- Movie Name:Panga
- Critics Rating: 3.5 / 5
- Release Date: Jan 24, 2020
- Director: Ashwini Iyer Tiwari
- Genre: Drama
In 'Bareilly Ki Barfi', Kriti Sanon's Bitti dances on the top of her house's terrace and struts her way to glory along the streets of the town, giving the audience a view of what a non-caricaturish representation of the quaint locales of a small town can do. Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, with 'Panga', takes her love for subtlety a little further, and gives us an almost real depiction of a mother, whose life is steeped in domesticity but somehow she manages to yearn for a second chance at rekindling her dream.
Kangana Ranaut's Jaya Nigam is no ordinary mother. She had once been the skipper of India Kabaddi team, and sacrificed her passion for her husband and her son who needed a little more care owing to his weak immunity. The premise is, since the beginning of the movie, set to lend a sympathetic and largely, a generic gaze to the travails of a woman who gives up her dreams to resign into a life of anonymity for people she loves. And that is precisely why the film hits several right notes, and makes it a little different from films of the similar genre, and more precisely, 2014's 'Mary Kom'.
In 'Panga', the husband is not a chauvinist, and the son is everything but a timid seven-year old. Jassie Gill's Prashant Srivastava is a guy every girl would like to marry. He has his moments of doubts, failures, and insecurities -- like a real husband, but overcomes all for the love of his wife. The movie is Gill's debut, and his heartwarming smile can easily be termed as a reflection of what cinegoers may feel at chancing upon him. He is a cutie!
Yagna Bhasin (the son) is a rare find. His Adi gets the best lines, and he does not fail to deliver them. Adi is a sassy kid, but does not think twice before opting for a white lie only to ensure his mother's celebratory mood is not spoiled. And Prashant volunteers to be his wife's proxy at home, for his son, and even in a WhatsApp group run by women. His love for his wife, and his son is palpable, and makes for an endearing watch. It is these little details where the beauty of 'Panga' lies, and Tiwari's craft scores.
Another part where 'Panga' 'raids' straight into your heart is the portrayal of Jaya. She is not bitter about losing out her fame to a life of predictability and domesticity; but every now and then, a simple mention of Kabaddi sets her wondering what she could have been doing, and what she is doing. She starts slow with her preparation of a comeback, but sets her foot deeper only when she realises that is her true calling. The "sportswoman spirit" shown by her at moments she is asked to not play is exemplary.
And Kangana Ranaut, by that measure, is a fine choice for the role. This, however, needed no assertion as she has never hit a bad note on the acting front, and 'Panga' only adds to her repertoire. Kangana brings to 'Panga' a vulnerability, a strength, and an emotion only she could have managed to.
During the course of the climax of the movie, when Kangana's Jaya does not get a chance to play in the group matches of the tournament, and her team captain looks down upon her, her eyes, and just the way she yells in frustration at her mother, reeks of what the actress is capable of. Kangana is the linchpin around which 'Panga' revolves, and perhaps, the star of the show.
Richa Chadha deserves a special mention here, who in her extended cameo, plays the perfect foil to Kangana. She is her former teammate, and a charming Kabaddi coach. Fiesty, bold and brimming with desi one-liners, Richa's Meenu is the conscience of Jaya and perhaps, the entire narrative.
Megha Burman (Nisha) stands out as the good-hearted, young teammate and roommate. And so does Neena Gupta, who in the limited screen time given to her, shines as Jaya's mother.
Ashwini gives another dimension to her detailing by giving Neena Gupta a curly mane -- maybe to match Kangana's hair. Aaah! Like it when logic is applied.
Ashwini had earlier explored the genre of motherhood and the toils that come with it in 'Nil Battey Sannata'. 'Panga' adds to her oeuvre, where she delves more into the selflessness of a woman, and how family support stands to change her life. The deplorable fate of sportspersons, who are not cricketers, lends the gravitas and the edge to the narrative.
A special mention should to go to Kabaddi coordinators and instructors, and Rushi Sharma, Manoshi Nath and Bhagyashree Rajurkar's costumes that particularly add to the small town milieu of Bhopal.
'Panga' does come with its flaws though. There's something amiss throughout the narrative. The length and pace of the second half can serve as a major distraction for viewers who get invested into a little-over-50-minute first half. Also, Jaya's fame in her pre-partum phase is not explored much; neither is the grief of giving up on her passion.
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's music is not brilliant, but adds to the narrative. The romantic track sure stands out.
'Panga', in its entirety, is an ode to women -- a movie made by a woman, with a woman at its centre, and largely, for women who have selflessly given up on their passion and career for the love of their family. They do not complain, but may be it's time -- to not complain, but to capture the motif and work towards a second chance. To take a well-deserved "panga" with life and societal norms. Watch 'Panga' for Ashwini Iyer Tiwari's brilliance, another superlative performance by Kangana Ranaut, Jassie Gill's endearing smile, Richa Chadha's spark, and just because you should.
And all you ladies out there, if life gives you a second chance, go take the 'panga'. YOU ARE WORTH IT.
IndiaTVNews.com verdict: 3.5 stars