Paan Singh Tomar (film)

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Paan Singh Tomar
Paan Singh Tomar Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTigmanshu Dhulia
Produced byRonnie Screwvala
Written byTigmanshu Dhulia
Sanjay Chauhan[1]
StarringIrrfan Khan
Mahi Gill
Vipin Sharma
Music byAbhishek Ray
CinematographyAseem Mishra
Edited byAarti Bajaj
Distributed byUTV Motion Pictures
Release date
  • October 2012 (2012-10) (BFI London Film Festival)
  • 2 March 2012 (2012-03-02)
Running time
135 minutes
Budget70 million[2]
Box office201.80 million[2]

Paan Singh Tomar is a 2012 Indian Hindi-language biographical film about the eponymous athlete who was a soldier in the Indian Army and won a gold medal at the Indian National Games, but was forced to become a rebel against the system.[3] The film is directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and produced by UTV Motion Pictures. Irrfan Khan plays the title role, with Mahie Gill, Vipin Sharma and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the supporting cast.

Made on a shoestring budget of 45 million (US$630,000), Paan Singh Tomar premiered at the 2010 British Film Institute London Film Festival.[4] The film was released domestically on 2 March 2012 to critical acclaim and emerged as a superhit at the box-office, with a domestic net of 201.80 million (US$2.8 million).[2] The film won the Best Feature Film and Best Actor in the 60th National Film Awards 2012.[5]


A reporter interviews Paan Singh Tomar (Irrfan), a dacoit who is in the news for killing nine people of a community. Answering questions about himself, the story goes in a flashback from the year 1950. Paan Singh works in the Army while his wife and mother live in Morena. He surprises his seniors in the Army with his athletic skills. Though he was not interested in sports, he joins the sports division because there were no limits on their diet. Picked for the 5000 metres race's training, he was persuaded to run for the 3000 metre steeplechase by his coach. He participates in the Indian National Games and wins the gold medal in the steeplechase event 7 years in a row. In 1958, he participates in the Asian Games at Tokyo, but couldn't win because of his inability to adjust with the track spikes only given to him in the final event. He felt frustrated when he was not allowed to go the borders to fight in the 1962 and 1965 wars because sportsmen were not allowed to fight in them. In 1967, he participated in the International Military Games and wins the gold medal in the steeplechase.

One day his brother comes to visit him from his village and tells him about some of their property being usurped by Bhanwar Singh, a relative. Paan Singh decides to retire from the Army and leaves for his village to settle his family disputes, despite being offered a position as the coach in the army. Upon arriving home, he tries to resolve the issue with Bhanwar Singh. He even seeks help from the District Collector and local police station, but no help was forthcoming. His son is then beaten up badly by Bhanwar Singh and his goons. To keep him safe Paan Singh orders his son to join the army and asks him to stay away from the dispute. Eventually Bhanwar Singh and his goons try to kill Paan Singh and his family. Most of his family manages to escape but his mother is brutally murdered. Paan Singh decides to avenge his mother's death. He becomes a baaghi who wreaks havoc in the Chambal Valley. He forms a gang of people some of whom are his relatives and are in conflict with Bhanwar Singh.

Pann Singh then goes into the business of extorting and kidnapping wealthy businessmen of the area to accumulate money and an arsenal for his people so that they can become a proper gang. After making all the necessary arrangement of arms and ammunition for gang members, he arranges a major attack on Bhanwar Singh, who has a police protection. Bhanwar Singh gets killed by Paan Singh Tomar after a brief chase.

As a revenge for his brother's death, he kills nine villagers, who had become police informers and had informed the police about his hideout. This event causes a furor in the nation, administration and also among the other gangs of dacoits who urge with him to surrender so that the manhunt by the police would be called off but he refuses.

The interview with the reporter ends here and the interview is published in the newspaper and causes a sensation. The police continue their search for Paan Singh Tomar, who, as a result of which, decides to lie low for a while. He meets his family and his coach from the army who requests him to surrender. Paan Singh refuses to surrender on the principle that while he was a sportsman holding a national record, nobody stood with him when he was facing problems, and the moment he decided to stand up for himself, he was branded a rebel and everyone wants him arrested. When the gang reconvenes after a month's hiatus, one of the members, Gopi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who had turned a police informer betrays the gang by leading the police to their hideout. A shootout ensues where all members of the gang, including Paan Singh, are killed by Yashwant Singh Ghuraiya, a police officer.



