There is a scene in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag where a Pakistani coach tells Milkha Singh (Farhan Akhtar) that the race he was about to leap into could be the last race of his life to which Milkha replies gently by saying that he would run the race considering it to be his last. This scene sums up Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s attitude towards making this film. He makes Bhaag Milkha Bhaag in a way as though he would never make a film ever again. He puts in his heart and soul along with that of everyone else involved in the project. The result is a blitzerking adventure which is bound to strike a chord with one and all. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag stands towering over everything that you have seen so far this year.

The film starts off with Milkha losing out on a medal in the Rome Olympics and hisbhaag-milkha-bhaag-stills-31 subsequent refusal to travel to Pakistan to take part in a bond-building friendly Athletics meet. A high ranking government official along with his two coaches Yograj Singh and Pawan Malhotra are shipped off to convince Milkha to change his mind. On the way to Chandigarh one of his coaches relates the heart touching story of the champion athlete’s rise from the ashes of post-partition India to a globe-trotting winner. In his story lies Milkha’s reason for not going to Pakistan.

407957-milkha-singh-sonam-farhan-launch-bhaag-milkha-bhaag-promoUnwrapping the tale in his trademark time splitting structure, Mehra doesn’t leave a single stone unturned from the athlete’s life. Surviving a bitter partition bloodbath in which he loses almost his whole family, Milkha travels all the way to Delhi, where reunited once again with his sister Isri Kaur played by the immensely likeable Divya Dutt, he starts rediscovering himself. A hoodlum, Milkha grows into a young man real quick but a chance meeting with Nirmal Kaur (Sonam Kapoor) gives his life a new meaning. She persuades him to find a better life and in search of it he joins the army. The rest as they say is history.

Mehra takes vital elements from Milkha’s life and effectively stitches them togetherDownloads2 into a seamless story which is bound to keep you hooked for the duration of its runtime. This is a mammoth undertaking as the film spans roughly 3 hours and 30 minutes but apart from the unwanted song and dance routines (I counted 3), the screenplay never loses its grip. Mehra puts out an honest and earnest picture of the star athlete emphasizing more on his life qualities like his never say die attitude and his immense strength to fight back. The movie dwells not only on the accolades and the staggering success that Milkha won but also on the sacrifices and the back breaking effort that he had to put in to achieve the same.

bhaag-milkha5Complete with use of sepia tones to differentiate between Milkha’s childhood and his adulthood, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is a beautifully shot film. Look out for the washed out faded screens right at the beginning giving you a feel of the film being made out of stack reels. However, that effect is quickly negated as we move away from the tracks into the train. Being a film about the life of an athlete, a lot of attention had to be paid to the races and the way they were shot. The Director of Photography has done a commendable job to make the sequences as real as cinematically possible. Some of the races like the one in which Milkha takes on a compatriot at the national level and then his first encounter with the Pakistani Abdul Sadiq are bound to make your heart pump harder and the blood coarse faster through your veins.

Farhan Akhtar, whose career seem to be following a reverse curve propagating milkha-4-june-24from being a director to an actor, slips into the shoes of Milkha Singh effortlessly. He is so believable and life like that the audience in some of the pictures shown of the original Flying Sikh and Farhan will find it a tad bit hard to differentiate between the two. This is in itself is a big complement. He does look the part and his rendering of the different shades of Milkha’s life adds an additional dimension to the film. I cannot think of anyone else playing the character other than him. He is ably supported by Pawan Malhotra who roars in a role tailor-made for him. The interactions between the two are easily one of the high points of the film. Yograj Singh as Milkha’s India team coach gets too melodramatic in a few scenes but other than that holds his own. Sonam Kapoor is barely there and is present just to up the entertainment quotient and add some much needed oomph which interestingly is done more successfully by Rebecca Breeds who plays Milkha’s love interest in Australia. Divya Dutta as Milkha’s sister is astounding. She steals the show in the emotional sequences. Look out for the scene where she is re-united with her brother and also the scene where Milkha comes back home in Indian colors.

sonamjuly12Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s pulsating music is yet another huge plus for the film. The tracks “Zinda” and “Bhaag Milkha” are easily the best picks. The background score is consistent throughout and is bound to make a strong impression on the audience. The sequences are elevated because of the astounding background score. The editing is top notch with nothing left to complain. The visual effects in some scenes though leave a lot to be desired. The scene which I really think could have been done better was the one where young Milkha comes back home to find his whole family murdered. I could easily spot the mannequins which made an ugly picture.

Standing tall and giving testimony of an epic life spent and wars won, Bhaag bmb-6-may-23Milkha Bhaag works on different levels. Apart from being a sports film, it will work as a potent human drama for all those who are willing to look at it with the eyes of more than the masses who are seeking only entertainment. In Milkha’s refusal to travel to Pakistan and his subsequent change of decision lies the true essence of the film and his life as a whole. If I read it right, the flying Sikh was all about conquering his demons and the worst of them all was his horrific past which kept haunting him. As the film culminates with Milkha receiving his title of the “Flying Sikh”, we, the audiences know that our hero has finally conquered his last demon even though a life lay in his path to be spent but he has already won and found his destiny.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is special film and must be seen by one and all. Sans the three unnecessary songs that really gets on your nerves, it was a near flawless film. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has delivered another gem in the line of Rang De Basanti which will be difficult to overhaul. A scintillating watch in every sense of the term.


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