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Run! Run! Run! And never look back!!!!

He did look back and regret. The tragedy during the partition stayed in memory for decades. He was orphaned and lost almost his whole family in teenage.

He was born in 1935 in Govindpura village in Pakistan and had 15 siblings (8 lost before partition). After partition, he moved to Delhi living with his surviving and married elder sister.

Later on, he became dacoit but joined army in 4th attempt of recruitment. The army somehow introduced him to sports. Being a long-distance runner from village to school and vice versa, his running strength knew no bound and famed his running ability to National heights.

This sporting icon accomplished a lot in athletics. As athlete, he was a veteran of 3 Summer Olympics of 1958, 1962 and 1966. He was national champion in 200m and 400m race. Had won 4 Gold medals in Asian Games career. Last but not the least, the most impressive of all achievements is that till date, he is still the only Indian male athlete to win an individual athletics gold medal at a Commonwealth Games.

The legendary sportsman is Milkha Singh a.k.a. the ‘Flying Sikh’. Recently, Milkha and his daughter, Sonia Sanwalka, co-wrote his autobiography, titled The Race of My Life. But it was in the beginning of 2012, when Milkha’s son Jeev presented a script to ‘Rang de Basanti’ famed director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. To a fortune, Rakeysh had known his father’s name back in his childhood days and was source of inspiration. As a result, Rakeysh planned a biographic sports drama movie on the flying sikh with the title ‘BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG’.

Produced by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Rakeysh Mehra’s own ROMP, distributed by Reliance Entertainment, this ₹  30-crore movie was released on 12th July, 2013 and grossed nearly ₹  35 crore in its 1st weekend. The movie reached grossing of ₹  100 crore in 24 days and became the 21st Bollywood movie to gross more than ₹  100 crore. Prasoon Joshi heartily accepted to write the script and spent a lot of time with the flying sikh to shape a perfect story to direct. Milkha is reported to give every single detail of his life story to Prasoon and Rakeysh. Milkha got many offers in his lifetime worth crore of Indian rupees but sold movie rights to Rakeysh worth ONE-RUPEE. 

Rakeysh, in my view, has a strange, bizarre and confused picking for a major role in his movies. In Rang de Basanti, Rakeysh picked Manoj Bajpai for Daljeet’s role which never ever fitted on him, later Mr.Perfectionist Aamir Khan signed and rest was history. In ‘Delhi-6’, central role of New Yorker boy Roshan was supposed to be played by Hrithik Roshan which could somehow have been a little convincing but turned to Abhishek Bachchan, who (forget being in NYC) looked to be pretending a desi wannabe in whole movie. Mehra’s production ‘Teen Thay Bhai’…………………………… ahhh leave it. Then comes this awaiting movie, in which Rakeysh was, to more than a bizarre, gifting this role to Bollywood’s favorite khiladi Akshay Kumar. Later on, an angel of death whispered in Rakeysh’s ear and role fell to Javed Akhtar’s all-round super-talented son Farhan Akhtar.

Farhan has a habit of impressing his viewers and moviegoers anyhow since 2001. First as Director, then as singer (I know he is not that good, but is surely a good singer of his own voice) and now as an actor. He did impressed in his sister Zoya’s movie ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ but if you want to test a man to his acting skills from all criteria what a successful actor always have or must have in his CV, then you should watch him in ‘BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG’. You will realize, how impressive his acting has become.

It has been reported in various sources that to make himself perfectly fit in Milkha’s role, Farhan spent 18 months in body-toning. He ran in marathon race in 3-4 cities which also played major part in movie promotion.

The movie is remarkably flexible and convenient for all sports lovers and sportsmen to engrave yourself in a running torso. Farhan almost successfully imitates Milkha’s style of running. You need to carefully watch his leg and hand movements and match it to Milkha’s original races of Rome Olympics anywhere (perhaps Youtube). It is never easy to play a hardcore role in such intensifying biographic movie but huge round of applause to Farhan who is not a veteran of acting career to mold in a role.