Director Tigmanshu Dhulia first learned about Tomar while working on the set of Bandit Queen in Chambal. Intrigued that Tomar was largely forgotten despite holding several records, he resolved to make a film about his life. Dhulia researched the film's background for two years, interviewing Tomar's surviving family members and visiting his native village in Bhind.[6]

Dhulia wanted to make the film after fully researching on Tomar. But that would need a lot of money. So this caused Dhulia to work on it over 10 years.

The film was shot in ravines of Chambal, in Dholpur and in the actual barracks Tomar lived in at Roorkee. To prepare for his role, Irrfan Khan trained rigorously with steeplechase coaches, even breaking his ankle at one point during the filming. He called the experience "the most physically and mentally demanding film of my career".[7]

The film has also been shot in the uphills of one of the oldest army cantonments in India, Roorkee Cantonment. The Dramatics Team of the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee also helped in the several scenes shot in the cantonment.[8]


The music was composed by Abhishek Ray.[9]

Song No. Song Lyricist Singer Duration (In Minutes)
1 "Kero Mama" K. Mohan (Agnee), Meet Bros 2:29
2 "Dhai Dhai" Irrfan Khan, Mahie Gill 4:00
3 "Jaao Dhal Jaao" Irrfan Khan 3:21
4 "O Re Banwasi" Irrfan Khan, Mahie Gill 2:46
5 "Paan Singh Tomar" (Theme) Irrfan Khan 1:52


Critical reception[edit]

Paan Singh Tomar achieved universal critical acclaim among the critics.[10] According to review aggregator ReviewGang, professional critics have given the film a rating of 7.5 out of 10.[11] The core plot of the movie had resemblance with the 1972 Kannada movie Sipayi Ramu.[citation needed]

Professional reviews
Review Scores
Source Rating
Deccan Chronicle 4/5 stars
Daily Bhaskar 4/5 stars
NDTV 4/5 stars
Zee News 4/5 stars
The Statesman 4/5 stars
DNA India 4/5 stars
The Indian Express 4/5 stars
The Mumbai Mirror 3.5/5 stars
Bollywood Hungama 3.5/5 stars
The Times of India 4/5 stars
CNN-IBN 3.5/5 stars
Rediff 3.5/5 stars
Yahoo 4/5 stars
Tehelka 3/5 stars
dagger indicates that the given rating is an average rating of all reviews provided by the source

Rajeev Masand of IBN awarded the film 3.5 out of 5 stars, praising Khan's performance and said "Directed competently by Dhulia, who's familiar and comfortable even with the dusty terrain, Paan Singh Tomar is made with great attention to detail, and paints an honest, realistic picture of an India few of us can claim to know."[12]

Avijit Ghosh of The Times of India rated the film 4 out of 5 stars and said "Sportsmen and outlaws inhabit two different universes. One shines amidst the bright lights of glory, the other haunts the ravines of notoriety. But in director Tigmanshu Dhulia's biopic, Paan Singh Tomar, the two worlds collide. And the result is a rather exquisite blend of drama, humour and tragedy; altogether eminently enjoyable good cinema".[13]

Aseem Chhabra for gave the film 3.5 out of 5 stars and said "The tragedy of Paan Singh Tomar and Irrfan Khan's execution of the role are both compelling."[14]

Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama gave the film 3.5 out of 5 stars and said "Paan Singh Tomar shatters the standard rules of this genre. Besides, the film makes you cognizant that serious cinema can be uniformly delightful, like any other enthralling entertainer."[15]

Blessy Chettiar of DNA rated the film 4 out of 5 stars and said, "Gritty and power packed, Paan Singh Tomar is a tribute to the unsung heroes of sports in India. Dhulia's direction and Irrfan's integrity will make [it] among the best movies of recent times.".[16] Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and said "Paan Singh Tomar is a completely gripping, near-flawless film, with such few dodgy parts as to be negligible.".[17]

