Bollywood Movie Review: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Rashmi Daryanani , 12 Jul 2013
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag opens – surprisingly – at a significant moment in Milkha Singh‘s life: the 1960 summer Olympics in Rome, where he lost out on a medal by finishing in fourth place. Thereafter, through a series of flashbacks and flashforwards, several key moments of the great runner’s life are depicted in a saga, with the main aim of answering one question: why won’t Milkha agree to compete in Pakistan?

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is perhaps one of the most ambitious projects to come out of Bollywood as of late, but does it live up to the huge expectations surrounding it?

If there’s one actor in recent times who has completely handed himself over to a film, it would be Farhan Akhtar for this one. The work he’s put into this role is evident, from building that rock-hard body to getting right into the skin of a Sikh character. He brings Milkha to life, and even if this is an exaggerated – or inaccurate – version of the real life Milkha Singh’s personality, Farhan still creates a distinct character. The best scenes in the movie are, perhaps, when Milkha is undergoing relentless training: Farhan absolutely shines in these moments, making you believe in Milkha’s blood and sweat. This is his magnum opus, and he deserves all the praise for his work.

bhaagmilkha31

Unfortunately, Farhan’s performance remains one of the few good things. The film – written by Prasoon Joshi, directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra – is much too fragmented to tell an actual story. Part of the blame for that can be assigned to the constant flashbacks and flashforwards, which make it hard to stay focused. But a big chunk of the problem is also the insistence upon chronicling every detail of Milkha’s life, even while incorporating moments that – we’re assuming – didn’t actually happen. As stand-alones, some of these scenes are entertaining and give you glimpses into the character’s life. But their inclusion into the film feels unnecessary, resulting in a three-hour-plus movie that looks more like an assortment of various moments rather than one coherent story.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

What drags the story down even further is the main ‘mystery’ that it hinges on. The film attempts to answer the question of why Milkha doesn’t want to return to Pakistan, except that – knowing the Partition plays an important part in the runner’s life – the reason feels obvious from the beginning. The build-up, then, has none of the intended impact.

Despite that, the film is shot well and is supported by some good acting. Pavan Malhotra, Yograj SinghPrakash Raj all deliver great performances, while Divya Dutta is ace as always. Sonam Kapoor is sweet and likable as the innocent Biroo. Rebecca Breeds is endearing. The kid who plays young Milkha Singh is fantastic.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Verdict:

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag had the potential to be so much more than it was, if only the story was more focused, eliminating unnecessary subplots and scenes. The effort and work the team has put in is obvious and admirable, but unfortunately what we end up with is a film that “could have been” – albeit, one with some great performances.

With inputs from Amruta Khatavkar.

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