Saturday, 13 July 2013

My Review - Bhaag Milkha Bhaag - Flying Long Distance

Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

Starring Farhan Akhtar, Sonam Kapoor, Pavan Malhotra, Divya Dutta, Art Malik, Dalip Tahil

Two names, Dara Singh and Milkha Singh are part of my first memories of sports. My grand-mom (Dadi) and my Dad, both have told me amazing anecdotes about these sportsmen. My Nana (mom's dad) was from Lyallpur, the place where Milkha Singh was born.

So yes, I was waiting to watch Bhaag Milkha Bhaag from the day it was announced. 

For those who have heard the name but are not familiar with the life story of the most decorated athlete of India, BMB shows the journey of an orphaned Milkha who fights the odds and goes on to win big as a running champion. The life of Milkha Singh is dramatic, inspiring and legendary. 

Now coming to the actual film. Mehra has picked stories with a personal connect in recent years. In RDB, it was his dream to become a pilot, Dilli 6 he went back to his own years lived in Old Delhi, and in BMB his own story of how he met Milkha Singh in a sports selection meet sowed the seed of making this film. 

In a real story full of twists and turns, Mehra has added bits of his own, thrown in romance and songs, which to me just took that edge away which could have made this film into a legend, a cult film like his very own Rang De Basanti. The length of the film is its short coming. When it becomes clear on the first watch where to put in and out points to edit out scenes, it is a problem. 

Having said that, Rakeysh Mehra has managed to pretty much infuse the spirit that is Milkha in the film. His direction is assured, has its own pace and delves deeper into characters than most films today have the patience to. You know Milkha well by the time you come out of the theater. It made a non-athletic person like me feel rejuvenated and full of hope, and that to me is the victory of BMB. 

The transformation of Farhan Akhtar into the Flying Sikh Milkha Singh itself is a reason enough to go watch this movie. I admire him for his dedication to the craft and doing such a convincing act, mind, body and soul, all in sync. Bringing alive Milkha on celluloid. You forget him and remember Milkha as you come out. And it has been a very grueling journey to get this body which is as close as you can get to the real thing. 

Another star of the film is Pavan Malhotra, crackling in every scene, spot on as Milkha's trainer. 

The film captures the partition and the pain it brought to millions beautifully. Here I need to mention the child actor playing the young Milkha and Divya Dutta playing his elder sister. Doing total justice to their roles. The ones which did not fit in were Dalip Tahil as Nehru and Yograj Singh as his Trainer in the championships. Yograj looks the part, but is obviously not a good actor. And of course, there is Mehra in a cameo himself, sweet, though jarring. 

The montage that is Sonam Kapoor in the film, not worth talking here, not her film, not a role to discuss even. But what it does, is to bring out the tenderness, a Milkha still looking for direction, and how he leaves his days of thuggery behind and enrolls in the Army. Rest as we know is history.

The music by Shankar Ehsaan Loy is average. Used mostly to underline, the lip synced Angrezan is easy on the ears. Binod Pradhan has done a good job, as usual. Some of the racing shots are lovely. 

There will be moments where you will find the races repetitive, but I was expecting that in film made on the life of an athlete. They also show his victories and losses, and I am not being literal. 

The end of the film, the biggest moment in his life does get a bit heavy on Indo-Pak rivalry, but let me remind you, it was soon after partition, people were still hurting and no, all was not hunky dory. I will not simplify by using the term "jingoistic".

I would definitely suggest go watch Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Yes it is very long at 3+ hours, but I came out without a butt ache. And doffing my hat to the real and reel Milkhas.

Rating 3/5

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