I met you, Auro, as your spirit remained indomitable and you did your funny dance. My hands mimic you, springing out and turning over my head as though they are twisting it in place. In the dark I wept, I laughed, knew you.
I can imagine a sharp rebuke from you. Hell, at times I felt we were lost souls when you'd make your smart-ass comments. When you'd play arrogant. When you'd ask your own loved ones to lay off. When you'd chide your mother to stop sacrificing for you, yes, this moment resonated the most.
Were you really special? Yes. But not in the sense of the politically correct special kid with progeria, a disease where a child starts aging rapidly.
You were in a regular school, had friends, no one was apologetic and no one tried to make you believe you were grand. You were just you.
Not many people are.
'Paa' is the triumph of the characters. The 'bum' grandma, the mother who loves without smothering, the father who surfaces late but adores you even before he knows you are his son. He understood you - the pure white globe you constructed that had no boundaries, no nations, where earth and water did not demarcate regions. He saw your mind.
You are a figment of imagination and I don't care if someone says you have been 'inspired'. I don't know. I don't care. I was sitting with you as you confidently had khichdi in the restaurant of Taj Palace hotel or decided not to go to Rashtrapati Bhavan because you wanted to crap badly. You had your priorities right, dude.
The film can be seen as young impetuous love that does not descend into treacle and accepts departures with hurt but equanimity.
It is also about a mature relationship between mother and adult daughter.
It is also about careers, idealism, media exploitation as sub-plots, essential to flesh out the father Auro hates and yet admires.
It is also about realisation of limitations and working alongside them.
It is about not trying to give a message to society. No rubbish about how to treat those lesser than us well. For, you did not need the crutch.
I would have liked the school to be more Indian and the Vision India exhibition did not need to showcase Macdonalds or Barack Obama. But, then, maybe that's how kids see things these days. And even I do get the occasional Mac (only bun and patty, no salad, no dressing...just telling you because it's kinda funny and you'd understand).
Every line is apt, tangy, warm, wise without seeming to be so. Writer-director R Balki has created a seamless saga of an everyday life.You heard right. An everyday life because disabilities come in varied forms.
So, did I notice Amitabh Bachchan who enacted your role? No. That is his biggest victory. He is invisible. Auro's body language, his way of talking, his cackle, his petulance is what I am still with. Please tell Mr Bachchan that I thought he was brilliant in 'Eklavya'. He is nothing as Auro. Nothing is the emptying of the self to let others fill you. Not many can manage that.
Abhishek as your father has come up with his best after 'Refugee', 'Yuva' and 'Guru'. Vidya Balan, Arundhati Naag, Paresh Rawal and those who were your friends just flowed into this sea.
The showers were made all the more palpable with a liquid sinuous music score by Iliyaraja.
Auro, are you getting bored? Will you tell me that you'll knock my head off because I came without knocking at the door?
Just you try. Because, you know what? My head is even now swimming with images of you and you wouldn't want that to be a wobbly mess. I know.
*Hichki is literally hiccup; here the mother asks him not to become one - an interruption
PS: The film's hyped premiere almost put me off. But I listened to instinct.
These are random views from the 4.30 PM show of Friday, December 4.
The hall was more than half empty. But every heart must have resounded with many echoes.