Paa, 2009

Directed by: R. Balki

I thought I knew what I was getting myself into with this film. Auro, a boy with Progeria (Amitabh) and his father (Abhishek) bound around with happiness and laughter and we get a dil-warming film that makes us laugh and cry.

Uh, I was so wrong… but in a pleasantly surprising way.

Auro is the love child of two college kids, Vidya (Vidya Balan) and Amol (Abhishek) wannabe Doctor and Politician, respectively.  Vidya learns she’s pregnant and Amol asks her to have an abortion because “he has a career to pursue”, and she rightfully tells him that she does too. She returns home to India and keeps the baby all while studying and getting her doctorate. (Go Vidya!) Her son is born with a progressive and rare disease, Progeria, which makes the children age faster than others, so by the time Auro is 12 he looks like he’s around 70 or 80, and his body reflects that. He has heart problems, bone issues, but mentally he is fit and just as normal as another 12 year old boy. He loves his computer, video games and his best friends.
Auro first meets Amol when he hosts a competition at his school, which Auro wins. Vidya sees the award ceremony on the nighttime news and we are rushed into the “Do I tell him that’s his father or not?” story line that continues to get more and more pressing as Auro and Amol strike up a relationship and firendship.
On his 13th birthday Vidya tells Auro who his father is, so now Auro has the responsibility to determine if he wants to be a “hiccup” in his father’s very public life.
The movie comes to its climax when Auro suffers an attack and Amol and Vidya are brought together for the first time around their son’s hospital bed. The media storm is huge and suddenly everyone knows that Amol Arte, politician extrodinare has a son he never knew about, from an unwed woman. He asks her to marry her via TV (I would have said no) and she refuses until the two are brought together by Auro and he makes them do the “round and round and round” (wedding circles) around his hospital bed.  He unites them and whispers “Maa” and “Paa” right before he dies.
I was a sad-sack by the end of this film. Maybe it was because it was New Years Eve and I was sitting in a theatre alone (well, with two uncles at the verrrrry back) or maybe I was tired or maybe I was just really touched by the efforts of the Bachchans Squared.

I have never heard or seen Amitabh like that and it was a remarkable transformation. The makeup was a little strange, yes, but he genuinely looked as if he had progeria and everything about him was altered along with his prosthetics. His walk, his arms, his voice(!), the movements of his head were all so perfectly aligned with the character or Auro that you stopped seeing Amitabh and started seeing only Auro. It was a true testament to the depth and ability that Amitabh has as an actor that he was able to so completely disappear in this role.

Much like his father Abhishek gave a fantastic performance as well. He had sensitivity, care, compassion and love just oozing out of him in every scene (well, except for when he sticks it too the media…but…) so much that I just felt for him. His pain was my pain, his joy, mine…etc. It was just a treat to watch him.

Vidya Balan (whom I’ve only ever seen in Salaam-e-Ishq) also wowed me, but her character got on my nerves every once and a while. She was almost too concerned with not being the thing that ruined Amol’s life that it got in the way of her and her son’s happiness and in itself was a hiccup that she was so afraid to become.

Jaya Bachchan read the opening titles, sitting regally in a exquisite sari. She really has to be the most beautiful person in the world.

There were a lot of homey touches in the film, like Auro’s very teenage writing on his door and walls (i.e. “Knock, or I will “knock” your head off!) posters of bands, awkward tween crushes and preteen temper tantrums won over with a new XBox, I like those kind of additions to films; they make the experience more real and more familiar.

I feel like I’m Romanticizing this film, and I am, because there were some moments in the beginning and middle were I just wasn’t on board for the story line and I thought the flow was strange and there were a few stories that were just loose ends; but I was so touched by everything else, that all my complaints seemed to have vanished from my memory.

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