When you flow with the rythm the movie goes after the first hour, you might go so deep to make your presence in Milkha’s place and understand his spirit. The moment he lose the first race to Sher Singh Rana, you certainly will feel if you lost with the agony you fell like he fell.

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Rakeysh has brilliantly directed the interchanging scenes of present Milkha and his flashback. The depiction of his childhood, village and his family was brilliant but I was confound at first impression when I found versatile Divya Dutta playing role of his didi (whom I thought maa) and role of babuji went to veteran British-Pakistani television artist, Art Malik, who looked more like an octogenarian dadaji. But the fact in Divya’s role is that you can see a mother of Milkha in his didi’s eyes. Swallowing the pains of partition and patience from the beatings of her husband, it was Divya’s beauty of role which blended a specific role in Milkha’s life playing didi’s role and acting like a mother.

Transformation of Milkha’s childhood from Govindpura to Delhi, re-uniting with his surviving married sister, becoming a dacoit and soon to be a romantic vagabond was superlative. Full marks to the boy Japtej who played young Milkha and passed his acting when it came to the utmost depression and mental fatigue of partition era. He was selected in around 3000 boys in the audition.

Bollywood movie can never be without love and romance but Milkha’s life in movie was shown colorful. First entered the screen is Biro played by fashionista Sonam Kapoor who was eye-stopper in simple shalwar-qamiz, then enters Stella played by Australian TV drama ‘Blue Water High’ famed Rebecca Breed and last one was a very brief cameo of swimmer Perizaad played by another debutant, Pakistani model-turn-singer-turn-actress Meesha Shafi.

The best on-screen was unarguably Milkha-Biro one. A highly old-school romance and a tale of love affair garnished with unprecedented romance. Glimpse of love encountering with the help of a cycle and water bucket as ‘miss call’ and later on with the help of cropping a rubber ball half for sending ‘sms’. You will miss this brief love epic till the end. Seems like Sonam, since Ranjhanaa’s commercial success is taking her roles carefully. She did her homework on fitting for role of Biro which was all watched in her catwalks, smiles, voice and dialogue deliveries. In short, her body-language was excellent despite a brief role.

When you see a mother in Milkha’s sister, you will convincingly find a father-role in Milkha’s coach Gurudev Singh played by amazing actor Pavan Malhotra as well as Indian coach Ranveer Singh played by cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s father Yograj Singh. Both coaching characters were like angels to Milkha who were basically the founders of Milkha’s hidden legacy in his strength and accomplishments, specially the former one. The physical training will ease you to copy your physical exercising scheme.

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Milkha Singh (left) and Farhan Akhtar (right)

The musical team of movie is so far the best one. The picturing of every song is blessing to the flow of movie. Songs are motivational, army-opathic, kangaroo-folk and romantic but all of them are self-esteeming and colossal. Musical genius A.R.Rahman was expected to compose like Rakeysh’s last two movies but director picked Shankar-Ehsan-Loy. The selection was never regretting. To the contrary, much appreciating as musical sensibilities speak the toning volume of movie scenes. Specially the agonized race of Milkha where Daler Mahendi’s ‘Gurbani’ was played is heart-boiling. For me, the best compositions were ‘Mera Yaar’ and ‘O Rangrez’.

From start till end, the movie will garnish a platform of solidarity for inspiration, motivation, self-belief and spirit of sportsmanship. The movie is a blend of two humans in one: a boy who lost his family and suffered extreme hardships of life; and a man whose will-power and power of determination made him ever-respecting in decades to follow. 

This is Farhan’s best performance of his career and will be remembered in years. Almost all characters are given a respected time in movie and all artists have done wonderful job. After Farhan, Pavan and Divya as coach and sister respectively are supporting winners for me. Rakeysh presented another Delhi-matic excellency, recognizing the legend’s success and framing it in shape of commercial Hindi-movie to a height. Milkha’s name, fame and honor will double by the movie itself. Highly recommended to all moviegoers to watch this bio-epic.

Rating: 8.6/10

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