When i watched the first teaser of Rakeysh Mehra’s Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (BMB from here on) way back in November 2012 , it had me hooked. A bio pic on one of our greatest sporting icons seemed like a mouthwatering concept. So, i walked into the film expecting mehra to set the screen ablaze. And after an agonizing 3 hrs and 10 mins, i was left awed by one man-Farhan Akhtar. And this man’s total surrender to a character blew me away. It is by far THE BEST performance i have seen in recent times and that was the only redeeming factor in this regressive mess of a film.
Biopics as a genre haven’t really caught the fancy of our film makers yet, so films like Paan SIngh Tomar and BMB are an exception. But the spunk and grit which made Paan Singh Tomar a runaway success, that is missing here. And to make a film on an icon and then just scratch the surface is not doing true justice to his charismatic abilities.
And here in lies my problem with BMB. It is a film which is tedious and exploitative. It tries to abuse slow motion to the hilt to create that lump in your throat moments but beyond a point, the only pain you feel is your back which kinda hopes THE END pops up asap.
With top notch technicians at his disposal and one of the finest writers at his command, BMB was expected to be a milestone film. Add Farhan top the mix and you have a classic ready to serve. But there in, it goes horribly wrong and its so bloody wrong that if I were Milkha Singh, i would have felt shortchanged.
The reason for Milkha not going to Pakistan is so bloody obvious that it feels immaturely kiddish to watch a 3 hour long story unfold punctuated by that silly question time and again that why wouldn’t Milkha run in Pakistan? And talking about Milkha running, I believe every character was just given one brief- You need to scream Bhaag Milkha Bhaag at the top of your lungs at-least once during your screen-time.!!!!
The performances are all top notch. Farhan Akhtar’s bravura act is complimented by DIvya Dutta whose act reverberates extreme pathos that you carry her character home with you. And Sonam Kapoor in a 10 minute role takes your heart away. Her charm and screen presence is mesmerizing. And Pawan Malhotra and Prakash Raj are equally brilliant in their characters. It is Yuvraj’s father Yograj Singh who sticks out like a sore thumb. His character comes across as a caricature and the less said about him, the better.
The technicalities are A-grade with that magician Binod Pradhan lensing Bhaag Milkha Bhaag so commendably that you fall in love with the visuals. As i mentioned earlier, this is a film where slow mos have been abused to the hilt but that takes nothing away from Pradhan’s magic. Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s music is so foot tapping and terrific that not for a moment did i miss Rahman’s presence, who otherwise is a mehra regular.
So that brings me to the only two culprits who messed up this saga so horribly that it has taken Indian cinema back by 20 years. Prasoon Joshi and Rakeysh Mehra. With the script which lacks direction and with a director who has a wasted script, the film fails to rise above ordinary levels and with so much talent at your disposal, expecting a good film is not asking for much.
All said and done, this Milkha ends up running a little longer than what we would have savored!!!!!