony (the closest is drunk Anthony Gonzalves of Amar Akbar Anthony) and make up is top-notch ! But I think this was more an exercise in adulation – because I didn’t quite get convinced that Auro was an actual kid. There were far too many inconsistencies in the portrayal – both physically as well as in dialogues – to believe that it was a genuine 12-year-old.

The story is not much of a secret, but if you don’t know yet – Auro is a 12-year-old boy suffering from an extremely rare genetic defect called Progeria, which causes accelerated ageing of the body. So he resembles an old man in his seventies while he is still a child inside. Such children usually do not live too long. He is happy in school where his classmates are very supportive – and lives with his gynaecologist mum Vidya Balan and granny, who he calls Bum !

His sheltered life goes topsy turvy when he wins a creativity award and is noticed by upcoming idealist politician Amol Apte. Soon they become friends but they are unaware of their actual relation – that of Paa and son. The secret is revealed in a flashback, but how Auro and Amol come to know about it and what happens next is the movie.

The side-plots of slum redevelopment politics and the political fighting between Amol and his rival are actually interesting – they provide a break from the emotional drama and are also relevant to our times. The news bashing ofcourse, was a little overdone, but then again, our news channels haven’t been exactly blemish free. Abhishek Bachhan suits the intense young politician role totally – and seems to have modelled his appearance on Milind Deora, the south Mumbai MP.

The movie starts off with everyday scenes of Auro's life, his limitations of food and physical activity and bowel failures. Vidya Balan is very good as Auro’s mother – and she has more meaningful scenes with Auro than Abhishek - and Arundhati Naag is superb as the grandma used to the antics of her naughty grandson. Amitabh, as I have explained – puts in a great effort, but in vain. He didn’t convince me that there is a child inside Auro – even with his monkey dance and other antics. And without that, there is no movie.

It would have been a better movie if an actual kid had played Auro rather than Amitabh. Because the rest of the casting is pitch perfect. The climax is a little tacky and needs to be improved though, but to be fair to the director, he doesn’t go for needless tear-jerker scenes otherwise.

Although I didn’t get impressed by the movie, its not an opinion shared widely. So I would recommend you watch the movie and decide if it works for you.

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