My Daddy Dearest

Batul Mukhtiar

I WOULD GO to see Paa again for Jaya Bachchan in the opening credits. Auro’s (Amitabh Bachchan) entry trying to hide the wet patch on his trousers while he takes a prize. Auro’s best friend Vipin, who has the cheekiest lines and delivers them with an impeccable sense of timing. Auro’s school. Old world values, inclusive of a differently abled child. The way all schools should be.

Auro’s relationship with his gynecologist mother, Vidya (Vidya Balan). It’s as full of love and distance as any adolescent-mother relationship. Vidya Balan’s eyes and cheekbones that create a working single mother, strong, capable, harried, lonely, a little bitter. Auro’s relationship with his grandmother ‘Bum’ (Arundhati Nag). Auro’s obsession with potty. Amitabh Bachchan’s dialogue delivery. Through his voice alone, he creates Auro, a 13- year-old boy suffering from progeria, a disability that causes accelerated aging. Auro’s friendship with a young politician who turns out to be his father, Amol Arte (Abhishekh Bachchan). Abhishekh makes the friendship credible, his interest in a special child leading to a genuine friendship tinged with exasperation and annoyance, as all friendships are.


PC Sreeram’s cinematography. Quiet, yet a definitive visual pleasure. The beautiful buildings in Lucknow help. Amitabh Bachchan’s song in the end credits. That’s a performance in its own right.

The unsentimental, simple tone of the film. Auro’s disability or impending death is not milked for emotion. You come to like Auro not because you feel sorry for him but because he is a bright, cheeky kid, confused and unpredictable, naughty and not goody-goody.

The idealistic stand taken by director R Balki. It may seem naïve on occasion, yet the lack of cynicism and pessimism, the matter-of-fact approach to pre-marital sex and unwed motherhood reaffirm one’s faith in the goodness of life and people. The film does sag a little in its backstory about slum redevelopment, which seems to be there simply to prove that Amol is a hero. The end, too, is predictable and quite hammy compared to the rest of the film. But, these are minor quibbles.

One comes away with the feeling that any man, woman or child having any grudge against Amitabh Bachchan, personal, professional or ethical, will definitely forgive him all his transgressions after seeing his performance in this film.


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