What an anticlimax? Or is it actually? I probably wasn't so unsure even after writing the biggest competitive examination of my life. I was fairly convinced about my chances of getting through the probability of one in thousand. But what do I say about the fate of "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag"!! With great fanfare i booked the ticket for its paid preview before its formal (& wider) release the next day. In not so predictable Mumbai monsoon weather, on a bad week day, i overcame all odds to drive 3 hours at stretch to be able to catch the much anticipated biopic before any of my friends do & still quite disappointingly missed initial 3-4 minutes. It didn't exactly inspire an Opera like feeling inside the multiplex screen with more than half the seats empty. Alright, tomorrow is not a holiday as well but for one of the most anticipated cine ventures of 2013 it was a sorry state of affairs. To some extent it appeared blasphemous that audience didn't even get excited to cheer up one of their SOLE sporting icon for decades on Bada Parda.
So what's wrong here? All through the three hours of this narrative drama people kept their cool with lot of patience (definitely due to their sheer respect for the great athlete). Not that it was another Ram Gopal Verma like brainless dud. In fact, far from it. Yet if I were to take out 2 outstanding contributions across all the film making departments & individual performances it would just be Farhan Akhtar & Divya Dutta although cinematography is also above par.
Story lacks the punch & feels like is getting dragged by a towing vehicle mostly all through the length of the movie. If you don't know in advance I bet you would be surprised to know who the director is! He is the same gentleman who not so long ago gave us few classics. No doubt he has put in his entire experience while making it as well & kudos to him for choosing this tricky genre which inherently is a double edged sword.
As an exacting coach Yograj Singh couldn't ask for a better living his routine life on screen (for records, he is Yuvraj Singh's father). Pawan Malhotra knows playing just one type of roles but we also know that nobody else does it better. As a doting sister & oppressed conservative wife Divya Dutta doesn't fail to impress. She is one such under explored actress. Prakash Raj also shines but briefly even as he couldn't get to develop his role. Sonam Kapoor was grossly wasted.
The real & only star of the film is expectantly Farhan who has put in his heart & soul into essaying this once in a lifetime role. He appears to have taken not only the face & body but also the spirit of Milkha Ji.
What touches you is the vulnerability of characters, especially Milkha who earnestly admits on his follies. Since the legend himself has sold the story to the film makers for a token consideration of one rupee its authenticity for screen adaptation can't be questioned and at times you end up wondering if our hero "also did this"!!
Since I was in Hunder (Ladakh) when the movie crew visited there for a shoot I was not surprised to find that the most dramatic scene of the movie depicting transformation of Milkha into the Flying Sikh was shot under possibly the most overwhelmingly imposing surroundings of this (beyond description) picturesque sight which enthralls you even in normal weather condition. Go! Do visit this place to get the real feel for yourself (more on it in my earlier blogs of last year).
Lastly, I sincerely request Ra(y)kesh to drop the baggage which genetically talented people like him don't need & all such numerological experiments can best be left for lesser mortals like one of my namesakes.
If multiplexes don't cut the ticket prices considerably and/or the governments make it tax free in their states to mark respect to the legend & this genuine attempt (which should ideally have taken the shape of a documentary than mainstream cinema) I fear it would crash land on a satellite channel before the Independence Day to recover its cost.
At 2:30 AM I can't find motivation to write any more on my state of confusion. This is just cinema & certainly not an entertainer for the masses. Better luck next time.