Review: Nuanced Screenplay, Performances Make ‘Panga’ a Winner
A still from <i>Panga</i>.
A still from Panga.(Photo Courtesy: Pinterest)

Review: Nuanced Screenplay, Performances Make ‘Panga’ a Winner

Panga is a film about a woman trying to live her dream. A dream she put in abeyance because life took an unexpected turn. It would be reductive to call Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s latest film just a sports drama. A kabaddi player trying to be back in the team is one thread that holds it together. However, unlike other such movies where everything is a lead up to that big athletic moment of adrenaline rush, Panga ‘s beauty lies in its soft, almost non-confrontational resistance against all odds to fulfill one’s desire.

Kangana Ranaut in a still from <i>Panga</i>.
Kangana Ranaut in a still from Panga.

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We meet Jaya as a mother balancing work and home. She has a job at the railways ticket counter, has a loving husband and a “smart beyond his age” seven-year-old son. “Saat saal do mahine hue hain mujhe kabaddi chhode hue” she tells her best friend and kabbadi coach Meenu, confiding in her how much she misses playing her favourite sport. Jaya has left behind her days of glory, and although she doesn’t want to trade her current life for anything else but still she misses playing kabaddi.

Ashwiny and Nikhil Mehrotra, who have written the story, and Nitesh Tiwari’s screenplay must be credited for the question that Panga poses - why must a woman have to choose between personal bliss and professional success ?

It’s interesting to see how there aren't any straight-up villains in Jaya’s life. She has a mother who let her be what she chooses to be, a husband who is supportive and loving . a kid, (Yagya Bhasin)who looks out for her in his cute little ways. Helpful neighbours, a loyal friend, even encouraging sports authorities. Except for a slightly rude boss and a kabbadi team captain who resents her, it’s doesn’t seem very difficult for Jaya to realise her dreams. And yet making a comeback to her favourite game that was a master of at one point of time seems like an uphill task. Almost impossible.

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Richa Chadha and Kangana Ranaut in a still from <i>Panga</i>.
Richa Chadha and Kangana Ranaut in a still from Panga.

The nuanced screenplay, along with some excellent performances, make Panga a winner. Kangana is terrific. She mines the everyday weariness on her face to great effect as usual. Richha Chadha, as the loyal friend, is superb as well. Neena Gupta lights up the screen every time she appears and the child is a delight to watch. The biggest revelation though is Jassie Gill. With his unintrusive screen presence and disarming smile he imbues his role a lot of warmth.

Panga isn’t limited to a tussle in a kabaddi match, though those sequences are brilliantly shot. It’s about not letting life get the better of you . Even at the end it isn’t a carefully curated victory lap that the film offers .

That would be a timid end to this grand story . It ends with a million possibilities, with a promise of a fulfilling journey and that’s the beauty of Panga. Why limit ourselves to one role when we can be so much more ?

Our rating: 4 quints out of 5

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