It’s the clash of a different kind. Paan Singh Tomar and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, two films on Indian athletes, have been making news for various reasons. First, the announcement of the release date of the Irrfan Khan-starrer during the pre-release publicity of Farhan Akhtar’s project came as a surprise considering Paan Singh Tomar was completed a while back.
Then, it was reported that UTV Motion Pictures (makers of Paan Singh Tomar) pulled out of Milkha Singh’s biopic because their film on another athlete was releasing soon. And now, even as Bhaag Milkha Bhaag director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra is likely to be shot in Pakistan, UTV plans to release their film in the neighbouring country as well.
“Since Paan Singh Tomar has a universal theme (of sportsmen being neglected and their bad condition), it will click anywhere. But UTV is keen to release it in Pakistan because athletes there face similar problems. So, they are confident that the audience will relate to the film,” says an industry insider. Although the release date isn’t fixed yet, it might release simultaneously in Pakistan and India release or open there a little later. When contacted, UTV officials confirm the news.
“Paan Singh Tomar is inspired from the real-life story of a farmer-turned-National Champion and runner-turned-rebel. We are still working on the release plan of the movie and exploring the possibility of releasing the film in Pakistan,” says Amrita Pandey, senior VP (international distribution and syndication), UTV Motion Pictures.
While Milkha Singh’s exploits aren’t a secret, Paan Singh, from a small town of Madhya Pradesh, joined Bengal Engineers to escape poverty. He then became a runner and won the steeplechase event at the National Games for seven years in a row. Later, he gave up running and his post as a subedar in the Army, and went on to become a rebel creating havoc in the Chambal Valley.