CAST & CREW
Biopics have been in existence for quite some time in Hindi movies, but have been much less in case of living legends like Milkha Singh, the great Olympian. It is satisfying to note that “ Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” the Olympian himself has validated the movie and speaks highly for the efforts and sincerity that has gone into the creation of the movie, making it a landmark film at least in the current generation of cinema.
Plot: The story of the film crafted by the immensely talented Prasoon Joshi is told in a rapid flashback starting from the 1960 Olympics in Rome and then meanders down to his early troubled childhood pockmarked with the ugly scars of the Partition of India. Farhan Akhtar in one of his best and most cultivated performances plays the title role. Orphaned Milkha reaches Delhi to meet his sister and then starts life in refugee camps, surviving through theft most of the times, for survival, a habit he leaves only when Biro ( Sonam Kapoor) with whom he had in the meanwhile fallen in love, admonishes him.
Joining the army brings a change in his life, but being good in athletics is an unmixed blessing for him as some of the seniors he had defeated leave him bruised the day before the selection for the Indian Olympic team. Through sheer grit he overcomes his pain and breaks the national record to get selected. But Milkha had his human failings also, like the time he messed it up in the Melbourne Olympics due to the fun and frolic that he indulged in with an Australian girl. Never to repeat such mistakes he gets determined to break the world record for 400 M, and after winning at several places ultimately breaks the then world record. The other episodes of his life that are highlighted include his leading the Indian team to Pakistan and the race to settle the fastest runner from Asia, with Abdul Khaliq (portrayed by Dev Gill) of Pakistan.
There are poignant scenes of his visit to his native village there and the remembrances of his parents’ death. Coincidentally his father’s last words were ‘Bhaag Milka Bhaag’, but of course uttered in a totally different context. He was equally well respected in Pakistan and it was none other than the then President of Pakistan, General Ayub Khan who gave him that title ‘The Flying Sikh’.
Besides the other qualities of the film that makes it exceptional, to date this must be the most demanding role of Farhan Akhtar’s nascent career and the hours of efforts he has put in to prepare himself makes it even more phenomenal. The completeness of the film, however, comes from combination of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s directorial skills along with Prasoon Joshi’s superb storyline and scripting. It brings out the real Milkha so profoundly and can only draw wows not only for Milkha the legend but also the film itself. Another old associate of Mehra, Binod Pradhan delivers with the camera what others have done in their own areas. In fact his camera work can rank globally as one of high calibre. As for the music, it must have been a tossup between A R Rahman and Shankar Ehsan Loy for a film like this. After having used AR for his previous films, the choice of SEL seems to have been validated beyond what Mehra may have thought of. The songs could not have been more appropriate or catchy for the film!
Verdict: From all aspects, this is a landmark film that someone can miss only at one’s own cost, and this holds true even for those who do not normally watch movies.
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