Titled as ‘The Flying Sikh’ by the Government of Pakistan, Milkha Singh is indisputably a living legend in Indian sports. Period. Now, possibilities are that most of us might not know the real story behind why he could not bring us ‘the’ gold medal in Olympics or we might just have our minds crammed with numerous assumptions and ‘I have heard it somewhere’ theories about the incident but the fact remains unharmed that Milkha Singh was/is & will be the man of such stature that can only be accomplished in guidance of the best teacher one can have, called life.
With BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG- a 3 hour 8 min long biopic, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra tries to peep into the ‘never been opened’ chapters of his life but sadly decides to take a route, very obvious & convenient, in terms of Bollywood norms. Film starts with Milkha losing out medal in Rome Olympics and denying to participate in an Indo-Pak sports summit organized soon after. & then we take a trip back and forth in flashback and in present [the very impressive narrative style we had seen in Mehra’s ‘RANG DE BASANTI’ in not so appealing manner, the thrills and the charm is missing] to excavate the dark past of ’47 partition that still haunts him and is never ready to leave him alone, to deal with his own set of fears.
The story does have a promise and an undeniable need to be told to our new generation but Mehra’s melodramatic approach to recreate sequences and a forced effort to make each one of them entertaining, kills the much required intensity & sensitivity in the tale. Situations get cyclic at a point of time when you see races ending up in a same manner. And in the second half mostly, all of sudden Milkha starts looking as a regular Bollywood hero that could overcome any mountain-size hurdles but very conveniently and guess what? He even does a song & dance sequence with an Australian beauty, ending up in a lip-lock and a steamy love-making scene.
Technically speaking, film does not falter in its most aspects like cinematography [with the magical eyes of Binod Pradhan], soaring music-background score and a stellar performance by Farhan Akhtar [His all flesh & blood dedication, commitment and a complete devotion to his part is worth accolade and applause from left, right and center] but what makes it restricted to ‘just a good effort’ is the lack of honesty, delicacy and smartness in the direction…and of course, a strict chopping hands on editing table would have contributed more to make things look crisper and cleaner.
I wish if the drama has not taken over the emotions, it would have been much better. Even so, it’s a good watch! Thanks to Farhan! Watch out for his washroom scene where he slaps himself continuously to punish him. I have yet to see such sincere involvement in a performance as an actor. All in all, BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG rides high on entertainment but lacks at the emotional connect. Watch it for Milkha Singhji and you’ll be coming out of theaters, falling for Farhan! ***[3/5]