A Quest on Overdrive … :)

An eccentric rambler on life's lessons and mercies, found and lost… :)

Bhag Milkha Bhag – The Raftaar of Dreams


 Alert: Long, sometimes rambling read ahead. Reader discretion advised; the course might meander, and your interest waver; however, steadfast I remain… the words won’t let me be 😀

As I have, before, let me place my lack of credentials in doing any sort of review, either of book or movie (please refer to the sidebar that has the disclaimer in place 😀 ). This here is one more example from those here (link); I am here simply to share my experience of it. You won’t find technicalities, and references and names ( I know, I know, Movie buff that I profess to be, I ought to do more of that!) – for me, movies are magic. They take me out of myself, let me get into the screen that plays out almost every imaginable fantasy and mood. And sometimes leaves me breathless for having been part of it all 🙂 I could wax eloquent on this, but I’m sure you’re not in the mood 😆

The title of the post came with a (non)-review I thought of for Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. I did not do it, because I had not watched the first ten minutes (late 😦 ), and would you believe (you’ll probably want to pelt me with bricks for this!) we missed THE song. Madhuri Dixit’s! *ducks to avoid the missiles flying everywhere* My penance, and your gift? I did not write that review. 😀

However, the title was in place, and an empty post page went into a draft. Till now. Till I realized what a perfect title it made, for the ONE movie that has quite captured my heart, and injected, no, imbued me with such inspiration, that I never knew was possible, and that too, for a movie. I’m of course, talking of Bhag Milkha Bhag. There. The dream, and the relentless pursuit of it, not knowing a dream was indeed unfolding. No airy fantasy dream, too. This time it was life. A dream. Life. And, suddenly, where the film is concerned, it is interchangeable. But, I get ahead of myself! And by now the few faithfuls here know how I love to meander 😀

Bhaag-Milkha-Bhaag-posterWe’ve all admired and endlessly sung paeans to Milkha Singh, the real one. Pushed around a few jokes too, about the ‘relaxing’ and the ‘Milkha Singh’ variety. Suddenly, I’m ashamed, I did, too, in the past. All I had was a ringside view, through a short extract from his book, once. Now, the story, fact, fictionalized perhaps to an extent, and its attendant emotions make me feel all the smaller, for having done that once upon a sometime. That’s what this film did to me. We knew that it wasn’t just luck, but deep and persevering commitment to doing what he did, to make that wonder of a season of medals happen, and yet, years on, it was simply taken for granted, his success, and brushed aside, just as easily.

Bhag Milkha Bhag jolts you out of that jaded almost indifferent attitude you have for Sport in India. It shows you. It makes you feel. And it makes you wish, hope, and dream that someday, someone will then become a Milkha again. Sigh. Almost 500 plus words and nothing on the film yet. 😆 Typical, ain’t it?

m2The movie opens on the one moment Milkha Singh, and indeed every Indian back then even now, would find unforgivable. His loss, if one can term it that way, at the 1960 Rome Olympics. So, it’s done, the lead up to the finale of a great career. He lost, and so where does the film go? Forward, by going backward. But this time, the traditional flashback, from the early days, chronologically proceeding to its fated conclusion is not the manner of this plot. I liked that tremendously. Of course, it goes without saying, I am biased. 😀

The story moves further, to his refusal to go to Pakistan, to participate in a friendly competition with them, and lead the team. We learn, in a slow unfolding of his story, from different persons, especially his first coach, and a younger Milkha making a counter-point, adding one more pieces to the bigger picture. His younger days in Multan in undivided India. The horrors of the partition. His deep love for his sister who took care of him. His foray into being a rebellious juvenile delinquent. (His biography does speak of time spent in jail, though the other activities of the juvenile may have more fiction than fact 🙂 ) I’m being chronological here, though it does not necessarily follow this order in the film. The movement, back and forth, from present moment to the time in the past, is very well edited, and quite seamless in its progress. It unfolds mainly through the eyes, and the heart of his first coach, Gurdev Singh, ably portrayed by Pavan Malhotra, who is trying to explain to Pandit Nehru’s aide why Milkha has refused to go to Pakistan for the friendly games. Bit by bit, each bit complete and steadfast to Milkha is this tribute to the inner demon that drove him; while paradoxically, the innocence of the sportsman shines through. Throughout.

ms-msboy milkhaFarhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh is exceptional. Brilliant. Awesome. In the true sense of each of these words. Truly. He carries the movie almost single-handedly, though one must give credit to each of his co-actors, even Sonam Kapoor. 😛 . Farhan is Milkha. You can’t not believe otherwise. He’s been described as ‘phenomenal’, ‘brilliant’, ‘inspirational’… by his own colleagues in the industry, in this film. True. Fact. The young actor who portrayed Milkha’s boyhood days, Japtej Singh (read about him here ) is almost on par with Farhan Akhtar. It’s the eyes that mesmerize. That show that innocence, the dream. Their faces mirror life, each at the point in life they are in. In each case, the actor and the character mesh in a way that one does not feel there is a mask. There is none. Farhan is Milkha. You’ve got to see him light up the screen to believe. A finer metaphor to have evolved, I do not think I have seen, in recent times.

