What happens when art meets ego? The same thing that happened with Pankaj Kapur's MAUSAM
, and more recently, MATRU KI BIJLEE KA MANDOLA
, a Vishal Bharadwaj creation.
Viewed in fragments, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG
is brilliant. Viewed in totality, you feel sorry, because here was a super subject -- a subject which had the power to be an inspiring film for the youth of today. It also has a hero who had subjected his heart and spirit to the director.
Just for Farhan Akhtar
alone, this film deserves a resounding applause. Nay, a deafening applause.
So dear Farhan, take a bow. You have given method acting a new dimension and brought alive on screen an icon that deserves this big screen presence. Milkha Singh is no ordinary athlete. He rose to great heights from the depths of his misery, taking along with him, India on the global sporting stage. If he had half the facilities available now as he had then, he would have been called 'Superman Sikh', not the 'Flying Sikh', the sobriquet he earned for his victories on track and field. CHECK OUT: Milkha Singh in tears after watching BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG
With most of his family members wiped out in the riots in Pakistan, post partition, the movie charts Milkha's life from the age of 10 onwards. ''Bhaag, Milkha, Bhaag,'' were apparently the last words spoken by his late father as the attackers came calling. Milkha moved from Pakistan to India. He joined the Indian Army where his talent for running was spotted and honed.
From a care-free life in Pakistan, to the tough teen days in Delhi, to his rise in the Indian Army, Mehra chalks Milkha's trajectory.
Farhan makes you see Milkha on screen. He has subjected his body to a grueling regimen to get that athlete's frame. His running stride and body language will definitely make Milkha himself proud. Take Farhan out and this film is a surefire disaster. But what is even more interesting is that Farhan is closing in on the fan-following of the top three Khans. A paid preview on Thursday night saw over 30 per cent occupancy and that is good news for his Box Office status.
Director, writer, musician, actor, singer, and now a crowd-puller... He is in a nutshell, a creative genius!
What works for the movie apart from Farhan is the sports theme, the races, which give you that 'live' stadium feel, and the moments of brilliance in between.
What goes against the film is its length. It clocks 3 hours eight minutes. There are unwanted songs (two of them) that pull the narrative in the opposite direction. Apart from that, the picturisation of the song when Milkha comes to meet Sonam is confusing. Something you saw in the eighties when fillers were needed to mask a poor script.
The unnecessary (multiple) flashbacks, too, are a hindrance. Editing these off would give the film a run-time of 2 hours 30 minutes. It would also give the film the stride of a Milkha Singh. CHECK OUT: Farhan Akhtar's BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG features 46 real jawans
There is also the unnecessary romp in Australia with the granddaughter of the Australian coach helping out the Indian contingent. Milkha's defeat in the qualifiers in the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 was due to inexperience. And this song, dance and 'roll in the bed' with smooth 'experienced' smooching are loud and jarring. It did not suit Milkha's character. MAUSAM
stretched endlessly, while MATRU
... had a super first 10 minutes. Both bombed. With BMB, the story might just be different. There's the honesty of a Farhan Akhtar and an India-Pakistan tussle in the end, which might just tilt the scale in Mehra's favour.