Bhaag Milkha Bhaag Movie Review by Taran Adarsh


Biopics are fast gaining popularity in Hindi movies and several conscientious film-makers are attempting movies based on the life events of iconic and distinguished personalities. THE LEGEND OF BHAGAT SINGH and BOSE: THE FORGOTTEN HERO won immense critical acclaim… PAAN SINGH TOMAR not only won critical and commercial success, but fetched the most prestigious honor as well — National Award… THE DIRTY PICTURE, on the life and times of an actress, too made waves… Another biopic on a sportsperson, Mary Kom, is currently taking shape… Biopics on gangsters have been attempted in the recent past… A biopic on the life of legendary singer Kishore Kumar is on the cards, while the one on the 19th century artist, Raja Ravi Varma [RANG RASIYA], is already complete. Expect many more in days to come. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s biopic BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG, based on the life of legendary athlete Milkha Singh, the country’s national treasure, is now ready for viewing.

A handful of films sprint that extra mile beyond providing meager entertainment to its spectators. BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG is one such cinematic experience. However, director Mehra and writer Prasoon Joshi encompass pertinent episodes/chapters from the icon’s life and create a film that makes you salute the sportsperson, besides evoking the spirit of nationalism in the spectator.

BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG chronicles the life of Indian sprinter Milkha Singh from his childhood to achieving the iconic standing. The film takes you back in time when Milkha lost his family members during the partition and his rise to the celebrated status without any prescribed guidance or monetary backing. The film also encapsulates his attachment to his sister [Divya Dutta] and the woman he gave his heart to [Sonam Kapoor]. Also depicted in this 3-hour+ film are the conquests, the lows, the rise to splendor and distinction, the skilful attainment…

The supremely talented director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and the proficient writer Prasoon Joshi amass the varied occurrences from the phenomenon’s life, although the focus is clearly on the documentation of Milkha’s illustrious career, his uphill struggle, impediments, apprehensions and eventual triumph. Besides staying true to Milkha’s life and conquests, Mehra and Joshi interweave a spellbinding screenplay that doesn’t limit it to being a mere sports-based film. In fact, the writer comes up with an incredible script that keeps you hooked from commencement to conclusion. There are a number of sequences that make you moist eyed, besides leaving an indelible impression. The sharp edit [P.S. Bharathi] and the electrifying background score further elevate the film to an exceptional level.

There’s no denying that Mehra has a ear for superior melody and the soundtrack of RANG DE BASANTI and DELHI 6 bear testimony to the fact. However, this time, Mehra opts for Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. This one’s a plot-motivated movie; consequently, the songs cater more to the situations than creating a sound-rich album. Binod Pradhan’s cinematography is of international grade. He captures every beat, every tone, every nuance with mastery.

Hindi movies offer infrequent opportunities to actors to depict iconic and inspirational characters and Farhan gets the opportunity of portraying the most demanding role of his career so early in his acting vocation. Over the past few years, Farhan has progressively evolved into a superior actor, but he outshines himself — and also the spectator’s expectations — with BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG. Farhan delivers an enchanting performance as the Flying Sikh, leaving the spectator awe-stuck in several sequences. His brilliant portrayal and meticulous interpretation of the character is sure to win him colossal admiration, approbation and respect from all quarters.

What’s noteworthy is the effort the actor has invested in looking the part. Right from his chiseled, athletic physique, the hair, the body language et al, Farhan has pushed himself beyond limits to illustrate the eminent and renowned character of Milkha Singh with precision. He leaves you astonished at varied stages and you can’t help but admire the hard slog, passion, commitment and earnestness of the actor. This is an unblemished, memorable performance that should find a strong nomination in the year’s best performances.

Milkha learnt some of life’s most crucial and critical tutorials from his senior, portrayed luminously by Pawan Malhotra. He inculcated valor and determination in Milkha to encounter the uphill struggles in life and I genuinely believe that any amount of admiration will not do adequate justice to the extraordinary depiction of this character by Pawan Malhotra. Cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s actor-father Yograj Singh, who has been an integral part of several films in the past, excels as Farhan’s coach. He is simply incredible here. Prakash Raj, cast in a positive role, is in fine form too.

Sonam puts her best foot forward as well. Although the character is brief, she shines in those pertinent moments nonetheless. Australian actress Rebecca Breeds has a pivotal part and the chemistry she shares with Farhan is super. Divya Dutta is simply outstanding as Farhan’s sister. An extraordinary actor, she handles the demanding part with flourish.

