Rakeysh Mehra has an unique ability to tell Nationalistic stories like they’ve never been told before. This time, it’s a biopic of the legendary Milkha Singh. The teaser and the trailers, both, created a fantastic buzz and anticipation for the film which in no way, fails to cater to expectations. Farhan Akhtar clearly gives his most difficult and best performance as an actor. Rakeysh Mehra as Director brings in a few elements that we haven’t seen in his cinema before. There’s a great deal of rawness to the film which mixes with the ideas and roots of what a biopic should be so intelligently. Mehra’s vision of the effects of Partition and religious riots in the newly independent India and Pakistan is commendably shot and fearlessly told. Another element the Director brings in boldly is the element of surprise. When you are expecting something simple, a superbly scripted twist is thrown at you. And, when you’re looking for a pinch point or just something to go wrong (as you have seen in most old Indian Films in situations like that) the Director just takes it so easy and makes you look like a fool (if you expected that kind of a Twist) Dividing the two halves, you might laze a bit in your seat during the first half OF the first half. But then, the screenplay sucks you in. The love story is given only required amount of importance. Humour finds its way in at the right points of time, also, progressing the story in its own way. Like an ideal biopic should be, only incidents, events and happenings that are absolutely essential to depict the required traits of the character are shown. Sonam Kapoor has a small role. I would put her character on par with her character in the first half of Pankaj Kapoor’s Mausam. Divya Dutta is stunning throughout the film and plays a deeply emotional character fabulously. The back story is revealed in bits and pieces, slowly, along the story line, which is always interesting to watch and is indeed, rare in Hindi Cinema. Credit goes to Prasoon Joshi for experimenting with the storyline and not throwing in the regular linear storyline from child to national hero. The music is exceptional. Every single track plays at the time when your ears will be wanting one. Pavan Malhotra, known for the powerful and often ‘angry’ characters that he plays, pulls off another remarkable and terrific performance. Prakash Raj has a relatively smaller role but manages to get you interested with tasty dialogues and the accent. Nawab Shah, again, plays a Pakistani character. Little time on screen, but he depicts the required amount of sternness that one would look for in a coach of a Pakistani Star Athlete notably. Back to our lead, Farhan Akhtar’s performance is intense and thought provoking. Every scene that he is in, he wraps you up in a roll and pulls you into the unforgettably dramatic world of Milkha Singh. With a chiselled physique like that, the character’s conviction and deeply hidden inner conflicts reflect ever so well. The editing is one of the best aspects of the movie. Fantastically done, it’s one of the best edited films in recent years, in India. The camera work is commendable, beautiful and extremely experimental. Some angles used by the Director (low, very often) are unique and a pleasure to watch. Milkha will get you on the edge of your seat towards the end of the film.
Now for the negatives, most of them were in the first half. The earliest parts of the backstory were looking poor as compared to the way the rest of the back story is told. But, this was for a short while. The film got me deeply engrossed in the first half itself. But a little later. Complains barged in about the length of the film. All I can say is that when you try and depict a timespan of over 20 years that too as a biopic, it’s not a simple task. Rebecca Breeds plays a loveable character in a praiseworthy way. A short relationship that doesn’t function on verbal basis needs to be shown intelligently. Mehra does that.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is another landmark film by Rakeysh Mehra. It goes down and sits next to his epic Rang De Basanti pretty proudly. This biopic is more than just a watch.
I give the film 4/5