Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (ROM): Sheer Brilliance
Farhan Akhtar: Pure physical strength as an athlete and 110% talent as an actor
With that out of the way, I will start with the one and only thing that I felt could deter the success of this film, and that’s the length. At 187 minutes ‘running time’ (pun intended), it is a medium paced drama that unfolds at reasonable pace. Not one scene or act or song is extra or un-required, but it may seem long for the majority of audiences.
ROM does what he does best, weaving history with cinema in a way that presents a time capsule to us, authentic and un-adulterated. ROM was a national level swimmer, and represented India in the 1982 Asian games, so he is no stranger to feeling the tension and excitement of the ‘games environment’. He has translated that wonderfully on to the screen, keeping in the mind how different the era was at that time.
The journey of the ‘Flying Sikh’, played wonderfully by the young Milkha and carried forward with a towering performance by Farhan, make this film a ‘record’ of sorts. From his humble beginnings, to the scar of partition, to growing up and proving himself, the audience is always with Milkha and watching him at the same time. We develop this relationship of an unsaid mentor, guide or spectator, wishing we could somehow change his path. But he always surprises us with his choices, doing the unsaid, treading the unknown, challenging himself beyond measure and the rest, is of course, history.
Perhaps the misfit in this film was Sonam Kapoor, but her presence doesn’t hamper the film in anyway, and ROM has managed to get a performance out of her too.
Divya Dutta, Prakash Raj, Yograj Singh, Pawan Malhotra, Dalip Tahil and a host of other actors have very well written characters. It would be wrong to say they support the story, as they are in some way part of Milkha himself, not only his journey. So in this respect lets call them extensions of the main character, which rarely happens in movies.
The camera work to shoot a sport like running can get repetitive, but they have paid attention to make sure the angles and shots are different and unique. The cinematography, especially in the scenes where he is training, is breath taking. The music is appropriate for the energy and circumstance of the many events depicted in the film.
I know this review is ‘running a little long’, but as you will realise once you see it, its hard to do justice to it in few words. I thought about who else could play Milkha, and there is no one in our industry who can do so, the way Farhan did. He was a revelation with his many facets, but his most prized was definitely the grit and determination he conveyed WITHOUT the use of his startling physique. He got across the madness, the religious discipline and the many small moments and misdemeanours, which Milkha himself would have come across.
I went with a Bollywood enthusiast who watches 2 films a year, and he wanted this to be one of them, so that should say something. Run to the closest cinema to you, this is one film which will inspire you.
– Milkha sold his story for 1 rupee to ROM
– Apparently, Sonam was paid 11 rupees for her role (too much, but hey the girl needs to shop!
– ROM purchased Milkha’s original shoes which he won the Olympic games with, for 41000 USD and gifted them to Farhan