British actor Art Malik seems most appropriate in the role of Farhan’s father. Dalip Tahil [as Pandit Nehru], K.K. Raina [as Mr Wadhwa], Nawab Shah [as Coach Javed], Meesha Shafi [as Perizaad], Dev Gill [as Abdul Khaliq] and Shanta Kumar [as Gen. Ayub Khan] are wonderful in their respective parts. Jabtej Singh, as the young Milkha, is superb.

On the whole, BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG is sure to win accolades, admiration, respect and esteem, besides emerging as a champ. Reserve the applause for Milkha Singh and the team behind BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG. Give it a standing ovation!


  1. Baba 8 years ago

    good to know. i hope the film is good and proves me wrong. liked this song

  2. Author
    aryan 8 years ago

    Bhaag Milkha Bhaag Movie Review by Subhash K Jha

    run to watch this marvel

    History is created in several ways. One of them is cinema. And if Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” seems like a near-flawless homage to the flying spirit of India’s greatest runner, it is partly because the story, so nimbly woven into a pastiche of drama, emotion, humour and pathos by Prasoon Joshi, is in no hurry to keep pace with the onscreen Milkha’s breathless sprint.

    The story of super-sprinter Milkha Singh unfolds in this exceptional biopic at its own volition. There’s no effort here “to tell a story”, to create an impression or to whip up a dramatic storm to captivate audiences. The synergy in the storytelling seems subliminal.

    Still, we the audience, fed week after week on mediocrity masquerading as cinema, are riveted to the story of Milkha Singh for over three hours of playing time.

    How come? Well, to begin with it is Milkha Singh’s own powerful life as India’s superstar sportsperson that sweeps us into the biopic. Milkha was so poor he couldn’t afford running shoes, and when he got them, he didn’t know how to run in them. When milk was offered in the army in exchange of running practice, he grabbed it (the run and the milk) with both hands.

    A victim of India’s brutal partition, Milkha’s story was waiting to be told. And thankfully, no one before Mehra saw cinematic potential in his story. If Milkha’s story had to be told, the storyteller had to be a master craftsman, and one who doesn’t waste space in self-congratulatory flourishes.

    With immense help from Prasoon Joshi, Mehra harnesses Milkha’s life-story into an experience that is pure cinema and yet undiluted and uncompromised by the mandatory, often silly, illogical and idiotic semantics of mainstream commercial cinema.

    The absolutely seamless editing by P. Bharathi is impressive. The film is very stylishly cut, but not at the cost of losing the simplicity and the innate ascetism of the sportsman-hero. And yes, there are songs composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, but they are so effortlessly woven into Milkha’s saga that we don’t see them as “song breaks”.

    This is as good a time as any to tell you that Farhan Akhtar does the Bhangra as well as any Punjabi. Actually, he doesn’t dance. He just flows with the rhythm. I’ve never seen any actor dance with such rhapsodic abundance. Neither have I seen any actor run like Farhan.

    I don’t know how fast Milka ran, but Farhan’s Milkha doesn’t fake it for even a second. When he runs, he really runs. When he stumbles and takes a fall, we flinch and wince in our seats. Farhan’s body language and emotions and expression as Milkha is pitch-perfect.

    Farhan doesn’t ‘play’ Milkha. The actor occupies Milkha’s mind, body and soul. There are episodes in this astonishingly, well-structured biopic where Farhan’s oneness with Milkha equals Ben Kingsley’s empathy with Mahatma Gandhi in “Gandhi”.

    This isn’t just a film about a sportsperson who brought untold glory to our country. “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” is the story of an individual’s journey from nullity to pinnacles of success in a world where politics and violence are constant reminders of how little an individual’s aspirations matter in the larger, often murkier scheme.

    In Prasoon Joshi’s interpretation of Milkha’s amazing success-story, yearning is the cornerstone to achievement. In 1947, when India became two nations, we see little Milkha (Jabtej Singh) run for his life to escape the savage butchery that snatches away almost his entire family.

    Only his dear sister, played wonderfully by Divya Dutta, remains. As we see it, Milkha never stopped running since the partition trauma.

    The ‘run’ as a metaphor of life’s expedient circumstances, runs through the narrative.

    Happily, the screen time is as much taken up with Milkha’s record-breaking achievements on the field, as it is with vignettes from his personal life.

