Towards the end of the trailer there is a shot where Auro looks up, says Paa and then lets a shy ha-ha escape his mouth. Thats it. It was in those 3 seconds that Balki sold me the film. I fell for it and booked the first available tickets.
Balki got the childhood part bang-on. Auro is endearing because he is just what you'd expect a 12 year old to be. Progeria, the medical condition that Auro suffers from is just incidental and as explained by Balki himself, was used as an excuse for the role-reversal of father and son.
So Auro is a happy and much loved kid, surrounded by people whose treatment of him is not coloured by his condition. And this allows him to be a regular, confused, little-spoilt, witty, popular at school, awkward kid about to step into his teens. What fun afterall, is a kid who can't throw a good tantrum!
The kids at school are potrayed as uniformly accomodating and loving of Auro. Yes, all of us are aware that kids in school can be really cruel. But it is quite charming of the film to retain this innocence.
There are unnecessary subplots like Abhishek's rant against the media that just doesn't work. And I found the movie a little slow. But what lingers in one's mind after stepping out of the theatre is the good stuff.
1) Amitabh as Auro.
There is just nobody else like him and I doubt there will ever be. His persona and acting prowess aside, the man inspires awe just for having retained the hunger and drive fit for a 20 year old, after all these years. He has such magnificient roles written for him, especially in his second innings - Mohabbatien (if for nothing, atleast for being his big comeback), Sarkar, Nishabd, Cheeni Kum, Black and now Paa. Each time he essays a superb role, I am entertained yes, but I also feel very happy for him. The guy must be having the time of his life. To have somebody say that of you, and after a career spanning decades and seeing dizzying heights of stardom - is so rich and wonderful. What a Man!
2) Vidya as Auro's mom and Arundathi Naag as Vidya' mom.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Vidya tells her mother about her pregnancy. I also liked the little details like how Vidya always sits in the same little corner in her veranda whenever she is troubled. And she looks absolutely stunning in the movie.
3) Auro's best friend Vishnu.
His frustrations about his father, studies and everything else. The kid is totally adorable. Vishnu's character gives some of the most funny moments in the movie.
4) The Gum Sum Gum tune in the movie - trademark Ilayaraaja.