Bhaag Milkha Bhaag - Review

wogma rating: Buy the DVD already (?)
quick review:

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is indeed long. It is a typical sports story too. But, it keeps you in your seat all along with moments of victory and failure, of course but also with moments of emotion and introspection.

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Wogma Review

The audience goes "oooh", "aaah", and "woohoo" with every up and down that Milkha Singh goes through, in the first five minutes itself. And my heart goes along too. Yes, it is long. Yes, it has songs. Yes, it is dramatized, even over-dramatized at times. Except for the songs, all of it works for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Oh and yes, it is predictable too. But, then isn't that fact predictable in the first place? It is a true life story after all.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag makes a deliberate effort to balance between telling an inspirational story and not making it a boring History lesson. With the number of slow motion scenes and choreographed, lip-sync songs the makers might have gone a little overboard in trying to keep things interesting. Sure, if Bhaag Mllkha Bhaag were told as a "He came. He Ran. He conquered." story, it might have made for better cinema. But, would the risk of Milkha Singh's spirit reaching out to a smaller audience been worth it? So, this once, if having Milkha Singh dance while tapping his buttocks is what it takes, so be it.

I am sure writer, Prasoon Joshi must have thought long and hard over what was left out of Milkha Singh's story and what was added. It is a shame that typical Farhan Akhtar-style PJs (Poor Joke) found their way in. From having seen him as himself on TV shows, the jokes instantly reminded me it was Farhan Akhtar I am watching.

It took away from the otherwise gripping performance. Yeah, his accent doesn't flow naturally, it comes across as trained. His diction is slightly distracting - as it is when he speaks Hindi or English too. But, Farhan Akhtar smiles his charming smile to endear Milkha Singh to you. The upper teeth jutting forward give it, what I assume, a Milkha touch. You sense Milkha's pain and determination. You want him to go easy on himself when he heaves and pants. And you want him to win.

Divya Dutta and Pawan Malhotra add the much needed layers to Milkha Singh's personality than Milkha Singh himself. Their characters' aspirations and pride show through in the couple of emotional scenes between each one of them and Milkha Singh. Divya Dutta is easily one of the most under-rated actors in Hindi films. Jabtej Singh as young Milkha too gets you to feel his pain, despair and courage.

On the other hand, Sonam Kapoor does her usual do as Neeru. She's stiff and looks like she's making a style statement with her salwar suits and hair curls. She has such little impact that you feel you have seen a lead lady in the film for the first time when Rebecca Breeds comes on screen as Stella. Similarly, Prakash Raj as the comic relief didn't work for me either, as in he acted well, but the comedy seemed a little off for the film.

If there is one thing you can tell about Indian men from what was going on, on screen and in the audience is that it takes as little as either a few bikini-clad or non-Indian women to excite them. Anyway, as discomforting as that was, from Neeru to Stella to Perizad (Meesha Shafi) they all exist to show Milkha Singh's priority - his work. The little time spent on Milkha Singh's transition from one woman to another tell's you about the makers' focus too - Milkha Singh and his training.

I've always had a problem with the little time spent on the athlete's training in a sports film, or for that matter the minimal time that any underdog takes to come up to speed in a film. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is more than satisfying in that respect. Milkha Singh gets long and strenuous training sessions from the director, enough for you to beg for his mercy on Milkha Singh's behalf.

Another huge section of the film is the flashbacks into Milkha Singh's childhood and especially the partition of 1947. The sequences are a little too over-stylized for the era that they are set in. But, they are styled well. The editing, the transitions, the interspersing are all pretty slick and thus end up giving those bits a contemporary feel. Again, if that's what it takes to keep more people interested, so be it. The non-linear narration also keeps you absorbed.

As you stay engaged, you realise that this is not about one athlete or one victim of the partition. Taking nothing away from how special Milkha Singh's achievements were to the country, especially in those times, almost any athlete will have stories of his roots and hardwork worth narrating. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is as much a salute to them as it is to the man himself. It is as much a tribute to the millions of partition victims who suffered and sustained as it is about how unfair his life was.

You also wonder if the situation, especially of athletes, has really improved today. In fact, from the couple of cases I know, our non-star athletes have it worse now. The conditions they have to sustain in, the politics and corruption involved is mind-boggling. Subtly, the film also tells you how our soldiers, our protectors, have it worse than our athletes. It doesn't dwell too much on it, because the core of the film is Milkha Singh's spirit.

