Delhi-6 (2009) didn’t get the box-office reaction filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra may have expected, but that hasn’t stopped him from going all out for his newest film, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (BMB) that stars Farhan Akhtar and Sonam Kapoor.
The Rang De Basanti (RDB, 2006) director is doing all he can to make BMB a blockbuster of a movie, and has already completed 60 per cent of the film.
It took Mehra and his team of six researchers three years to pull together BMB’s storyline. “Research is of two kinds — primary and secondary,” explains Mehra. “When I made RDB, the research was mostly secondary because I had to go back in history.
Whereas with BMB, the research was primary because, thankfully, Milkha Singh is among us.”
He adds, “For close to two years, we spent a week every month with Milkha Singh in Chandigarh. We spoke to people he knew, some of his contemporaries, people who’ve lived through the 1950s. We did all of this rather than just read about him. And we tried to understand the sport of athletics.”
Selecting Farhan to play Milkha’s role was an instinctive decision, says Mehra. “I thought he would be the best choice, and I think I was right,” he says, adding, “Farhan has worked very hard to understand this role. It took a while, but he understood Milkha’s emotional journey, which helped him attain the look for the character. Looking back at all we’ve done, I feel I could write a book on this one day.”
BMB will also be his second film with Sonam. “I hope I do many more films with her. She’s a great person, very talented and each time you discover something new about her. She responds extremely well to direction,” says Mehra, who is also one of the mentors at an IIFA workshop that will be conducted at the forthcoming award ceremony.