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  • Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is an intense bio-drama Movie Review

    What it's about: A biopic is never easy to make. How do you fit someone's entire life in a few hours? What parts do you highlight and which slice do you decide to leave out while still staying true to the story? That explains the length of the film, which is over three hours. Rakeysh OmPrakash Mehra gives you more than the story of Milkha Singh the athlete. Most of us have heard his name, but none or very few of us know his story, so this was a story waiting to be heard. Mehra chronicles young Milkha's (Farhan Akhtar) life from a small village (now in Pakistan) to India. Then follows it into youth who falls in love and then joins the army, where he begins his training to become an athlete. BMB is proof that there are intelligent filmmakers makes sensible films for the discerning audience. This is an important film for many reasons.  It radiates sincerity and it acknowledges and celebrates one of our heroes.

    What's good: Some lives are made for the big screen. Milkha Singh's certainly is one. It has everything. Pain of losing a family, the backdrop of partition, the determination to win the one you love and a dream. Throw it all together with the added drama of India vs Pakistan and you have one of the most neglected sports stories of the century. You wonder why no one has made a film on this living legend. With an eye to authenticity, the director transports you back a few decades into past with superb period reconstruction. Even if you have no interest in sports and have never switched to a sports channel, this film will draw you in and has enough to keep you interested. Mehra has managed to draw meaty performances from all his actors, including the child actor who plays young Milkha. But the magic of the film lies in the simple moments. Like the new army recruits dancing in their barracks, the village gathering to hear the race on the radio, Milkha's fascination for wearing the official India blazers. Mehra also packs in emotional resonance with the brother-sister portions. Milkha runs the race despite the injury, or when he meets his sister in his India jacket.The film is good but Farhan Akhtar is exceptional. He gets all the nuances right. There are those awkward moments at times but that adds to the charm. Farhan dominates almost every frame in the film and dazzles in each one. Pawan Malhotra is brilliant as the Sikh army officer. Divya Dutta is commendable as always. Sonam Kapoor has little to do in her special appearance except be the perfect warm counterpart to Milkha. The songs and the background scrore is bang on. Finally, Mehra proves that it is  possible to make a good biopic while the events that transpired are still relevant and the characters involved are still alive.

    What's not: It's a sports tale but don't expect a Chak De! India or a Swades. You will find yourself cheering for Milkha a few times but you wish there was more to cheer for. While it is what one would call a semi-documentary, it is in the end, a big budget commercial film and the director somewhere forgets that.  This one relies entirely on one man, and though he delivers brilliantly, there are portions when you find yourself wishing the pace would pick up. The editor lets some scenes linger till there is uncomfortable silence for too long and awkward giggling in the theatre. This happens on many occasions like Divya Dutta's breakdown scene when she finds her brother and when Farhan breaks down when he returns home to the house he grew up in. It's not about the length. A film over three hours can keep you entertained throughout. This one loses you somewhere in the second half but then draws you back in.
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