Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra is one of those rare filmmakers who refuse to take the easy route. He always takes up the most thorny subjects and effuses it with humanity and jingoism. After delivering the disappointing Delhi 6, he is back after 4.5 years with the life story of one of India’s greatest athletes – Milkha Singh. Biopics about long forgotten Indian sportspersons have become a trend recently after Paan Singh Tomar worked. Now biopics about Kasaba Jadhav, Dhyanchand and Mary Kom have been lined up just to name a few. Farhan Akhtar devoted almost two years to BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG. Let’s see then if his dedication was justified or not.
Story: As we all know by now, BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG is Milkha Singh’s (played by Farhan Akhtar) story. The film is a journey of the 10 year old Milkha from being a lively jolly Punjabi kid to being one of India’s greatest sporting icons. Milkha’s story is as tragic as it is hopeful. Having lost almost all of his family in the partition, he reached the zenith of Sports by his sheer dedication and motivation to make his country proud. There are many other incidents and relationships of Milkha Singh’s life which have found place in BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG. His tryst with an Australian girl, his relationship with his coach, his love affair with his village Belle Nirmal (Sonam Kapoor), his landing up in jail, his relationship with his sister Isri (Divya Datta).
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag Movie Review
Writing and Direction: Prasoon Joshi has written a larger-than-life script and Rakeysh has done full justice to the screenplay. It will be a oversight for anyone to classify BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG just as a Sports film, because it is much much more than that. It brings to light one of the most tragic moments of Indian history – the partition. It gives the viewer a sense of nationalism that only a story as inspiring as Milkha Singh’s can grant you. Not to forget, it is also a period film. Inspite of dealing with so many incidents and trajectories, none of the story points feel out of place. They all come together seamlessly to make for a rare movie watching experience. I had only one grouse with the screenplay – they could have shortened the length of the film to 150 minutes by not dwelling on a few chapters of his life for too long. Still, I wasn’t bored.
Miscellaneous: The technical aspects of BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG are top notch because the producers haven’t spared to spend money wherever required. The cinematography, the editing, the production design, the costume design and the music all come together to make Milkha Singh’s life grander than it probably was in real life. Cinematographer Binod Pradhan proves he is one of the world’s foremost cinematographers with his astute work in BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG.
Music and Background Score: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have delivered a very suitable soundtrack for the film. None of the songs are sore, and the melody is soothing. A few songs do stick with you. Zinda is already a big hit but even the non-Hit songs like Maston Ka Jhund and Slow Motion Angreza never feel out of place in the film. The title track probably could have had a lot more punch but again, like other aspects of the film, it works. Can you imagine Milkha Singh dancing arbitrarily? No. Do the songs and the dance sequences feel out of place in BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG? Again, no.
Acting: BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG is that rare Hindi film where the lead actor has given his all into a career-defining role. Farhan Akhtar takes method acting to the limit and then breaks the limit. He breathes life into Milkha Singh and after a point it becomes hard to imagine than Farhan Akhtar is just an actor playing the role of Milkha Singh whilst the original Milkha Singh is someone else. He is THAT good. Japtej Singh playing the young Milkha is sensational as he portrays the pathos of losing one’s family vividly. Sonam Kapoor doesn’t have much to do in BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG and she plays the subdued Nirmal rather well. Pawan Malhotra gives a great performance, as usual. Divya Datta is perfect as Isri and I see her getting more than a few supporting actress nominations for this performance. Prakash Raj finally doesn’t play a villain – and he does it just fine. Yograj Singh is a revelation as Milkha’s coach. Rebecca Breeds’ performance is genuine.
Conclusion: BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG works on the basis on Milkha Singh’s truly inspirational life story and the writer and director have done well not to mess it up. The viewer will go through a truly human experience of tragedy, romance, comedy, drama and even a bit of action! The film has it all. It should be seen by every Indian who is reeling from the scams, rapes and political disappointments. BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG will make even the cynics’ hearts brim with emotion, nationalism and inspiration.
Box Office Potential: The film will take an above average opening. Unlike last week’s Lootera which failed to make a mark because of its slow pace and highly evolved style of filmmaking, BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG will work because the story is universal and we Indians are highly emotional people. BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG panders to the deepest emotional core of our humanity.
- Inspirational Story which is universal in its appeal
- Farhan Akhtar’s career defining performance
- The writing never loses pace and doesn’t slack off
- The cinematography
- The production design
- The music and Background score
- The performance by tertiary actors
- The 190 minutes length may put off a few people
- Some incidents of Milkha’s life are a bit overstretched