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. 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. 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). The film won the Best Feature Film and Best Actor in the 60th National Film Awards 2012.
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.
Irrfan Khan as Paan Singh Tomar
Mahi Gill as Indira
Vipin Sharma as Major Masand
Imran Hasnee as Matadeen Singh Tomar
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Gopi
Zakir Hussain as Inspector Rathore
Jahangir Khan as Bhanwar Singh (Daddaa)
Sitaram Panchal as Ramcharan
Rajendra Gupta as H.S. Randhawa (Sports Coach)
Swapnil Kiran as Hanumant (Paan Singh’s Elder Son)
Brijendra Kala as Journalist
Rajiv Gupta as Corrupt Cop
Ravi Sah as Paan’s nephew Balram
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