MUMBAI: Former Indian athlete Milkha Singh wanted the upcoming generation to know who Milkha Singh was, and looks like Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and his team have been successful in bringing his story to the big screen in ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, along with Farhan Akhtar, Sonam Kapoor, Milkha Singh and Ajit Andhare, COO of Viacom18’s films business launched the trailer of ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ as well as the music of this highly anticipated movie.
Gaurav Kalra, sports editor at CNN-IBN initially introduced Milkha Singh to the audience present as a figure who had won 77 out of 80 races he had run in his life, a record still standing till date. Later Ajit Andhare too mentioned that as a producer, ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ was a film that made him proud.
The ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ trailer was then launched, depicting various events from Milkha Singh’s life. From his childhood, to his time in the Indian Army, as well as running as an athlete for India, Farhan Akhtar did not just “enact Milkha Singh, but became Milkha Singh” as Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra put it. Even Milkha Singh himself felt that the film has made his legend alive again.
Sonam Kapoor who watched the trailer of ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ for the first time was left teary-eyed because of the emotions, blood, sweat and tears in the story onscreen.
Milkha Singh revealed that there were two regrets in his life, something that is depicted in ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ as well. The first one was at the 1960 Rome Olympics, where Milkha Singh missed out on a bronze medal for India. The second regret was when he couldn’t stop his parents from being killed in front of his eyes during the partition. Milkha Singh hoped that a youth would get inspired by the ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ film and would go on, one day, to bring back a medal for India at the Olympics.
Mehra also revealed that ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ wasn’t a sports movie or a movie about a sportsman, but more about the triumph of the human spirit. In this case, the human spirit in question was Milkha Singh. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra was intrigued by the life of Milkha Singh, a person who had lost his childhood when his parents were killed, a person who had to earn his daily income, and from there went on to win accolades for the nation. “Milkha Singh lost one of the most important races of his life, but won against life,” Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra said.
The filmmaker won the battle against other directors to film Milkha Singh’s life due to some help from Milkha Singh’s son Jeev Milkha Singh, the professional golfer. Jeev Milkha Singh had watched Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s previous film ‘Rang De Basanti’ and therefore put in a good word for him to Milkha Singh, who had not watched a single movie since 1960 and was hence unfamiliar with any present-day actors or directors.
Farhan Akhtar spoke about the training he put into his role. When Farhan Akhtar had met Milkha Singh in Chandigarh before beginning the shooting of ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, he promised that he would work hard. Farhan Akhtar had to go through various exercises for endurance, strength and stamina. Milkha Singh also said that Farhan Akhtar had managed to imbibe his own running style and nuances, and even managed to look like him.
Milkha Singh’s decision to not go to Pakistan to run is portrayed in ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, but there would have been a coincidence with real life if the rumour that ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ would not release in Pakistan would turn out to be true. Fortunately, Rameysh Omprakash Mehra clarified that they had received offers to release ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ in Pakistan and that studios in Pakistan had claimed that the release of ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ could result in the revival of Pakistani cinema.
‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ releases in India on 12 July, 2013.