Sports films always rake in the moolah and build an instant connect with the masses. Take Chak De India for sample or even the exemplary Paan Singh Tomar. It's the perseverance of the lead protagonists, their strife for excellence and their indefatigable spirit that strikes a chord with people making the stories cult. However, the fact that you are making a biopic doesn't just work. It should be crisp, should be told with exact conviction with which the life of the protagonist was lived and only then it becomes a good film. Milkha Singh aka the Flying Sikh's biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag tries to achieve that excellence. Does it succeed? We tell you.
It all starts from Milkha Singh losing the only race in his entire life, that in Rome, Olympics in 1960. We are then taken to the time when Milkha Singh has already attained the success that he set out to achieve. But he refuses to run if sent to Pakistan, the country he detests. Three people, two of Singh's coaches and a messenger of Pandit Jawaharwal Nehru are sent to convince Singh to take part. The story then moves into series of intercutting of past and present where the coaches narrate the reason why Milkha is against running in Pakistan.
We all know that Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's (ROM) most ambitious venture BMB took almost two years for completion. We also know that Farhan Akhtar literally put his heart and soul in this project. But sadly, the film falls short in impressing even half as much as the efforts the latter has put.
It's clearly ROM's flawed and extremely stretched story-telling that kills any thrill there ever could be in Milkha Singh's real life story. Moreover, the over-dramatization of episodes from Singh's life which actually don't contribute to the story at all makes matters worse. There are way too many episodes converted into numerous sub-plots narrated through a non-linear narrative pattern which actually don't just hog up the run time but also lead to a tiring film.
Clocking three hours and eight minutes, BMB also gives you glimpses of Gadar, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar and Paan Singh Tomar, more like the latter for both the stories revolved around runners. So you have Milkha Singh taking part in athletics for Milk and Eggs and later finding it tough to adjust to shoes for he always ran bare feet clearly reminding you of Irrfan Khan of Paan Singh Tomar.
To add to the agony are the songs used aplenty, much worse, some in slow motion which clearly are forced into the film without any relevance. The songs are jarring and definitely don't add value to the movie.
Renowned cinematographer Binod Pradhan does a splendid job with the camera capturing certain sequences brilliantly however, it's ROM's drawback again for using those scenes in a gimmicky fashion.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag works only and only for Farhan Akhtar. The actor has raised the bar of acting to a whole new level and deserves to be lauded. Right from getting his physicality right to his diction, body language everything is remarkable.
Sonam Kapoor on the other hand barely has much to do and even at that her sub-plot just consumes a lot of time. The rest of the cast like Pavan Malhotra, Yograj Singh, Dalip Tahil are passable.
To sum it up, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is an extremely dramatised, glossy version of a biopic which fails to connect owing to its extensive run time and exaggeration.