It’s quite a task to make a biopic which is entertaining and authentic at the same time. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is perhaps an attempt by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra to bridge these two factors.
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra woke an entire generation from slumber through Rang De Basanti but with this one he has failed in making contact with the audience. The movie fails in grappling the audience’s attention in to a strong emotional hold. It is an account of Milkha Singh’s life without that vital emotional grip to make the audience feel his struggle and loss. Don’t get me wrong here, it is an inspiring story for every Indian and every athlete but the screenplay is definitely not effective enough to match up.
The journey of Milkha Singh from a teenager to a recruit and finally to a recognized international athlete has been well documented, so are the other chapters of his life. Rakeysh Mehra who once represented India as a swimmer in Asian Games, 1982 could have made more impact as a director of this film had he not opted for this commercial layout. There are quite a few scenes which seem to be more of folklore than reality, for instance the one in which Milkha consumes copious amounts of ghee. The training sequences could have been more intense and engaging minus all the extra slow motion and split screens.
A sports related biopic requires fast and intense background score but the background score here is average barring the ‘Zinda’ guitar riff. The songs make this 3 hour long affair seem like a dragged race, if only the makers could have done away with most of them except for Bhaag Milkha and Zinda. Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy were the epitome of fresh music at one point of time but it seems like they need to re-invent themselves in order to compete with the new talented lot of music directors.
Farhan Akhtar has lived the character of Milkha Singh on the screen. His dedication towards this film and his hard work to mould himself is evident in his performance. Be it the running track or the ‘pind’ Farhan manages to convince the audience with his thorough portrayal of Milkha Singh. Watch out for the scene after the Olympics qualifier race, Farhan manages to project incredible amount of intensity on the screen.
Jabtej Singh as young Milkha is impressive. Sonam Kapoor as Biro and Meesha Shafi as Perizaad do not get much screen time but their screen presence is fresh and pleasing. Prakash Raj in his brief role is entertaining. Divya Dutta is a specialist when it comes to portrayal of a crucial supporting character and she has done justice to her role. Pawan Malhotra who plays the role of Milkha’s coach Gurudev Singh is superb. His earnest performance deserves a round of applause.
To sum it up, despite the length, Milkha Singh’s lesser known story and Farhan Akhtar’s performance make this film worth a watch.