A cut above the formulaic sports-movie themes, BUDHIA SINGH - BORN TO RUN hits all the right buttons. The inspirational, soul-stirring story of the Odisha's 5 year old wonder-boy Budhia Singh - the running sensation who took the world by storm is a brilliantly crafted, richly performed rare piece of Bollywood's sports drama that is enlivened by the perfect balance of emotion, insight and humour that rightly provides fodders for thought.
Soumendra Padhi's superb debut produced by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Code Red Films deserves all the attention it needs for its striking ability to 'run' beyond a sports drama.
Soumendra Padhi pens the year's national award winner for best children's film with no nonsense attitude that tells the story of the child sensation Bhudia Singh - world's youngest marathon runner who ran from Bhubaneswar to Puri at the age of four covering 65 kilometres (40 mi) in seven hours and two minutes.
Its circa 2006, a do gooder judo coach Biranchi Das (Manoj Bajpayee) rescues a hungry Budhia (Mayur Patole) from a bangle seller. The wonder kid was sold for a petty amount by his mother Sukanti (Tillotama Shome) who is struggling to find ends meet.
Taking Budhia under his care, one day Biranchi discovers the wonder kid's god given gift for running and starts training him. Biranchi fascination for Bhudia's running talent starts growing day by day and it turns into an obsessed dream of Biranchi to make Bhudia run the 2016 Olympics.
Feisty Biranchi starts ignoring his dutiful wife Gita (Shruti Marathe) in his undying spirit to make Bhudia run the marathon. Biranchi smartly uses his good rapport with the local political big shot and manages Bhudia's schooling and introduction to the world.
Soumendra Padhi smartly peeks into the dirty politics with the objections from the state child welfare department and without getting melodramatic, conveys the sorry state in two parallel debates. One on Biranchi dreams ruining Bhudia's childhood and a gifted talent like Bhudia becoming a political scape goat while the people find hope in seeing the running sensation run.
Writer director Soumendra Padhi brilliantly uses real-life footages of P.T. Usha, Narayan Murty to make it as 'real' it can get.
Without a single dull moment, Soumendra Padhi makes the viewer glued to the film with eyes open.
The director winningly establishes the moments and the atmosphere with penance, he remarkably makes sure that Bhudia and the kids at Biranchi 's centre are not stolen from their childhood and the camaraderie between them is amusing and pleasing.
Manoj Bajpayee as Biranchi Das is a winningly assured portrayal that gets richly enhanced by the talented actor's brilliance. Staying true to the directors vision of not becoming a villain of the boys childhood, Manoj Bajpayee 's Biranchi act is just incredible.
Mayur Patole is a small bundle of big talent, his chemistry with Bajpayee is fabulous.
Shruti Marathe as Manoj's wife and Tilotma as Bhudia's mother are quite natural.
Technicalities are fine. Ishaan Chhabra and Sidhant Mathur's music sets the tempo. Manoj Kumar Khatoi's cinematography is first rate. Shivkumar V. Panicker editing is crisp.
All said and done, BUDHIA SINGH - BORN TO RUN is definitely a story that needs to be told, in real the sensation is still staying in the State's sports hostel with the ban on his running still on. Soumendra Padhi's gem of a soul stirring motivator rises above the formulaic sports dramas that keep your eyes wide open in excitement, enrichment and ends with a tragedy that makes you 'run' high in support of India's running sensation who after 10 years in spite of a ban is waiting for a 'Biranchi' and still wants to run.