Harish Jharia

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06 August 2013

Film Review: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

People wonder why ‘Bhag Milkha Bhag’ film has won the hearts of Bollywood filmgoers? If yes, read this film review wherein an analytic study of this film has been presented.

                     Milkha Singh

Rating: 90% 
- Harish Jharia

‘Bhag milkha bhag’ is a film based on the life and athletic career of the most famous Indian Olympian Milkha Singh, popularly known as ‘The Flying Sikh’. It is relevant to mention here that the title ‘The Flying Sikh’ was awarded by the then president of Pakistan Gen Ayub Khan when Milkha singh beat the Pakistani runner Abdul Khaliq on the Pakistan soil in 1960. 

He married Nirmal Kaur, an Indian Volleyball team captain in 1966. He has three daughters and a son Jeev Milkha Singh the professional international Golfer. Milkha Singh won the following big medals in addition to the dozens of other medals to his iconic sports career:
  • Commonwealth Games: Gold in 1958, Cardiff UK - 440 yards - Gold
  • Asian Games: Gold in 1958 Tokyo, Japan - 200 m
  • Asian Games: Gold in 1958 Tokyo, Japan - 400 m  
  • Asian Games: Gold in  1962 Jakarta, Indonesia - 400 m
  • Asian Games: Gold in 1962 Jakarta, Indonesia - 4 x 400 m relay 

                 Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh

Film Storyline:

Milkha Singh (Farhan Akhtar) was born in 1935 at Govindpura village, 10 km from Muzaffargarh city of Punjab Province in British India, now in Pakistan. In 1947, at the age of 11 he was left all alone when his sister (Divya Dutta) along with her arrogant husband migrated to India and her parents and rest of the family were killed during partition of British India. His father (Art Malik) was killed in front of his eyes and the last words uttered by his father were… “Bhag Milkha bhag”… “Run Milkha run” that have been adapted as the title of the film by Producer / Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.

Young boy Milkha Singh’s (Jabtej Singh) childhood has been portrayed beautifully in the film showing the peace and harmony prevailing in British India before partition. The film then shows the utter contrast in subsequent shots of human massacre and soil converting into red mud, mixed with human blood flowing in the streets.  

On receiving the call “Bhag Milkha bhag”… from his dying father (Art Malik), Milkha Singh ran away from there and joined the Hindu crowd departing for India. His dreadful journey along with the frightened Hindu crowd from Pakistan to India has been effectively picturized by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. 

When the migrating Hindu crowd reached Delhi they were attended to by the Indian Army. An orphan Milkha (Jabtej Singh) found himself lost in the berserk crowd at an absolutely new place. He was all alone and starving for a couple of days. He somehow managed to grab a food packet and started gulping it, when he heard the shrieks of his sister (Divya Dutta). He forgot his hunger and ran towards her, leaving behind his food. 

Milkha’s new life started at a new place Delhi and he found himself in the form of a vagabond, managing his bread out of burglary. He grew up into a young Milkha Singh (Farhan Akhtar) and fell in love with a young girl Biro (Sonam Kapoor), who hated his fugitive lifestyle. Milkha Singh, feeling embarrassed with Biro’s complaints, finally decided to find a better job and eventually, his fate took him to a recruitment center of Indian Army.  He was recruited as a soldier in the Indian Army and posted at EME Center Secunderabad

Milkha Singh (Farhan Akhtar) was a born runner and he discovered this inherent talent when he was asked by the seniors to run a 10 mile race for selecting athletes. The EME Centre declared that all the top 10 athletes selected in that race would be entitled for getting mugful of milk and two eggs daily. Milkha Singh put-up all his strength for winning that race for the daily diet of milk and eggs and was eventually selected as one of the athletes for the EME Centre.

After this selection, Milkha Singh did not look back and started winning one race after the other. He ran in Armed Forces athletics, national sports and international sports competitions and toured from one place to the other across the globe. His participation in the Melbourne 1956 Olympics has been portrayed in this film when he fell in an affair with the granddaughter (Rebecca Breeds) of his Australian technical coach. 

As a result of this affaire Milkha Singh (Farhan Akhtar) lost his race on the following day. The defeat in the race was the worst nightmare of his life and he repented for his blunders by slapping himself dozens of times, across his face. This scene of self-beating has been picturized quite intensely by the director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. 

On the same night in Melbourne, Milkha Singh (Farhan Akhtar) goes to his coach and asks “What is the world record for 400m race”, who in turn writes ‘45.90’ seconds on a tissue paper and gives it to him.  

Milkha Singh attaches that world record figure ‘45.90’ at his place of worship and starts a new way of life with one single aim of life ie breaking the 400m world record of ‘45.90’ that eventually he broke by clocking 45.80 in France. 

Star Cast
  1. Farhan Akhtar - Milkha Singh
  2. Sonam Kapoor - Nirmal Kaur
  3. Rebecca Breeds - Stella
  4. Dalip Tahil - Jawahar Lal Nehru
  5. Prakash Raj - Milkha Singh's coach
  6. Pawan Malhotra - Milkha Singh's Senior
  7. Divya Dutta - Milkha Singh's Sister
  8. Nawab Shah - Coach Javed
  9. Meesha Shafi - Perizaad
  10. Dev Gill - Abdul Khaliq
  11. Shanta Kumar - Gen. Ayub Khan
  12. Art Malik - Milkha Singh's Father
  13. K K Raina - Mr. Wadhwa
  14. Jabtej Singh - Young Milkha
  15. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra 
  16. Loy Mendonsa 
Whenever we speak about the movie ‘Sholay’, we think about Ramesh Sippy and Amjad Khan. Similarly, after watching ‘Bhag Milkha Bhag’ I kept thinking about Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Farhan Akhtar. The direction is excellent and Milkha Singh played by Farhan is unbelievably outstanding. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has not left any stone unturned in portraying the dramatic life of Milkha Singh. Farhan Akhtar has converted himself into the avatar of Milkha singh so much accurately so that it is hard to distinguish between Milkha Singh and Farhan Akhtar. 

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