He started running for a glass of milk a day. Then he ran for wearing India blazer. And then ran for national pride – breaking records after records. Whenever he runs on the track, a stench of suspense fills the air, and brings everyone to the edge of their seats. The tight fisted spectators break out into jubilation when he wins, the same crowd crashes with a heartbreak if he loses. This is the story of guts, glory and gumption. This is the story of ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh that’s brought to screen by the ‘touch of genius’ Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra in his biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.
The protagonist suffers with a harrowing past. He is chased by grisly memories and sometimes they form the stumbling blocks on his path. The focus in his life is a boon by his lady love. The metamorphosis of a scamp into an athlete, who takes Indian sports to dizzy heights, leaves you asking for more. You root for the character essayed by Farhan Akthar and travel with him through the film’s long runtime.
The film is an intelligent on-screen adaptation of the story of a legend. Prasoon Joshi and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra have presented it with alluring imagination. At all times, the story stays close to its intention, portraying relevant facts without any deviation. The director reprised his Rang De Basanti style of story-telling that made the film more engrossing. He wove a non-linear narrative and embellished it with multiple intercuts.
The script has ably juggled with the melodrama to keep it moderate. The remarkably shot, sepia-tinted partition scenes were agonizing. Whenever Milkha plunges on something, these scenes bring him discomfort and their repercussions haunt him forever. Although some scenes are predictable, some pushes the horizon of celluloid brilliance and surfaced their charm girdled in simple yet compelling story-telling. The story’s recipe is filled with an eclectic selection of ingredients that oscillate between high and lows. Hence it’s more of an inter-personal combat than anything else.
Farhan Akhtar has got into the shape and skin of the character. Like a knight in his shining armor he went to win the battle of his life. He portrayed the character’s steadfast resolve and fragility with poise. He leaves a lasting impression that if it’s not him, no one else could have essayed this role. Whenever you read or think about Milkha Singh it will be Farhan’s on-screen imagery that comes to your mind. Such was the magnetic charm he exuded and undoubtedly this will be his best performance till date.
Sonam Kapoor has a little role but becomes the causative factor for Milkha’s transformation. Their romance forms the vibrant slice of the film. Divya Dutta gives an impeccable performance as Farhan’s older sister. A victim of fate and domestic violence, her love and sacrifice for Milkha is nonpareil. Pavan Malhotra sails effortlessly through the film with a top-notch work. Yograj Singh as Milkha’s coach plays a key role in the film. And it’s always good to see Prakash Raj making his Bollywood footprints.
The camera work by Binod Pradhan transports the audience to the bygone era. Every template reminds us of the country that was in those days. When the end credits roll, you will be surprised to see a mammoth camera team that worked on this film. The use of pastel shades and effective shifts from one tone to another made the film a visual stunner. The tempo of the film, underscored by a very buoyant music score by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy, rockets until the last scene.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag relies heavily on the screenplay and the able performances from its cast. This is Mehra’s homage to a living legend whose story is not so fluent with many. Every detail, every emotion and every moment has been captured with precision. The spirit of the film never gets fizzled in its 188 minute long runtime. The film will have you entranced with its pluck and puzzle and you tend to overlook few intermittent hitches. A strikingly crafted film that is raw and genuine.
My Rating: Expectation – 7/10; Reality – 9/10view less