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The Flying Sikh---and you thought "Friends Not Masters" was Ayub Khan's best line?

  • Aneela Zeb

    Aneela Zeb (219 DM Points)

    Rated 
    3.5
    Desimartini | Updated - June 08, 2014 9:54 PM IST
    3.8DM (11726 ratings)

    Verdict - Watch, to get closure.

    Bhaag Milkha BhaagWatch trailerRelease date : July 12, 2013

    When we were kids they told us stories about princes who looked back on hearing voices and turned into stone. Later we realised it was about the power of not allowing the past to cripple us. Keeping in mind our horrible histories it could have been the best a certain generation could come up with if they had to make sense of their future. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is about a man who is haunted by the ghosts of his past, and how he will finally find closure. A twelve year old boy flees from a riot stricken Southern Punjab and makes his way into a refugee camp in Delhi. Reunited with his sister who will become the only constant factor in his journey he will rise to become one of India's finest athletes. Along the way he will join a coal stealing gang, carry the girl next door's buckets when young men who would one day run with him were carrying their sweetheart's books home, encounter a psycho Pakistani coach whose pep talks with his ward bordered on homoerotic, and meet Field Marshal Ayub "Friends Not Masters" Khan who we now discover Milkha Singh's moniker Flying Sikh. Now if he had spent more time polishing his gift with words than conducting coups, Pakistan would have been a far differnt story.

    The reason Bhaag Milkha Bhaag works is because of the sheer canvas of the protagonist's life and sadly that is what holds it back too. The trouble with memories is that they are subjective, the narrator may not always be generous in accomodating you as you go along, you may ask "why are we stopping here? why dont you tell me more about...". Perhaps, in the end it may all come together for the audience. But for a while you are exhausted as the raconteur adds just one more log in the fire. And as ever you have to suspend belief and trust Milkha for these are his memories, whether it is humming patriotic songs to woo his beloved and not something from Aah that is playing in the neighbourhood, or the sea of prayer caps that he encounters across the Wagah. For you know this is 1960, when Meesha Shafi's (who plays the enigmatic "Im just a girl standing in front of a boy in the swimming pool asking him to love her" Perizaad) grandfather may have been walking to a meeting of the Progressive Writer's Association in Lahore, her grand-aunts would have been teasing their hair into Queen Farah style bouffants. Mall Road and Falletti's "teddy boys" will be turning in their graves knowing that they have gone down in cinematic history as little flag waving madrassah boys. Far better that we admire Mehra for his little flourishes-- we had for one not seen a particular cinematic device for age progression that was a staple for Bachchan movies for a while. Mehra's use of the colour red through the movie. whether in Singh's bandages unfurling in the wind, in a sweetheart's scarf, the bloodied salwar of a younger Singh . Mehra does South West Punjab well, which in the days of Punjab de puttar and balle balle is such a relief.

    You will wonder whether Singh ever ran for the sheer pleasure of it? There is a brief moment in the beginning when a young Milkha just glides over sand running home from school, and you see the look of sheer abandon on his face, his feet seemingly never touching ground. But after that brief glimpse we see him running to save his life, away from authority figures, to win love, and settle scores. And then one day that little boy will be running with him. I would watch the movie again just to see that boy return. And that with Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi joining the project "filmon ki tarah hamari zindagi mein bhi end tak sab theek ho hee jaata hai". For that I am ever so grateful.

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