Directors: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Producer: Fox Star Studios
The husband and wife team of Nitesh Tiwari and Ashwiny IyerTiwari handle women’s stories and small town India just so well.
This time it’s Ashwiny at the helm as director with Nitesh helping out in the writing department along with Nikhil Mehrotra.
It’s a warm little family in Bhopal. Jaya Nigam works for the railways at the ticket counter, supportive husband Prashant takes even his wife’s nocturnal kicks like a sport. And schoolboy Adi has perky lines that make him sparkle and prevent him from coming off as precocious.
Ashwiny lets you savour the love before gently introducing the vacuum in Jaya’s life. Jaya Nigam, today’s non-entity who gets pulled up by the boss for coming in late, and by Adi for not coming to his school on sports day. The flashbacks come organically. Of Jaya Nigam the celebrity who once played for the railways and captained the women’s kabaddi team. Jaya Nigam, the woman Prashant fell in love with, promising that he’d never come in the way of her kabaddi. Jaya Nigam, the mother who chose kid over kabaddi. It was her choice.
With more than a bit of prodding from Prashant and little Adi who urges her to make a comeback to her sport, Ashwiny not only holds Jaya Nigam as a beacon for comeback moms, but mixes hope and heart with humour.
In this she’s aided by well-written characters and performers who make their contribution with much finesse.
Right on top is Kangana Ranaut who cracks it like a champion. There’s nothing glamorous about Jaya Nigam. Yet Kangana makes her such a joy to behold and to cheer.
In the fine, all-round casting, Punjab da puttar Jassi Gill makes husband Prashant endearingly human.
Yagna Bhasin is lovely as a child who wants his mommy but is wise enough not to let that nip her dream.
Small touches like curling her hair like Kangana’s, make Neena Gupta a natural mom for Jaya Nigam. And Richa Chaddha is hilarious as best friend Meenu who’s upfront and blunt.
The music which stays in the background plays its part effectively.
But I do have two grouses. One is the predictability of the outcome like the Tiger Chang shot in the final match with a Dangal kind of climax. The second is the pace that drops especially after the halfway mark though it picks up perceptibly once again. Ultimately, Ashwiny leaves you feeling fulfilled and fine by the time the end credits roll in Marvel style with happy scenes in between the credits.
Verdict: For a film that entertains and is socially a big leap forward, Panga gets a 3.5* rating.