Production: Fox Star Studios | Cast: Jassie Gill, Kangana Ranaut, Neena Gupta, Richa Chadda | Direction: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari | Screenplay: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Nikhil Mehrohtra | Music: Shankar Ehsaan Loy | Background score: Ankit Balhara, Sanchit Balhara | Cinematography: Jay Patel | Editing: Ballu Saluja



Review By : Behindwoods Review Board, Gurumurthy Release Date : Jan 24,2020
Movie Run Time : 2 hours 9 minutes Censor Rating : U

Panga is a sports drama written and directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and produced by Fox Star Studios. The film has Kangana Ranaut playing the lead role, while Richa Chadda, Jassie Gill, Neena Gupta, Yagna Bhasin and others play crucial supporting roles. The film has background score by Sanchit Balhara and Ankit Balhara, with cinematography by Jay Patel.

Panga's plot mainly revolves around the life of Jaya Nigam (Kangana Ranaut), a former captain of the Indian Women's Kabaddi team. Circumstances force her to take a break from the sport and she wants to make a comeback into the side after a seven-year sabbatical. How she manages to achieve this whilst balancing her family life form the plot.

One of the perils of making a sports film with a women empowerment angle is that there are a lot of predictable templates that the film might fall into. In a typical women empowerment film, the men around the female lead are usually shown to be villainous, and chauvinistic. In a sports film, you see a caricatured corrupt selector, an egoistic captain in the protagonist's team and so on. Panga cleverly moves away from most of these templates, and this works wonders.

For a change, all the men in Jaya's life are supportive of her choices. Although the film starts off by showing Jaya as the typical homemaker, as the film progresses the husband decides takes charge of the household chores. Her child ignites the spark to follow her dream again. The male coaches support her inclusion in their respective teams for valid reasons. The film also celebrates sisterhood in the form of Meenu, played by an energetic Richa Chadda, who constantly backs Jaya right from the start. Richa also provides some much needed comic relief at various places, to ease off the pressure.

Although the obstacles faced by Jaya don't look that serious, Kangana's really sells her character well, to elevate the film. A few months back, we had the Telugu film Jersey, which dealt with a cricketer returning to the field after 8 years, at the age of 36. Both films have a lot of gooseflesh moments. Both films are realistic in showing the struggles of the 'married' protagonist. But in Panga, the genders are reversed, and that by itself forms a major conflict in the story. Jaya not only has to get back to the level of fitness Kabaddi demands but should also make sure that her son who has low immunity, stays healthy.

The film becomes slightly predictable as it moves into the sports genre in the second half. It follows the ‘underdog becomes heroine' narrative, and no points for guessing who wins the match for India, just before full time. With the quality of writing being high in the rest of the film, the writers could have avoided dramatizing the climactic portions of the match. The writers should be lauded for not just challenging gender stereotypes, but also age-related stereotypes. Kangana's acting comes in handy again, as she shows a subtle difference while playing Kabaddi during the age of 25 and 32.

On the technical side, the film has songs by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy that blend seamlessly into the narrative (the lyrics are by Javed Akhtar). They don't alienate us, but rather enhances the emotions that reek off the screen. The background score and visuals aid the narrative well, with the latter standing out. The supporting characters like Richa Chadda, Jassie Gill, and Megha Burman fit in their well-sketched roles, but the child actor Yagya Bhasin is a revelation.

Despite the predictability in the sports portions, and the struggles of Jaya not being that serious, the emotion, the politics and the message of the film are at the right place. Panga succeeds in opening up conversations about one of the most hushed up topics in India, in an engaging and entertaining way. What else should a film do?

Verdict: Panga is a well-written film with a beautiful message, shouldered by brilliant performances.
( 3.25 / 5.0 )


Panga (aka) Pangaa

Panga (aka) Pangaa is a Hindi movie with production by Fox Star Studios, direction by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, cinematography by Jay Patel, editing by Ballu Saluja. The cast of Panga (aka) Pangaa includes Jassie Gill, Kangana Ranaut, Neena Gupta, Richa Chadda..