By Neha Bora
Stories are a play around characters, great stories seek to expand beyond their characters and transcend time and space and evening meaning. While Panga isn’t a great story, it is definitely a good one!
Panga is the story of ‛Jaya Nigam’ who is the mother of a 7 year old son, the former captain of the Indian Kabaddi team, and best friends to a character who as the hands of a more skilled writer would been a character alive in its own merit!
Jaya has left her days of glory in the sports of Kabaddi behind and settled down to be a mother and wife. She works at the Central Railway ticket counter and missed her days of Kabaddi, her days, if we put it clearly, of not being a set of relations to the men in her life.
Her son, like the sons and daughter of today (Bollywood films tell us), is sharp tongued and wittier than most adult around him! Her husband, Prashant is decent and the couple is happy. Their chemistry however, seems to be of a different manner.
Jaya has a best friend ‛Meenu’, a link to her days on the Kabaddi court. Meenu is unmarried, blatant and a Kabaddi coach who moves to Bhopal and gives wings to Jaya’s forgotten dreams of playing Kabaddi.
Seven years after moving away from Kabaddi, Prashant decides to tell his son of the sacrifice that Jaya had made in moving away from her sport at the peak of her career to ensure the stability of her family. The son at once decides that he wishes to see his 32 year old mother make a come back in the sport.
Jaya and Prashant embark on the make-believe ‛come-back’ journey for Jaya to please their son. Soon, Jaya realises that she in fact wishes to not be just a mother and wife, she wishes to go back to her days of being a player. She embarks on this journey with help from her son, her husband and her best friend Meenu.
Jaya’s journey from here is exciting to watch. She goes one step forward, and gets pulled two steps backwards, only to be pushed one step forward by her family and friends.
She moves away from her city of Bhopal, to Kolkata to train with her new Eastern Railways team. She is joined by Nisha, who becomes her roommate and friend. She struggles with her form in her attempt to make it into the National Kabaddi team. Filmifiles.com is a website which offers news, views and even the inside stories from the glamour world be it Bollywood or Hollywood, for those who love the world of movies, stars and the art of cinema.
The media catches on to the endearing story of a 32 year old mother of seven making a come back into national sports. She brings the spotlight on women’s Kabaddi and that also becomes the reason for her selection into the team.
Jaya’s family is thrilled and her ‛probably’ single mother played by Neena Gupta (not made clear in the film) calls her up and asks her to remember her in her moment of glory. Maya’s journey forward is a well paced story of not ‛success’ but inspiration!
The film is extremely simple, the casting choices appropriate. Kangana Ranaut has always charmed in her portrayal of a sparkling small town girl with a fun story to tell, she does the same in ‛Panga’.
She is so fearlessly ordinary in the film, she is in fact perfectly the mother whose dreams of being big, have been set aside for the sake of her family. Prashant played by Jassie Gill, is at times extremely annoying in his portrayal of an adoring husband.
The Punjabi superstar in him breaks through the protrayal of the middle class sweet husband. Prashant too is however, sketchy in his details and reasons for being the character he is. Their son, Adi is Yagya Bhasin, and he sparkles as only sharp children do in film about devoted and encouraging parents.
Meenu is a delight to watch, and one realises that she is another story along the line of Panga, waiting to be told. Although Neena Gupta has little screen time, one wonders what her story is and why it hasn’t been explored more.
The only things keeping Panga from being absolutely brilliant is that it doesn’t understand that it can still talk about Jaya while talking about Jaya’s mother and her best friend, and her husband. It also has gaping holes where wordless gestures meant to convey meaning and plot come across as unnecessary and odd.
The direction is slick and well handled. The film has the right amount of lightness associated with small town stories and right amount of intrigue in a story about a woman defying societal expectation to achieve success in a sport like Kabaddi.
The director balances the highs and the lows with ease. The film is both quick and short and one might not realize that the film has ended in thehour and a half of its duration!
The music in the film is of little consequence to the film, existing in the film only because it is a Bollywood film.
FF Ratings: ***
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