Who said success came easy for those who managed to make it to the top of their professions, more so if what you are striving towards is the stuff legends are made of. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is a convincingly-told story of the legendary athlete, Milkha Singh, played by the very talented, multi-faceted, Farhan Akhtar. Spanning over approximately 13 years, the film narrates the story of the man who witnessed much brutality during the Partition and ran only to save his life and thereon faced many hurdles before following the path his life took him onto. An Army personnel and a true sportsperson, his talent was recognized by his seniors in the Army Training Centre he was posted at, which eventually helped him hone his skill enough to win at the various races he ran at competing with athletes of an International fame and consequently breaking records.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is not just a simply made biopic on Milkha Singh’s life, it is a story about the boy who fled his home-ground to come to an alien land and grow up there learning life’s nuances as they came to him slowly yet surely. Farhan Akhtar proves to be a marvel who you will be in awe of once you’re done watching the film and while you think in retrospect about the narrative you just watched unfold on screen. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra proves his prowess once again with this film, it is a similar feeling you get like the one that must have come upon you when you watched Rang De Basanti – the difference perhaps, was only that the latter was a film that catered to the youth through the storyline, the execution, the dialogues; on the contrary, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is a story about one man who is known to have flown to glory, yes, ran to glory would be a small word. The film is overwhelmingly nice, not the kind that would need you to have a box of tissues handy, instead the kind that would motivate you enough to atleast take up some sort of sport in order to create a work-life balance. The director’s vision is something you see throughout the film, the flashback sequences and the present-day sequences are blended in so well that the back and forth would confuse you the least. So much love, so much determination that must’ve gone into getting this 187-minute long film together. The only hitch however, was the unnecessary places where the actors suddenly break into a song, despite them being superbly-crafted, foot-tapping numbers created by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.
All actors look their part, the role they play seems tailor-made for them all, especially Farhan Akhtar’s. More power to the actor, director, producer, singer and so much more. When you see him play a naïve boy turned seasoned star athlete, it would be difficult to fathom that in just about 6 months, this father of two daughters turns 40 years-old. Such is the charisma he exudes playing a real-life character. I especially salute to thee Mr. Akhtar. That said, Sonam Kapoor should really be signed up for films where she needs to do something other than be the hoity-toity makeup-laden girl. In this film, she as a simple village belle looks unbelievable in the approximately 7-minute screen space she shares with Farhan Akhtar. At the same time, British actor, Art Malik was fantastic in his role as Milkha’s father, as much as Jabtej Singh who plays the young Milkha. Divya Dutta, who plays Milkha’s sister has done a decent job, only the melodrama was overdone a bit much. Prakash Raj has also stepped out of his ‘comfort zone’ as the villain in most films of his, since he plays a hard taskmaster as an Armyman in the film training the contingent that Milkha Singh is a part of. However, the second most impressive was Pawan Malhotra as Milkha’s mentor and coach before the latter participated in the Olympics and did the Nation proud.
What one mustn’t forget is how life is a packaged deal of hits and misses, successes and failures. One major loss in the legend’s case however cost him much of his reputation after the Rome Olympics in 1960. The winners chosen as a result of a photo finish. The portrayal of this life event in the film gave me goosebumps. The sound of the horse’s hooves probably haunted the man for a long time. Of course, he went ahead to be christened as The Flying Sikh when he won the 400m race in Pakistan the same year. The pain and angst showed on the on screen Milkha Singh’s face, the real emotion perhaps was the same or a lot more than what came through to the audience. While many would agree that the film is too long to tease their senses long enough, a gentle reminder, that this is a biopic on a legendary athlete’s life, all it requires a bit of attention for all the diligence put into the making of the film.
To read how Milkha Singh flew to glory, click here.