Bhaag Milkha Bhaag races to finish line

Published: July 12, 2013
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Farhan Akhtar as Milkha. PHOTO: FILE

Farhan Akhtar as Milkha. PHOTO: FILE

The Farhan Akhtar-starrer Bhaag Milkha Bhaag [BMB], a tale of perseverance and courage that has won the critics and public over in India, has no hope of being released in Pakistan. The film is based on the life of Indian athlete Milkha Singh, who was given the title of “Flying Sikh”. The title was given to Singh by our former president Ayub Khan.

Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra had earlier spoken to the press about the numerous offers he received from distributors in Pakistan. But as the movie released worldwide on July 12,  it has been confirmed that it will not make it to Pakistani screens anytime soon. While distributors were reluctant to import the film due to the slump of the business in Ramazan, some disclosed, on condition of anonymity, that they were hesitant since BMB has controversial dialogues about Pakistan.

Here is a compilation of BMB reviews, so you can know what you’re missing!

Mehra is brilliant at his craft; he infuses realism into drama, and explores characters so deeply and sensitively through tragedy and triumph, that it sparks an emotional deluge. The movie transitions from flashback sepia tones to moods of present, without losing the grip of emotions, ever.

Cinematography is ace (Binod Pradhan); the music (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) heightens the drama. Prasoon’s writing is powerful, lyrics are pure poetry and emotions robustly sweep the scenes with few dialogues. While there’s a lot to marvel at, a hint of the director’s over-indulgence in the art results in a long ‘runtime’ and prolonged scenes that distract.

Farhan is fantastic! He peeps through Milkha’s core to essay this role. With an awe-inspiring body, grit and guts, he puts blood and sweat into Milkha. He races like an athlete, breaks into bhangra like a proud sardar and shows prowess of a Punjab-da-sher. In a brief role, Sonam prettily breezes through. Pavan and Divya (Singh’s sisters) are outstanding. Overall, ‘BMB’ pulsates with the storyteller’s sheer passion all the way to the finish line.

Madhureeta Mukherjee, Times of India

There’s no denying that Mehra has an ear for superior melody and the soundtrack of his previous films, Rang De Basanti and Delhi 6, bear testimony to the fact. However, this time, Mehra opts for Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. This one’s a plot-motivated movie; consequently, the songs cater more to the situations than creating a sound-rich album. Binod Pradhan’s cinematography is of international grade. He captures every beat, every tone, and every nuance with mastery.

A handful of films sprint that extra mile beyond providing meager entertainment to its spectators. BMB is one such cinematic experience. However, director Mehra and writer Prasoon Joshi encompass pertinent episodes/chapters from the icon’s life and create a film that makes you salute the sportsperson, besides evoking the spirit of nationalism in the spectator.

On the whole, BMB is sure to win accolades, admiration, respect and esteem, besides emerging as a champ. Reserve the applause for Milkha Singh and the team behind BMB. Give it a standing ovation!

Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama

The much anticipated BMB is anything but the film that Milkha Singh deserves. Milkha was a Partition refugee who lost his parents in the riots. He discovered his métier after years of struggle. His sturdy spirit, forged in the fire of life, found expression on the athletics track in ways that remain unparalleled in India to this day.

Instead of presenting Milkha as the sporting hero that he was for a newly-independent nation seeking its place in the world, the film positions him as an emblem of nationalistic fervour when he is pitted him against Pakistan’s Abdul Khaliq, who was regarded at the height of his career as the fastest man in Asia.

It is a pity that BMB, despite being about the life and career of one of India’s greatest sporting achievers, never makes for the kind of compelling viewing that it would have been had it relied solely on the drama inherent in the hero’s singular struggle against all odds instead of overlaying it with extraneous narrative trappings.

Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV

Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Babloo
    Jul 12, 2013 - 9:38PM

    This is the reason why it will be banned in Pakistan.

    Mr Milkha Singhs entire family, his parents, siblings, except one sister, died in partition riots in Pakistan.

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  • Jul 13, 2013 - 1:18AM

    @babloo no because because we are not interested in seeing that crap!!

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  • Hussain Syed
    Jul 13, 2013 - 11:29AM

    @sarah raza: Why? Because it’s Indian? Why don’t you grow up.

    Isn’t Meesha Shafi in this movie?

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  • indi
    Jul 13, 2013 - 11:44AM

    or is it coz u have had enough of crap already after watching “main hoon shahid afridi ” …. LOL

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  • Punjaagi
    Jul 13, 2013 - 4:07PM

    @indi: Naah because we have had enough crap after watching ghanchakkar and raanjhana… lol… it’s the kinda crap that bores the crap outta crap…

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  • Mr T
    Jul 13, 2013 - 4:09PM

    Typical indian rant… show anti Pakistan scenes and dialogues… then start crying that there is nothing anti Pakistan in their films… haha…

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  • gp65
    Jul 13, 2013 - 4:10PM

    It is sad that the film had to depend on anti Pakistan sentiments to show his patriotism. His devotion to the sport and his hardships should have been enough to make this a compelling film. Indian filmmakers need to grow up.

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  • Naveen
    Jul 14, 2013 - 2:04AM

    @gp65:
    Given the sickening reason (and this is coming from a Liberal Indian who has always wished to have good ties with Pakistan) cited by Pakistan Censor Board for banning Raanjhana and the one sided view peddled by Pakistan’s state sanctioned textbooks, I think it would be a little bit too rich to blame private Indian film makers for depicting the real life & emotions of another private individual -Milkha Singh, in its full glory. It is high time both Pakistanis and Indians acknowledge that both sides took active part in the horrendous genocides that accompanied Partition and those events had a profound impact on shaping (or damaging) the psyche of one whole generation (if not more) on both sides of the border. Sugarcoating such stuff doesn’t serve anybody’s purpose . As they say, Acknowledgement is the first step to recovery.

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  • someone
    Jul 14, 2013 - 9:24PM

    @sarah raza:
    Yeah, and you deserve highly acclaimed movies like voti leka jani hai and Gandasa and other highly relevant movies churned out by your talented film industry.

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  • Vinnie
    Jul 15, 2013 - 3:16AM

    @gp65: Dude, download and watch the movie. There’s not even a single Anti-Pak dialogue in the movie. All that he said in the movie was that he wouldn’t want to visit the placed again where he lost his parents (I don’t think it becomes Anti-Pakistani to talk about families who lost their lives in partition).

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