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The child is father of the Man.

After watching two-and-half-hours of the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer ‘Paa’, William Wordsworth’s lines from ‘The Rainbow’ never felt more true.

Or correct.

Or contextual.

Or more Bachchan. (Not necessarily in that order though!)

Cause these, after all, were simple lines that had inspired many literary, cinematic and musical offerings over the years. And in one moment, the lines symbolised the perfect takeaway from director R Balakrishnan’s ‘Paa’, a tale that dealt with premature ageing disorder, progeria.

And a story that only Bachchan could have done and, beautifully did, justice to.

‘Paa’, in many ways, is an ode to modern India and the relationships that it nurtures. It deals with new-age love. It reiterates that parental love is probably the most unconditional, non-transactional relationship available in today’s complex emotional marketplace. It shows that love often is sacrificed at the altar of politics and domineering parents. And yet again, in simplistic terms, it shows that children often are best crises managers and interlocutors.

For the Big B, as he’s popularly called, donning the garb of a 12-year-old boy and engaging in a child-like act was no mean feat. A man who loves to experiment, Bachchan got into the act from the word action. His movement, body language, contortion of the face — all showed that this was tailor-made for him. And that the thespian had done his homework. And more.

He had stepped into the skin of the character of Auro. He had internalised the character of the different-looking young school-going boy who lives with his single mother and grandmother. And whose outlet for most emotional angst is his PlayStation. The form of the 67-year-old Bachchan was incidental, his inside contains the soul of a young boy trying to hold his ground in an extremely cruel and competitive world.

The entry of a young political leader, who happens to be his biological father, promising to be the agent of change in everyday life throws Auro’s sheltered and cocooned existence into a spate of action. And thus begins his process of self-discovery. There is joy, and horror. And none other than the four-time National Award winner could have done justice to this.

Bachchan carries the simple to the sublime level. In a career spanning over four decades, he has always done that. And the beauty of it lies in his effortlessness. From the wronged son to the angry young man to the jilted lover to the grand doyen of not-so-happy Indian families, Bachchan has played to the gallery, and beyond. And showed that he’s an actor for all seasons, and many reasons.

If ‘Agneepath’ made Vijay Dinanath Chauhan a part of modern Indian lexicon, ‘Paa’ has proved that Auro is Bachchan’s crown. For a non-trademark Bachchan film, minus the baritone, the gravitas and the sheer presence, ‘Paa’ has blurred all divisions.

Today when Bachchan is picked for the National Award – his third as best actor – he has raised the bar. A bar that no one other than him can touch.

And something to which even his son will say, “Thanks, Paa. But you’re the greatest.”


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