Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Directed by: Rakeysh OmPrakash Mehra

Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Divya Dutta, Prakash Raj

All images courtesy of:

Unlike Bhaag Milkha Bhaag itself, I am going to cut straight to the chase: BMB is a very good film. Inspired by the life of Indian athlete Milkha Singh, the film looks at different parts of this fictional Milkha’s life, from childhood to highs and lows of his career, not really aiming for any particular destination but being more about the journey itself. Loaded with detail, each frame has been carefully and lovingly constructed, with superb cinematography and pleasingly, an opportunity to let the character breathe on screen – many times, the camera lingers longer than the usual attention span allows, forcing the viewer to interact with the action.

Unfortunately, BMB does have one major flaw – the duration of the film, which is far too long and indulgent. Like a rich dessert, the first few mouthfuls are delightful but by the end, one is exhausted into submission so that not only does the emotional climax lose some impact but in general, the second half never really recaptures the momentum of the first half. Without a doubt, editing about 40 minutes out and adding a bit more pace would have helped BMB make for a much more satisfying film without losing any of its unshakeable strength and faith in its own premise.

Performance wise, Akhtar gives a career best, throwing every inch of himself into the role. He isn’t always successful but his effort and the moments he does break through are to be commended. His physical commitment alone is awe inspiring and one wishes the film duration had been as lean and mean. Divya Dutta is superb in her role, making sure her presence is felt and perfectly underlining the heartfelt parts of Milkha’s epic journey. I also loved Prakash Raj who has a lot of fun as the officer as well as Art Malik who in my opinion, is never bad in anything, ever. Pawan Malhotra and Yogesh Singh also impress in their turns as Milkha’s coaching team.

I have to mention Paan Singh Tomar which for me, is the ultimate biopic that managed to tell a similar epic story in a shorter space of time and is the film I prefer in comparison to BMB but then BMB is certainly at the same standard in terms of its production values and level of detail it seeks to achieve. I really wish Mehra would consider cutting down the duration and then presenting his complete vision in a director’s cut at a later date – not only would this help one appreciate the scale and ambition of BMB but would also bring a wider audience too which such a film deserves. In any case, BMB is a worthy addition to the growing canon of sport biopics in Hindi cinema and certainly recommended.

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