As the country woke up to the demise of the legendary athlete Milkha Singh, it hit me hard. I was introduced to him through the biopic made on his inspiring and one-of-a-kind life, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and I remember being moved by it. This biopic was different from any other sports-themed film. It blended the personal struggles with the professional setbacks in a beautiful way. It led me to root for the triumph of Milkha Singh in sporting events, and I also wanted him to be able to get rid of the heavy emotional baggage. This film educated audiences about his background, his career in the military and some of his greatest feats as an Indian athlete.
What I didn't expect from the biopic, even back when I watched it for the first time, was that it would use so much screen time to show the miseries families faced during the partition. It also dealt with the tough emotions felt by Milkha Singh with utmost sincerity. I am glad that the film decided to dive into different aspects of his life rather than just sticking to running tracks. Kudos to Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for creating this film with honesty and respect for the man as a whole.
The film took its time to build on the emotions. The relationship between Milkha Singh and his sister was so endearing. We could feel the pain she felt being with an abusive husband and the urge Milkha felt to give her the happiness she deserved. Their bond was touching and to think about it brings a smile on my face. Thus, today the void feels bigger.
This biopic was one of Farhan Akhtar's greatest performances ever. Not only did he work on his physicality but he also touched the right emotional chords to make the character come alive and do justice to the man. The film boosted the genre of "sports biopics" in a pathbreaking way. However, I will always remember it as a great and humble ode to the legend himself, Milkha Singh.
I am sure the flame of excellence in sports that was lit by Milkha Singh will be carried forward and the world will continue to remember him as the 'Flying Sikh'.