Bhag Milkha Bhag Review
Ratings: 4.5 stars
An odd thing happened when I was watching BMB today. As the last scene flashed on the screen, and the credit titles rolled, the entire audience gave a standing ovation and clapped in unison.Now, when was the last time you experienced something like this after watching a Hindi movie?
Biopics are not common in Bollywood.And whatever biopics are made, are generally heavily peppered with artistic liberty, so that the Biopic merely becomes a fictional account merely " inspired" from the original story. Heroes are made into superheroes, and situations are so overtly dramatised that they become unbelievable and almost cliched. Negative aspects of the personality are either completely omitted or conveniently altered so as to create a unidimensional , flawless, god- like persona which is boring, predictable and completely unidentifiable.In this respect, BMB is a breath of fresh air: It's a genuine attempt to chronicle the life of a yesteryear sport hero of India with complete sincerity and honesty.
Non linear storytelling is used here with great results. We get a glimpse into various periods of the life of the sporting hero : Exhilarating and passionate at times, and poignant and tragic at others- a roller coaster ride of genuine emotions which tugs at your heart strings and brings a tear to your eye ever so often. Incidents from Milkha Singh's life are superbly potrayed : Whether it is the trauma of his family's genocide during the Partition riots, his unrequited love story ,or the story of his days as a trainee in the army-each scene is handled with remarkable sensitivity and maturity. The scene where Milkha breaks down whilst visiting the site of his childhood house after years is the the acme of the film, and the flashback piece where a young Milkha unknowingly stumbles over the massacred dead bodies of his family, borders on the macabre, and ends up giving you goosebumps-but drives home the ugly ferocity of the partition riots with disturbing clarity. The army life is well potrayed . The love story angle with Sonam is half baked, but it was in fact surprising to see the brief affair( more like a one- night- stand) of Milkha with the Australian Coaches' granddaughter . Such indiscretions are normally omitted in an Indian biopic so as to keep the hero "untainted". I am glad the director didn't take the easy way out here- follies make the character human, and we want to hear the stories of fallible humans conquer their demons and succeed rather than stories about God like heroes without a single blemish,which by the way are utterly unbelievable.
Story, Screenplay, Dialogue are all outstanding.( Prasoon Joshi, take a bow). Rakesh Omprakash Mehra outdoes himself and makes a worthy follow up to the brilliant Rang de Basanti. Farhan Akhtar does one up on Amir as far as sincerity and passion is concerned. I read somewhere that he trained so hard for the role that he nearly equalled Milkha Singh's record for 400 metres sprint, close to the nearest second. He looks an athlete, and runs like a one. I don't think Bollywood has known this degree of sincerity and dedication ever before. Songs are good, and background score is taut. Cinematography is top class. Supporting actors are brilliant too. Pawan Malhotra does a superbly essayed role of Milkha's mentor. He is a great actor, who has not really got his due.Prakash Raj as his superior has a short but sweet role. Divya Dutta as Milkha's elder sister gives a beautiful performance. The film, in short, succeeds in all departments, though it is a tad too long. It deserves to be India's shot at the Oscars this year,may be after an astute editing out of around half an hour.
India is a nation bereft of heroes. In a nation with filthy politicians and plummeting economy, it is not surprising that people turn to Sports for solace. And here too, except cricket, India does not know too many heroes. Milkha Singh is one such name. The movie celebrates this hero with a deserving fervour . Fervent passion, toil, self belief, overcoming huge obstacles- these are the stuff legends are made of- the movie portrays one such life. With all its heroism, pathos, exhilaration and yes- even follies. You leave the cinema hall with a smile on your lip, and a tear in your eye.
Now, again, when was the last time you experienced something like this after watching a Hindi movie?
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