I want my kids to watch Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and I recommend you take yours too (Please read Parental Guidance section for details on Violent and Sexual content). Not only for the film's potential to inspire, but also to sensitize them to parts of our history that are terrifying. Even more terrifying is that it is being forgotten and taken for granted. Kids know the partition, at best, as a story - India got freedom; India was divided; millions of people were displaced. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag gives them a glimpse of what a kid their age went through. And of course, it's also important they see how he persevered through hardships that they cannot even imagine. It's our job then, to have them extrapolate it to the millions who suffered.

So, this time around I'll take the little ones to the theater, not for the beauty of seeing life on screen, but for the beauty of a life or many.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Fist fights. A couple of gory violent scenes.
  • Language: Abusive language silenced off. Not too much of it, anyway.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A making out scene. A couple of lip-to-lip kisses. A couple of scenes where sex without consent is implied.
  • Concept: A dramatized version of an inspirational story of one of India's best athletes.
  • General Look and Feel: Grainy and given the aged look for the 50s setting.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3.5
  • Story: 3.5
  • Lead Actors: 4
  • Character Artists: 3.5
  • Dialogues: 3
  • Screenplay: 3
  • Music Director: 4
  • Lyrics: 3.5

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag - Movie Details

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag - Trailer

If you cannot see a video above, click here to see it on YouTube

Comments (36)

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Anuj:

Farhan doesn't look like a sikh,can't talk like one and doesn't have the physique of one...i guess we're in for yet another damp squib girl :P

Pradeep:

@Anuj: Just notice your interesting comment. But I guess he doesn't really have to look, talk and have a physique like a Sikh. He just has to look, talk and have a physique like Mr. Milkha Singh. I think he has done a commendable job of matching the physicality of Milkha Singh. The promos suggest a striking resemblance. Also, Farhan is known for being a method actor who devotes himself entirely to the characters he plays. So the film might just be a decent watch.

Anuj:

@Pradeep : I can't quite think of anyone in bollywood right now who can portray a young Milkha Singh with elan (Akshay in his youth would have been a good choice). So ya,maybe you're right with your last statement!

meetu:

@Anuj for me it's working right now. The rest we'll know soon enough ;)

Shivani:

Loved this trailer. Farhan Akhtar usually is great (though I am not a fan) so looking forward to this one.

Anuj:

@Meetu : One thing's for sure. Whatever Farhan does will definitely be 2-3 notches higher than the over-rated and media created "youth icon" Ranbir Kapoor :P

meetu:

@Shivani yeah, you don't have to be a fan to like his films. :D

@anuj There is enough room for both, I say.

Reviewer:

I had enjoyed watching Paan singh tomar(2010) which was based on same niche.

After watching the trailer of this(Bhaag Milkha Bhaag)movie it seems really entertaining :)

Anuj:

Looks good after the songs...though looks more like an out and out commercial entertainer than a biopic...Paan Singh was a real biopic in the true sense.This one's just gonna be a good commercial film i guess!

Dattaprasad Godbole:

I was sold by the Pawan Malhotra's line about Athlete's Coat - "aisi nahi milta, ise kamana padta hain." Aur kuchh nahi toh main woh line dekhne ke liye movie me jaaunga.

meetu:

@anuj :D

@Dattaprasad Among other things :)

Anup:

MEETU - u have said ,, music havnt worked correctly,,,,but u have given 4 out 5 stars for that
!!!!!!!!

meetu:

@Anup The music by itself to listen to is good. It lengthens the film a little much and diverts from the story, so doesn't work as a part of the film.

Ka Jo:

A good review that will make any reader go and watch the movie. I wanted to watch the movie but now I desperately want to watch it.
Here are some other reason why I want to watch this movie:
http://drkaustubhjoshi.blogspot.in/2013/07/bhag-milkha-bhag.html

Anil:

What's wrong with the rating, just because it's a story of a national hero doesn't make it a good movie.

I seriously felt let down by the movie and how the story was developed.

meetu:

@Ka Jo Thank you!

meetu:

@Anil Oh. There was more to the film than just being about a national hero. But, I can imagine why you were let down, there were a lot of things that distracted. Not to mention, the expectations were sky high.

Karthik:

Last week it was Lootera and this week it is Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Bollywood matching up the standards of their Hollywood counterpart. Seeing the debacle of Policegiri, watch out Salman!

Karthik:

Awesome review for an awesome movie!

Anup:

This movie is easily the best movie of this year,,,,the whole 3 hour and 8 min of the movie will tie u up with ur seat,,,,just the song o rangrezz according to me was bad in the movie as it cuts the flow of the movie,,,,farhan was awsome,,,,no one could have done this better....