    There is a robust heartwarming romance between Milkha and the vessel-friendly ‘kudi’ Biro (Sonam Kapoor, looking prettier than ever). The writer and director invest inexpressible warmth in the protagonist’s courtship scenes. We’ve seen this kind of love blossom on Punjab’s soil before. But it still feels special and unique.

    Farhan does the rest. And he gets tremendous support from other actors, specially Divya Dutta, who is incomparably sincere in her role. Pavan Malhotra as Milkha’s coach is as usual, first-rate.

    Unlike other period films in recent times which have conveniently and lazily resorted to antiques, artefacts and vintage songs, the 1950s in “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” simply and effortlessly emerges from the character and his milieu.

    Binod Pradhan’s camera glides across Milkha’s inner and outer world, and telling it like it is. There’s a complex design to the seeming simplicity of this saga of a simple Sikh who would guzzle two cans of ghee on challenge and run to the winning post on feet mauled by jealous rivals.

    Who said life could ever be easy for those who aspire to fly higher than the rest? The beautiful irony of Milkha Singh’s life that this consummate biopic captures so ably, is that he really didn’t aspire to anything. He ran simply because he had to.

    The rest, as they say, is history.

    “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” is the kind of cinema that doesn’t tempt us to share the protagonist’s life with any false hopes. We the audience are driven into a desperate urge to share Milkha’s life not only because he ran fast, but because he wasn’t afraid to stumble, falter and fall.

    Ironically, this film on Milkha rarely slips up, if ever.

    At one point, in an under-punctuated flashback, we hear Milkha confide in his sweetheart that he would like the government to declare a national holiday in his honour.

    I recommend a national holiday for the entire nation to go and see this movie. It makes the other recent high-profile acclaimed films look hopelessly inadequate.

    Rating: Five Stars

  3. I.One 8 years ago

    WOW! So many positives for the movie and cast. Looks like a must watch.

  4. sputnik 8 years ago

    Navjot Gulati’s tweets.

    “Bhaag Mikha Bhaag is NOT the film of the year. Sadly. It could have been. If they hired an EDITOR and CASTING DIRECTOR who knew their Job!”

    “Yessss..but some scenes did move me..n the races were superbly executed..Farhan ka diction was BAD.”

    “Har dialogue kay right aur left mein ‘Jee’ lagane sey koi punjabi nahi hojaata. #NotetoBollywoodfilmmakers”

    “Farhan Akhtar looks like Milkha but his diction is BAD. So is the handling of Mehra of talkie flashback scenes. Most of them. #FAIL”

    “The film sure has some sparkling moments which are SUPERB. It is a one time watch just for those. Otherwise a disappointment.”

    “I can see the film again just for the Races. Music and the Australian Chic! Rebecca. #BMB”

    “Also the WTF casting of the year award will go to casting directors of BMB for casting Dileep Tahil and Jograj Ham Singh,”

  5. Author
    aryan 8 years ago

    Bhaag Milkha Bhaag Movie Review by Komal Nahta

    Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures’ Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is a biopic on the life of India’s ace athlete, Milkha Singh, who came to be known as Flying Sikh because of the speed at which he used to run.

    Little Milkha (master Jabtej Singh) had a traumatic childhood. After the death of his parents, he lived with his doting married sister, Ishri Kaur (Divya Dutta). As a child, Milkha used to hate his sister’s husband as he used to torture her physically and mentally. One day, things had come to such a head that Milkha was thrown out of his sister’s house.

    The grown-up Milkha (Farhan Akhtar) joined the army and was soon selected to represent India as an athlete because he was a very fast runner. The film talks about the rigorous training he had to undergo to become the phenomenon he became. It also traces his journey to superstardom.

    The story oscillates between the present times – when Milkha is already a star-athlete – and the past when he was still a child. It moves forward as it lays bare the trials and tribulations of Milkha Singh. One day, Milkha Singh is selected for representing India in a friendly race to be held in Pakistan, with the aim of cementing the strained relations between the neighbouring countries. However, Milkha Singh turns down the honourable offer and pleads inability to travel to Pakistan. Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru is perplexed with Milkha Singh refusing to participate in the competition and he asks the sports secretary, Wadhwa (K.K. Raina), to meet Milkha Singh and convince him to go.

