Inspired by the life of legendary Indian athlete, Milkha Singh – also known as the Flying Sikh – Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is a gripping tale painted in vivid Bollywood colours. Produced and directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, of Rang de Basanti fame, the film is a classic that will go down memory lane. Although I’m no film critic or share a passionate expertise on films, I know this film will click with the Indian masses, for its sheer storytelling technique.
Well, at least it has compelled me to share my thoughts on it. They say a good film critic does not unveil the plot, yet manages to paint his views on the canvas of your mind. But, this film is being described as a biopic taken from Singh’s biographical journey ‘The race of my life” written with the help of his daughter. I haven’t read the book, nor did I read any reviews prior to watching the movie, but I was apprehensive about the duration – 3 hours. But, trust me, these would be the most defining 180 minutes of cinematic experience for you!
I can give you 10 reasons why you should invest 3 hours for this movie, but one is enough – Farhan Akhtar. The actor is so brilliant in enacting the Flying Singh, that the viewer is automatically transformed as an onlooker in each of the scenes, be it his early childhood, the painful partition or the many athletic events including the Olympics. It is said that Farhan went through a gruelling fitness regime – a workout in two shifts for 5 to 6 hours daily, for six days in a week and all this for 18 months!
This is a coming-of-age movie for Farhan as the actor has transformed from a good one to a brilliant one, leaving behind many mainstream actors and raising the bar in that genre. When he ran his races as Milkha, one could also parallel him racing against other popular actors, and winning the game in a smooth finish. It was high time a quality standard was set in the mainstream Hindi cinema space, else it would remain sadly ruled by some irrational and stupid crap that goes by the name of popular cinema.
Yes, I admire Farhan Akhtar and hence I’ll be biased towards him, but this film has earned him my lifelong respect.
There are heart-wrenching scenes by other actors that add on to the film. If you aren’t a fan of Farhan, watch it for Divya Dutta’s superlative portrayal as Milkha’s elder sister, who loves him more like a mother after they are orphaned cruelly during the partition. Watch it for Pawan Malhotra as Gurudev Singh, Milkha’s coach and a caring father figure enacted beautifully by the seasoned actor.
And, watch it for little Japtej Singh, the actor playing young Milkha who I’ve heard is new to the medium, much to my surprise. Japtej has picked up his scenes like a charm, and somehow reminded me of Ayesha Kapoor, the splendid child actor who played the blind and deaf young Rani Mukherji in Black.
Other aspects of film making are awesome, although highly dramatic. It is reported that the writer, Prasoon Joshi took 2 years to write the script. Superb cinematography coupled with an emotional storytelling approach, has worked its magic in the biopic. You will leave enriched with real inspiration and respect for the protagonist and everyone involved in the making of this movie.