First and for all, apologies for the delay in publishing this review piece which should have aptly come a day before but then, better late than never. High on hopes and truck loads of expectations (I need not take the blame on myself since I knew what to expect from a Farhan Akhtar starer and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra directed film) I, for weeks eagerly waited for the film to hit the theaters. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag showcases the story of an underdog and his journey till he came to be known to the world as ‘The Flying Sikh’.
The story starts with Milkha Singh missing out on breaking his own record in the Rome Olympics in 1960 and the subsequent outburst of his Indian worshipers. In the quest of trying to convince Milkha to visit Pakistan again for a friendly game tournament between the two sibling countries, his coach Gurudev Singh (Pawan Malhotra) , Ranveer Singh(Yograj singh),milkha’s Indian coach and a government official leave together for Chandigarh and Milkha’s story unfolds through his friend-cum-coach Gurudev Singh’s narration and the simultaneous flashback(s). ‘Flashback’ is Mehra’s first mistake in BMB. One or two flashback’s is fine. But a flashback within a flashback, then coming out from the flashback to another flashback and then jumping into another makes the narrative fall to the ground with a loud thud. The story couldn't hold my attention and heart, in the very beginning, thanks to the needless flashbacks, making the whole experience of viewing tiresome.
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The movie is 187 minutes ‘short’( pun intended). Which makes it approximately 3 hrs long! ‘Long duration’ is Mehra’s second mistake in BMB. It's evident how leisurely the film is made. It's slow pace makes it a wee bit boring in between. While watching, I felt like I was made to travel through the numerous races the sprinter had run and it felt like forever and ever. I was desperately seeking for the ‘wow’ moment where I’d feel the adrenaline rush and jump from my seat or break down into tears except for the partition sequence where the young Milkha tries weaseling out of the misfortune that struck him: his family gets beheaded and his subsequent travel to India in search for his only surviving elder sister Isri Kaur played by the beautiful Divya Dutta.
She is incredible, yet again, as Milkha’s elder sister , blowing life and soul into her character with more of tears and less words. My second favorite character from the film apart from, of course, the central role. Pawan Malhotra, as ever, did a worth appreciating work. This is one actor, I feel, is the most underrated in today’s times. He keeps the story binding throughout.
'Unnecessarily complicating' the script is his third mistake. I felt lost in between trying hard to figure out what happened and when.
Sonam makes a special appearance as the shy Biro who is supposed to be the ideal coy Punjabi kudi, playful , innocent and beautiful. She has not much to do: just a couple of scenes and a song. Farhan ‘pataofys’ his ladylove by singing the evergreen ‘Nanha Munna Rahi Hun’, making the situation hilarious. Biro is one of the 3 women in Milkha’s life whom he falls for: second is Stella (Rebecca breeds) an Australian whom he meets on his first foreign visit for the Melbourne Olympics. And the third is his real life wife, Mrs. Nirmal Kaur, whom the film doesn't feature. Interestingly, the film ends at a juncture just before her entry into Milkha’s life, as pointed out by the scriptwriter, Prasoon Joshi himself in a certain interview.
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Few light moments here and there make up for the long duration. Like Milkha’s first ever travel experience on an aircraft. So hilarious! An interesting observation that a keen and well informed movie buff can spot is the director himself, coming in for half a minute as the pilot of the aircraft and the hilarious chaos that follows, throwing the audience in splits. Talking of observations, jumping into the frame is for the first time(most likely) is Loy Mendonsa, belonging to the music composer trio, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy who have also lend their music for the film, triggering the high spirited, fun, song ‘Slow Motion Angreza’.
Meesha Shafi, a Pakistani actress, plays Perizaad, a national level swimmer who has next to nil screen time, though does well in whatever little she was supposed to do. National award winning Tamil actor Prakash Raj can be seen in a delightful change as the Jawaan’s trainer who is feared by the most. He has his own unique antics making his character lovable. Art Mallick plays Milkha’s father. Though have heard a lot about this talented and international repute actor but found his casting misplaced entirely because of his British accent which was so evident during his dialogue deliveries.
The music and the background score for the film were composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, their first film collaboration with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. The soundtrack features seven tracks with lyrics penned by Prasoon Joshi and needless to say, Joshi does a kick-ass job when replacing words for emotions. The ‘Zinda’ track is sung by Shanker Mahadevan’s son Siddharth. Impressive, he is for a first timer.
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Okay, till now your all hopes from the film must have died down. But,here’s the best part. As they say, keep the best for the end. Master Jabtej Singh’s performance, who plays the younger Milkha, is worth giving a standing ovation. Superbly essayed by the young star. The partition riots sequence is heart wrenching. Enough to make you cry buckets.
Ladies and Gentlemen!!! Now please put your hands together and welcome with a thunderous applause, the soul and heart of the film: FARHAN AKHTAR. Man!!! This is one actor who defines the word ‘awesomeness’ in all its senses. He did not play the part. He lived it, breathed it, ate it, slept it, bathe it and most importantly felt it. His hard-work, his dedication and strong will power (these are the three attributes the real Milkha Singh gives out to the audiences in a note as the credits roll at the end) is for the universe to see and celebrate. Every bulging muscle, every living cell, every drop of sweat speaks loud of the immense hard-work the actor has put in to fit into character. And proving out to be a supporting stick to him is the cinematographer of the film, Binod Pradhan who make Milkha Singh’s running a visual treat. They both deserve a grand salute!
When Milkha runs the race against his Pakistani counter parts in the ending sequence, one feels like jumping in the seat and shouting,’ Bhaaaggggg Milkhaaaa Bhaaaggg’. Ironically, these where his father’s last words to him when he is told to run away from his village.Well as for the director, Mr. Mehra has done a commendable job. With a few mistakes and lesser blunders, this is not Mehra’s best work. His best work still remains Rang De Basanti.
Overall, an inspiring, fun film that will make you laugh, cry and motivate you to put your heart and soul into whatever you do. Farhan Akhtar delivers a phenomenal performance. Go watch it for him!
- Sonam Kapoor charged only 11 for the film.
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- International company ReelSports coordinated the sports action for the film and cast all the elite runners.
- Farhan Akhtar underwent 7 months long extensive preparations for his role in the film before the actual shooting started.
P.S. Any suggestions for future posts? Feel free to send in your suggestions and requests here or on my e-mail id: firstname.lastname@example.org . Hope to hear from you soon :)