    The sports secretary goes alongwith Milkha Singh’s coaches, Gurudev Singh (Pawan Malhotra) and Ranveer Singh (Yograj Singh). In the train journey from Delhi to Chandigarh, coach Gurudev Singh narrates the life story of Milkha Singh to the sports secretary and, in the process, reveals why Milkha Singh was unwilling to travel to Pakistan.

    What is the reason for Milkha Singh unwilling to accept the honour of representing India in the friendly race between India and Pakistan? Is the sports secretary able to convince Milkha Singh to change his mind? Does Milkha Singh travel to Pakistan? Does he represent India in the race? If he does, what is the result?

    Prasoon Joshi’s story is very well-researched and traces the entire life story of the sports superstar right till the time he came to be respectfully called Flying Sikh. The screenplay, penned by Prasoon Joshi, has all the ingredients – pain, drama, humour, emotions, joy, sorrow, defeat, victory and even a little bit of romance when Milkha Singh falls in love with a simple girl, Biro (Sonam Kapoor). While the pain and difficulties of Milka Singh have been underlined, the problem is that too much time is devoted in showing all of them. The drama could’ve done with a far more condensed version of the trials and tribulations because after a point of time, they begin to slightly bore the viewer, especially the masses and the audience frequenting single-screen cinemas. No doubt, the class audience and a huge section of the multiplex-frequenting audience will love every moment of the screenplay but the fact remains that the drama, although universally appealing, becomes a bit too long for the masses to enjoy and/or appreciate it completely.

    There are many plus points and highlights in the film. The humour in the flashback childhood scenes and training scenes is extremely entertaining and very enjoyable. The emotional appeal of the drama is also good because it would draw tears from the viewers’ eyes or at least get a lump in their throats. In particular, the scene in which Milkha Singh gifts gold earrings to his sister, the scene in which he establishes a new world record in spite of his injury, the scene in which he is asked to escape when his family members are being killed – scenes like these are high on the emotional quotient. Also, the entire climax is mind-blowing and will be met with huge rounds of applause.

    The first half has entertainment value, especially in the scenes of Milkha Singh’s childhood as well as training. However, it is also true that the first half has several dull moments and sequences because they are repetitive and lengthy. The post-interval portion moves at far more speed and is more engaging than the first half. Dialogues, written by Prasoon Joshi, are extraordinary and give an insight into the genius of the writer and his ease with words.

    Farhan Akhtar looks the athletic character he plays. He shines as Milkha Singh and delivers an award-winning performance. The amount of effort which has gone into his performance is evident. Farhan has worked very hard on his physique and the Sikh look and to supreme advantage. Sonam Kapoor has a very brief role and is good in what she is required to do. Pawan Malhotra is first-rate as coach Gurudev Singh. Yograj Singh is also splendid as coach Ranveer Singh. Prakash Raj is very entertaining and endears himself instantly. His splendid acting even in the tension-filled climax evokes laughter. Divya Dutta makes the most of her character by doing an absolutely fantastic job. She makes it easy for the audience to feel the emotions they are supposed to feel, with her outstanding acting. K.K. Raina leaves a mark with a polished performance. Rebecca Breeds has her cute moments as Stella, Milkha Singh’s girlfriend in Australia. Art Malik, as Milkha’s father, is nice. Dalip Tahhil makes his presence felt as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Master Jabtej Singh is lovely as young Milkha. Meesha Shafi (as Perizad), Mahendra Mehwati (as Kirpal Singh), Nawab Shah (as coach Javed), Dev Gill (as Abdul Khaliq), Shantakumar (as Gen. Ayub Khan), Chandan Gill (as Sampreet Singh), master Chinmaya Sharma (as young Sampreet Singh) and the others lend good support.

    Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s direction is extraordinary. His narrative style keeps the audience engrossed. No doubt, his scenes are lengthy but the entertainment value is never lost. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music is very good but the absence of a couple of super-hit songs is felt. Prasoon Joshi’s lyrics are very inspirational. Song picturisations (by Ganesh Acharya, Shiamak Davar and Vaibhavi Merchant) are eye-filling. Binod Pradhan’s cinematography is outstanding. Sets (Sumit Basu) are very nice. Action scenes have been beautifully choreographed by Allan Amin. P.S. Bharathi’s editing is masterly. Technical values are of a high standard.