VjMOVIEws:

Tagged a biopic by its team, BMB awfully looks like a movie laced with best of the commercial treatments Bollywood garnishes its offerings with to satiate the cravings of masala movie lovers. It is everything but a serious cinema on the life of an unsung Hero, Milkha Singh.

BMB should outrightly be dismissed as an overly hyped and a well marketed movie. I pity for movies like Paan Singh Tomar which was made at a meager budget of Rs. 4 crore (compared to Rs. 30 crore of BMB) and had all the right ingredients for a biopic but couldt appeal to masses. Atlast, movies like BMB reassure the fact that we still have a lot more Indian sportsperson(P.T Usha, M.S Dhoni) whose stories are waiting to be told on Celluloid in a much more somber and sincere manner.

Read full review at www.vjmoviews.com

Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 2.5
Story: 3
Lead Actors: 3
Character Artists: 2

Dialogues: 2
Screenplay: 2
Music Director: 2
Lyrics: 2

meetu:

@Karthik Thanks!

@Anup :D Actually all songs were a bit misplaced according to me. I'd like to see a songless version and see how it feels.

@Suman Ouch...You've given the film a thumbs up, though? You didn't like the music at all?

Rachit Gupta:

Good return to form Meetu.... I guess only a good movie can inspire such brilliant writing above... Very well written review... I am actually excited to see this... Going tomorrow ... Hope it lives upto the expectations!!!

Anup:

in my view mera yaaar was good,,to show the origin of love of milkha singh,,,,and zinda could have been on place of title track when milkha got hard traning,,,,rest of the songs are not so important

meetu:

Thanks @Rachit! :) And let us know what you thought.

Suman:

only one song is good bhaag milkha rock ver. and others are ok ..zinda, mera yaar...
... movie is good but over-the-top and melodramatic :(
i gave it -thumbs up- only for farhan akhtar...

Mohammad farooq:

For the dedication of Farhan, inspiration of Milkha and for bringing back the athletic spirit, I’m going with a 4.5/5. Don’t miss this biopic. http://reveringthoughts.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/bhaag-milkha-bhaag-my-review/

Anuj:

Scintillating,pulsating and gripping!Definitely the best movie of 2013 so far and a very refreshing change from the bogus romantic stories that have gone on to become big "hits" of 2013.A bit melodramatic nevertheless,yet i'd rate it 3.5/5 for the sheer intensity of Farhan's performance.This lad's a natural talent.Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's back and how,7 years since the epic RDB and 4 years since the disaster called Delhi 6!

Rachit Gupta:

There are times when a movie trips over the weight of its viewers expectations... For me thankfully BMB delivers and goes beyond... It was an experience.... The movie isn't about winning or losing or about jingoism... It's about fighting your inner demons.... Hard work....catharsis and closure... For any number of ways or paths he could have chosen he channeled his angst into something positive... And a word about Divya Dutta... I think she towers above everyone in the film with a performance this nuanced!!!

meetu:

@Suman Yeah, I could've done with fewer songs in the film. Wouldn't mind listening to them otherwise though :D

@Mohammad :D will read the review.

@Anuj I didn't mind Delhi 6 that much. But it's cool when a director takes his time to bring his next film. Makes it dearer :D

@Rachit Agree! Especially about Divya Dutta. She is just brilliant.

Anuj:

@Meetu : Delhi 6 was an unbearably slow and pointless movie with no head or tail in it. The only people who seemed to have liked it were the critics :P

Anuj:

On a different note,we have another star in the making in Farhan Akhtar the actor.Yet all the media wants to project is the extremely over-rated and mediocre Ranbir Kapoor! I can understand young college girls and middle aged ladies being smitten by his so-called charm but am still wondering what was so "Epic" about Rockstar and Barfi!

Samir Singh:

A biopic only in the broadest sense of the word. There is a good movie somewhere there amidst the Punjabi Yokel love story,the by-the-numbers coming of age of the athlete, the India-Pak rivalry and not to forget--the kitchen sink!
In one scene, the pilot of the plane (played by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra) says that there was someone else piloting the plane. How apt! Perhaps it was the guy who had directed 'Aks'.
Very disappointing(and tedious) fare.

meetu:

@Anuj Oh no! Not the Ranbir bashing again! :D

@Samir ouch! But, yeah I'd want to watch Aks all over again.

Reema:

I think Sonam's character name was Biro not Neeru.

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