I’ll go with 3 out 5 medals for this race.
A staggering 187 minute drama or should I say Biopic is quite daunting. Now when you make or intend to make a movie that long,whats the first thing that comes to your mind? Editing. It holds the key to the exit sign in the auditorium.It holds the audience glued to the seat.Whats the next thing that matters in such a Biopic ? Authenticity. It makes the character real and closer to the audience.
In my humble who cares opinion, I’d have made this movie at least one hour shorter . Edit out too many slo-mo shots, songs,Sonam Kapoor sequence for starters. When you are paying attention to detail, like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag attempts to make, then you cannot show an athlete wearing a jersey with Germany tag in 1960. Either it would’ve been East or West Germany , as was the case back then.
Some of the Biopics that made a mark on me were Michael Collins,Schindlers List,Gandhi,Ali,Malcolm X, Remember the Titans,King’s Speech,Life is Beautiful etc. I ve omitted names like Lincoln and Moneyball for the same reason mentioned above. In B-Town,we have had some good attempts, Legend of Bhagat Singh,Hey Ram (by far the best),Bose,Paan Singh Tomar (extraordinary),Chak De,Gandhi My Father are some notable mentions.
Its a tough ask to recreate the charisma,magic,or tragedy as the case may be.In fact the challenge lies in figuring out the screenplay and presentation.If it is too verbose and descriptive it could be branded as a documentary.If it is too loosely based ,then it defeats the purpose of calling it a Biopic.Then there are the pressures of making it a commercial success, more so applicable to the Indian Film Industry.So many households depend on a movie making money.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, for most part seems self absorbing and indulgent.Super slo-mo camera work looks goo on screen once in a while not in every third of fourth sequence.The story narration happens in multiple layers,which I thought could’ve been reduced to one layer, like a simple flashback.The melodrama content could ve been reduced. Every time Milkha loses a race it need not be because of some emotional reason, sometimes the better athlete wins you know and its ok.As most coaches would tell you, give no excuses, what matters is just the results.
Here’s what worked for the movie. The protagonist played by Farhan Akhtar does well not to overdo the role.There is an element of restraint which comes across quite beautifully.The coach played by the talented Pavan Malhtora breathed life into the character.His eyes do most of the talking.Divya Dutta as the loving sister pulls off emotion scenes quite well.The scene where she breaks down after being abused by her husband/caretaker is particularly well emoted.Sonam Kapoor,does what she does best, i.e. look pretty.She really needs a solid de glam role to be taken seriously as an actor, but I guess age is on her side at the moment,so she will get chances.She does well in whatever little bit was given to her.Dalip Tahil has Pandit Nehru was slightly overweight for the screen I thought and K.K .Raina was quite wasted.I did notice the hair change from younger to the older version – that was good attention to detail.But the one that takes the cake was the Bush Transistor.
The climax in Pakistan was the highlight.(I remembered Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar having a great climax sequence ) The crowd was clapping and the mood in the theater was charged, I guess it added to the feel.The Pakistani coach,athlete and Sher Singh Rana – all these characters were a little over the top. However not too jarring so as to disrupt the flow.
Overall – I’d recommend this as a weekday noon show watch in the theater (you pay less money for the tickets as compared to weekends) and or wait for the DVD to come,so you could forward some of the slo mo stuff. Its good to see such movies being made and the maturity is evolving with the current crop of directors we have.
- ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ review: Too long to leave a lasting impression (ibnlive.in.com)
- Bhaag Milkha Bhaag: This Milkha jogs (thehindu.com)