Anyways, it’s heartening to see a film based on one of the most famous sportspersons during our childhood – Milkha Singh. But it is extremely disappointing that even though the film was made under his watchful eye, in the end the director had to write “Inspired from real life” and not “Based on real life”, and there is a huge difference between the two.
When I went to see this movie, I thought that this was about Milkha Singh the runner, the legend.. Turns out, it’s about Milkha Singh, the person, the bereaved. And that’s where some of the problems of the film lie. The other problems mostly lie with the director’s excesses.
Is it mandatory that every film that is metaphorically an Epic has to be long? Why can’t it be a short, crisp retelling of someone’s life? If it’s Milkha Singh, the legendary runner’s life, why not tell us the inspiring parts of his career? Why focus on his childhood and turn it into a partition drama? So much so that going to Pakistan becomes the cornerstone of the film, rather than him breaking the world record.
Mr.Mehra after the disaster Dilli-6 is back to familiar ground. Yes, the film is told exactly in the same way he told Rang De Basanti. The film cuts into colored flashback, then flashbacks within flashbacks (sepia flashback) and then comes back to the colored today! And sometimes it’s just wasteful meandering. This back and forth becomes tedious in the second half and really you want the film to start sauntering along.
The first half takes off quickly as you see Milkha losing the biggest race of his life. Just before you know it, he refuses to go to Pakistan. Why do you ask? Well, if the film length was not enough to warn you, Pawan Malhotra reinforces “That’s a very long story!!!” Then he starts narrating it so systematically that you see every grain of sand whirling, every drop of sweat falling! The unfortunate part is when it all ends you know that this could have been narrated much quicker.
Make no mistake, for all its failings this film is an amazing product. Farhan Akhtar gets into the shoes of Milkha Singh with such aplomb that you start living, breathing, laughing, dancing, running with him. The shy Farhan of Kartik Calling Kartik is gone and so is the Casanova Farhan of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. He is Milkha Singh and his performance alone keeps your eyes riveted to the screen. And then there is Jr.Milkha, who does an excellent job of playing the child that suffers the ignominy of watching his family being killed. It’s these performances that lift the film from the burden the director puts on the audience.
Mr.Mehra seriously needed a pair of scissors. Yes, every frame that he has shot is beautiful, but he just got a little over-cautious while editing. The screenplay is deliberately slow and while the first half is impactful, the film loses grip in the second half. The background score is awesome and Shankar-Ehsan-Loy give an inspired collection of songs. All of them are uplifting and really give the film the requisite impact. Yes, Mr.Mehra could have slashed a couple of songs, but well, he doesn’t.
All in all, BMB is an extremely well made film, which suffers from its overzealous director. But I would give it a couple of extra stars just for the fact that he chooses Sonam Kapoor as the heroine, but hardly gives her any dialogue and then even better, just cuts her off from the story! Brilliant. So if you haven’t watched it yet, you should definitely. But remember, for all its talk about running, the film is thoda sprint and bahut saaraa jogging.
Rating: 7/10 ( Because it's miles ahead of the ordinary drivel we get day in day out. )