His two landmark movies, Rang De Basanti and Delhi-6 explored the colourful milieu of Delhi.
And, filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra says it isn’t a mere co-incidence that the city features so much in his movies. “I love Delhi. It’s the place I grew up in and have deep attachment with. I may have to be in Mumbai for work, but I want to die in Delhi.”
The Delhi born and bred filmmaker adds, “All my stories are drawn from my life here. If you go back to Range De Basanti, its drawn from my life in SRCC. I grew up in Delhi 6, so my movie Delhi-6 was based on my experiences there.”
Interestingly, the same goes for his next film, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. “I have grown up listening to the legendary stories of Milkha Singh. I’ve myself been a chota-mota sportsman in school and college. The idea of Milkha Singh was planted in my heart somewhere from the stories I heard growing up. I wanted to share this amazing story with the world,” says Mehra.
Known for making films on unique subjects, the maverick filmmaker feels he is very ‘un-Bollywood’. “I don’t belong to Bollywood . My stories are very un-Bollywood. I don’t feel a part of that world.” But despite having such a powerful subject in his hands, Mehra found it hard to find producers for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag initially. “Nobody gave me money for this film. I had to sell my flat in Gurgaon in order to keep the movie afloat. I had to give up my 10-15 year’s savings. My wife also sold all her shares, just to sustain the movie,” says Mehra.
Actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar, who plays the title role in the film, was an unusual choice for the role. When asked how he zeroed in on Akhtar, Mehra says, “My instincts told me Farhan was the right choice. We auditioned a lot of actors, but I just saw Farhan’s eyes and knew he’s right for the role. I am very happy I chose Farhan.”