Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is a long daunting story of a true “life” of an Olympic world champion for whom life becomes a constant battle for survival. Milkha Singh, after being victimized by the Indo-Pak partition was wounded with scars which failed to heal with time.
The phenomenal director-producer Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra tries to give his audience a perfect flashback of the Flying Sikh, with the first half seeking to enlist the motivating factors for the protagonist- to run with a happy childhood in a proud family. Soon this life turns into a traumatic one of a refugee boy who wields a knife and becomes a coal thief. But the editing deficient flashback, takes a different turn with a captivating love affair with “Biro” (optimistically played by Sonam Kapoor) inspiring him to choose the right path in life. This leads him to join the army and eventually breaking an athletic world record at the 1960 Rome Olympics, giving him world prestige for the rest of his life. Instances of Milkha running, wounded and punishing himself after defeats are a constant reminder of the gutsy dream chaser aiming to get a national holiday named after him.
With moments of great inspiration, the film manages to pull its way through the second half with rigorous practice sessions on sets of Ladakh giving us a fine reminder of what made Milkha one of India’s most iconic athletes.
The film earns its title from Milkha’s father’s last words, “bhaag milkha bhaag” asking him to literally run for his life, making it the most patronizing memory of his life.
Eventually the well-intended biopic turns into a very detailed, exhausting 187-minute roll which lacks objectivity and turns into an overdose of melodrama. Soon you realize that the early years of the gangster mischief, the Australian affair, and meaningless songs are irrelevant and divert from the traditional pattern of a sporting biopic.
Farhan Akhtar pulls the snail-paced movie, with his convincing Punjabi accent, boorish physical presence, and tremendous commitment to his role as the Flying Sikh. Supporting roles of Milkha’s guides in his historic journey are portrayed convincingly by Pawan Malhotra and Yograj Singh.
As for the ratings, I will give the mouth-publicized flick 3 out of 5, as it is definitely a one-time watch for Farhan’s irreplaceable performance as an inspiring Milkha Singh- one that will go down in history.
In the run of daily life, take a stop to watch this mis-matched, much in need of editing film as you might end up taking a personal lesson back home.
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