As the sentence of some guy at PFC goes, we started watching the film as critics, but Paanch turned us into mere audience very soon. I think the sentence describes Paanch quite well. I must say, had I seen Paanch before all Anurag’s movies, I would not need a Black Friday and a Dev.D to be his fan.
Paanch starts with prologue that says Evil is perhaps a child and that the film is a warning to the society in which urban ambitions and estrangement are always on the rise.
The film is based on some friends in need who don’t turn out to to be friends indeed at the end. It’s based on the character of Luke, who sings Sar jhuka Khuda hoon main and acts the same. And it’s based on ambitions. Ambitions that kill.
I loved the film for various reasons, but on top come the wonderful characters of the movie and more than that, KayKay Menon. KayKay is the life of Paanch and the movie, however good, rests on his acting. Another good thing about Paanch is its perfect characters. The character sketches are superb and you see how people with such normal characteristics do such big things in certain situations. KayKay might be mad (though it’s not very difficult to find such characters either, save a few things) but Joy (Joy Fernandes) and Murgi (Aditya Srivastava) are people you see almost everywhere. So is Pondy (Vijay Maurya). And though Shivli is out of bounds for many, she is a good example of a girl with intelligence and ambitions beyond means. The good thing about these characters is that they are what they are. While Luke says Sorry as if spitting it out, Murgi is a cool thinker from start till end.
Paanch starts low, with nothing happening in the first half hour other than some gaanja-charas stories and some light headed songs. Then comes Khuda Hoon Main where movie starts rising and reaches its first peak when KayKay goes out of control with a bus conductor. Then the movie becomes stable and the story goes on as everyone is busy thinking of a good future, and then, suddenly something goes out of plan and the spark catches fire as the friends find themselves caught in a swamp of crime. From then on, the story goes fine till end where things become a bit cliched near the end. But the effect of the movie remains.
Paanch has got some wonderful music by Vishal Bharadwaj. Abbas Tyrewala’s lyrics are good. Paka mat is interesting and Khuda hoon main is a world in itself. Even Alvida sounds normal in comparison to Khuda hoon main. You might have heard the song before, but in the movie all songs find themselves better as they fit there well.
The cinematography of Natraja Subramaniam is a bit too normal in places and wonderful in some. I have no idea why the movie seems bit amateur on cinematography, maybe it is made so or maybe just because it was a pirated version I saw.
Overall, Paanch is certainly good. Count it as director’s debut and it’s great. Watch the movie for Kaykay Menon who is at his best here. Luke Morrison is a character worth a watch. By the way, Paanch shares some of its cast with Gulaal, and some of its characteristics too. So if you liked Gulaal, do watch the movie, my guess is you will like it too.