The New York Times praised the film and especially Khan's performance, saying "Without romanticizing Paan Singh Tomar, he shows his basic honesty and gives him real depth. As an actor Mr. Khan rarely does the expected. You can’t take your eyes off him.".[18] Mathures Paul of The Statesman gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and wrote "Paan Singh Tomar is a skillfully narrated tale of one man who rises against the odd."[19] Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap praised this movie and said "What a powerful film, powerful character, go watch the film. Turn it into what no-one believed it could be.".[20]

On 18 March 2013, Irrfan Khan received the Best Actor Award for 'Paan Singh Tomar' at the 60th Indian National Film Awards. The award citation reads, "A unique delineation of a transformation of an international sportsperson to a dacoit. A difficult role very convincingly played. A well-calibrated performance that was masked by remarkably subtle underplay."[21]

Box office collection[edit]

Paan Singh Tomar grossed 65.0 million (US$910,000) nett in week one.[22] The movie managed to gross 35.0 million (US$490,000) nett in week two.[23] The movie collected 30 million (US$420,000) in its third week and was declared a semi-hit by Box Office India.[24]

Awards and nominations[edit]


Award Category Recipient(s)
60th National Film Awards Best Feature Film Ronnie Screwvala
Tigmanshu Dhulia
Best Actor Irrfan Khan
Matri Shree Media Award Best Film Ronnie Screwvala
58th Filmfare Awards Critics Award for Best Actor Irrfan Khan
Best Screenplay Sanjay Chauhan and Tigmanshu Dhulia
Colors Screen Awards Best Film Ronnie Screwvala
Best Actor Irrfan Khan (alongside Ranbir Kapoor for Barfi!)
Best Screenplay Sanjay Chauhan, Tigmanshu Dhulia
Zee Cine Awards 2013 Best Dialogue
Times of India Film Awards Best Actor Irrfan Khan
CNN-IBN Indian of the Year Entertainment

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Reviews Paan Singh Tomar". DNA. 2 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "Paan Singh Tomar - Movie - Box Office India".
  3. ^ Abhishek Mande (6 December 2008). "Irrfan's at peace with work". IBN. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  4. ^ Businessofcinema.Com Team. "UTV's Paan Singh Tomar & Udaan to be showcased at BFI London Film Fest". Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  5. ^ "A press conference to announce 59th national film awards will be held" (Press release). Press Information Bureau (PIB), India. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  6. ^ Debesh Banerjee (6 July 2010). "On the Run". Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  7. ^ "Irrfan Khan puts films on hold for Paan Singh Tomar". 31 March 2009. Archived from the original on 3 April 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  8. ^ "Paan Singh Tomar (2012) Movie Review – Details". Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 December 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Paan Singh... gets thumbs up from critics". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Review Aggregation". Review Gang. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  12. ^ Masand, Rajeev. "Masand: 'Paan Singh Tomar' a well-intentioned film". IBNLive. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2012.3.5/5 stars
  13. ^ Ghosh, Avijit (2 March 2012). "Paan Singh Tomar". Times of India. Retrieved 2 March 2012.3.5/5 stars
  14. ^ Aseem Chhabra. "Review: Paan Singh Tomar is compelling". Retrieved 2 March 2012.3.5/5 stars
  15. ^ Adarsh, Taran. "Review By Taran Adaarsh". bollywood hungama. Retrieved 2 March 2012.3.5/5 stars
  16. ^ Chettiar, Blessy (2 March 2012). "Review Paan Singh Tomar". DNA. Retrieved 2 March 2012.4/5 stars
  17. ^ Gupta, Subhra (2 March 2012). "Paan Singh Tomar Review". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2 March 2012.3.5/5 stars
  18. ^ Stalz, Rachel. "A Rebel's Tale". New York Times. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  19. ^ Paul, Mathures. "One man against the system". The Statesman. Retrieved 3 March 2012.4/5 stars
  20. ^ Kashyap, Anurag. "Anurag Kashyap on Paan Singh Tomar". Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  21. ^ "List of Awards Announced in various categories for the 60th National Film Awards" (PDF).
  22. ^ "Paan Singh Tomar Week One Territorial Breakdown". Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  23. ^ "Paan Singh Tomar Week Two Territorial Breakdown". Archived from the original on 8 July 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  24. ^ "Paan Singh Tomar Semi-Hit". Archived from the original on 26 June 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2012.

External links[edit]