    On the whole, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag will have an eventful run at the cinemas and will turn out to be a richly rewarding film for all concerned. Its undue length will adversely affect collections to an extent and will, therefore, tell on the box-office results but it will still prove to be a very paying proposal. Business in the big cities and good multiplexes will be excellent.

  6. Author
    aryan 8 years ago

    Bhaag Milkha Bhaag Movie Review by Sukanya Verma/Rediff

    Bhaag Milkha Bhaag lacks clarity and coherence, writes Sukanya Verma.

    You know the thing about unfortunate run-outs in cricket?

    Sometimes a batsman inching closer towards a knockout innings runs so eagerly in between wickets that by the time he gets on the other side, his off-guard co-batsman has not even started.
    Click here!

    Although Bhaag Milkha Bhaag involves a completely different sport, the aforementioned scenario sits as an appropriate analogy to describe how Farhan Akhtar’s zeal is let down by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s distracted story-telling.

    Legendary athlete Milkha Singh’s life, on whom this feature is based, is truly inspiring and filled with a lot of exciting chapters that in the tradition of most biopics are dramatised and somewhat exaggerated to render it gripping and gritty.

    It’s a filmmaker’s call as to what extent he will intensify the actual with the imagined and haggle with style over substance.

    Sadly, in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Mehra goes overboard in his bid to look epic and promoting ad film aesthetics that focus on Farhan’s remarkable physicality as he trains against Ladakh’s majestic terrains, or swims in Australia’s blue ocean with a pretty local in vintage swimwear or has recurring visions of the dreadful hour he witnessed the massacre of his folks that appear like a tacky VFX mash-up between Imran Khan’s dreams in Jaane Tu…Yaa Jaane Naa and the dark, sepia-toned skies of Zack Snyder’s 300.

    Mehra’s comfort with histrionics infused Rang De Basanti with its hard-hitting rebellion but that was the whole point behind its story.

    Bhaag Milkha Bhaag fails to achieve that level of clarity or coherence, primarily because of Prasoon Joshi’s faulty screenplay and sleepy editing by P Bharti, which appears both overwhelmed and clueless about putting together the many chapters of a sportsman’s eventful existence.

    So Bhaag Milkha Bhaag adopts the contrived route wherein everyone competing with the titular hero is entirely nefarious and out to break his legs or bully him like those Rajput dudes in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander and everything Pakistan implies hostile like those arrogant tyrants in every second jingoistic Bollywood flick.

    Moreover, this indecision to project Bhaag Milkha Bhaag as either a) a man dealing with the painful memories of his childhood in partition era, b) the blossoming of a happy-go-lucky army man into a superstar athlete or c) why an individual doesn’t want to visit Pakistan overlaps too often in this three-hour plus, flashback-within-flashback drama to ruin a potentially promising premise.

    The last point, especially, makes no sense.

    It could be answered in the same breath that it was asked by K K Raina but poor Pawan Malhotra is handed the unpleasant task of recounting the entire story, including Milkha’s fleeting romance (which has NOTHING to do with the query) and other digressions before the film reaches its extended finishing line.

    It’s not that BMB is devoid of glorious moments.

    Milkha’s camaraderie with his friends in the army, especially his doodh-chanting aspirations in a cross-country run, his ghee-feasting gusto outside the police chowki or his slap-filled outburst at himself after losing a race in Melbourne.

    Also, the portions with the younger Milkha (Japtej Singh) are quite memorable owing to this young actor’s exuberant smile, effortless fervour boosted by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s roaring soundtrack and Binod Pradhan’s beautiful frames, which nimbly change with the mood of its story.

    It’s also a relief to see Prakash Raj in a role that’s far less bombastic than what he usually does in Bollywood.

    Others like Malhotra, Raina, Divya Dutta (she exudes more emotion than all of BMB), provide the narrative its mandatory sighs and sobs but it’s Dalip Tahil’s uninspired, laughable casting as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru that truly baffles.

    There’s also Sonam Kapoor with her carefully-styled messy hair in a role that lasts a few minutes. She’s no gaon ki Punjaban but with such short screen time, there’s little damage one can do.

    Ultimately, the only reason to watch this disappointment is Farhan Akhtar’s career-best delivery.

    He visibly labours to acquire a stunning physicality, a body language that knows legs that run from legs that race and rinse off the urban texture of his personality to become the Flying Sikh who overcomes extraordinary battles — of mind, body and society to emerge a victor.

    And he does, leaving everyone behind.

    Rating: 2 and Half

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