And the voiceover of ‘Bhag Milkha Bhag’. At different points in the story there is a reason it rings out loud, that you do not need any other background sound. Be it desperation, encouragement, rage, and on occasion, a heartbroken plea – each at its particular moment rang clear, releasing a flood of emotion for the onscreen Milkha and the almost always us.

But the innocence of the man. His dream. His burning desire. His shame, at the Melbourne Olympics. And his determination to undo it. Amazing. Just amazing.

What did I forget? The music. The MUSIC! It has been playing on loop in our car, and the remote is stilled when it plays on whichever channel it is at. Shankar-Loy-Ehsaan have done a beautiful job. The screen play is fantastic. The editing too, superb. The dialogues witty, even though there is a lot of Punjabi. And Milkha’s ‘haau‘, meaning ‘YES’. For me, there isn’t even one wrong note in this symphony to that great Athlete.  Not one. The scene where he re-visits his home in Pakistan is a goosebumpy one. We were in a multiplex where most of the crowd were young college students. During that scene, where a heartbroken Milkha sobs uncontrollably, unknowingly your heart stops. I expected to hear jeers, and boos from  the active audience we had. Not a murmur. You should have been there. Not one single murmur. It was as if we were collectively reliving that moment with the character. How many films make us do that?

Farhan Akhtar, Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra, Prasoon Joshi, take a bow. Along with each person who was involved in this film.

Would I recommend this movie? Duh!

Or as Milkha would say, in the film (and probably in real life too) – Haau

Milkha Singh. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Sir!

16, 17th July, 2013

Link recommened for reading: Milkha’s biography on wiki
Pictures, courtesy, Google Images.

P.S. I’m not really satisfied with this non review. Sigh. There is so much more I could have said differently. But, at one thousand three hundred fifty plus words, I must stop. 😀

Author: Usha Pisharody

A rambler, pretends to be a teacher, loves to dream, and go on Quixotic Quests in the Realm of Romance With Life...

16 thoughts on “Bhag Milkha Bhag – The Raftaar of Dreams

  1. Will watch and come back here again. Had not thought of watching it until now… but now, will.


    • You must, IHM, if only for the sheer inspiration there! Fact, fiction… both do not really matter, for no claims are really made except for the credits at the end. I do hope you enjoy it! Thank you too, for wanting to, because of this write 🙂


  2. Milkha singh said that this was only part of his life story, and that for the whole biography it would have to be a 10 hour movie! So imagine , all that he must have gone through..

    Within it self, to go from all the psychological trauma in racing in pakistan again, because of all the moemories that it brought back to win! But for me I think his toughest challenge was post the loss in Australia. TO come to the realization of all the efforts he would have to put in to achieve what he wanted to, and then to say no all that he did! That requires courage


    • Very well said, Hrishikesh! There was so much more I did want to add, but then it was getting too much, already 🙂 You say it right, there are so many aspects to his life that have no mention here. But his courage, and how he motivated himself… those stand out. Poignantly.


  3. I so so so want to watch this movie! Have been wanting to ever since the promos started flashing on screen! And now after reading your review, even more so!
    Couple of my friends, though, have said that movie is unnecessarily long! Did you feel so too?


    • Yes someone did mention the movies was long. But, to be absolutely honest, I did not think so. I think my son also felt it could have been shorter. Not me. The promos are but the tip of the iceberg, as is meant to be. The movie is really really worth seeing!


  4. Do I want to watch the movie? Duh!
    I will when I get back.
    Loved reading your rambling (non) review 🙂


  5. Beautifully, emotionally written review, Usha! I told my niece that we will watch this movie shortly. But now I want to watch it as early as possible! I know I will cry while watching…thanks for the review, Usha!


    • Thank you Sandhya. Yes, there were moments in the movie that choked me up. But by and large, sentimentality has been avoided, yet retained in the right amount. It’s the unputdownable spirit of the sportsman that amazes 🙂


  6. This review is so dil se:) It was like reading my words… ……..as if I had seen the movie…will be watching it soon. more curious than ever now. And eager.


  7. Inspiring. I am definitely not talking about the movie here.! Yet to get lucky with booking tickets at convenient timings. Sorrow of a spinster in a world away from any multiplex! Tissue, please 😥

    As I was saying, Inspiring. the way you wrote the non-review. Such a modest oxymoron, I should say, this NON REVIEW. Really?A Non-review? Inspiring – to watch it and then write about it 🙂


  8. Forgot to mention. I read every single word without realizing I read 1350+ words. 🙂


  9. Usha,I must say this is a beautiful tribute to Milkha Singh, who has always made us feel proud of him. The awards and accolades that he has brought for the country certainly required a full length movie ! You have reviewed(?) the movie excellently.


  10. My sentiments echoes here 🙂


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