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.