The other day, my niece came to me asking if I would take her to the cineplex to watch the movie, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. I pondered over her little request. Had her teacher talked about Milkha Singh and his achievements in school? Is the life story on Milkha Singh prescribed in her school syllabus? Had she heard of him from friends or their parents or her parents? Her curiosity to watch the movie on the Flying Sikh left me perplexed. What does the modern generation know about Milkha Singh?
It was no surprise when my seven-year-old niece excitedly announced the date of the movie's release. How eager she is to watch Farhan Akhtar's new movie! So it was Farhan Akhtar not Milkha Singh she was going to watch. She admitted to having a crush on Farhan so there was no question of missing any of his movies.
I thought so what if my niece was going to the cineplex only to watch Farhan. While watching him on screen she would also learn about Milkha Singh and his achievements. Through the movie, she would get to know more about the recipient of India's civilian honour for his achievements in sports. Milkha Singh was awarded the Padma Shri after he clocked 45.60 seconds in a 400m race to finish fourth in the summer Olympics of 1960, and made history.
The team of 'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag' would be glad if they get successful in making today's generation aware not only about Milkha Singh but also about the struggle and perseverance that he went through since the tragic death of his parents during India's painful Partition.
I vividly remember the stories my grandparents would narrate about Milkha Singh - how he ran during Partition to save his life; how hard he would run early in the morning in his youth preparing for championships; while practising in the cold, he would not stop until his nose started to bleed!
His were the days when there was no amazing technology in the field of sports. I wonder whether Milkha would prefer running in the open than on a treadmill in the gym? If given a choice, would he opt for power yoga or run in an open ground in the summer heat? Could he have done better than clocking 45.60 seconds during the Rome Olympics if his pair of shoes were as those available to athletes in modern times? I'm eager, as much as my niece, to watch the movie on him to get the answers.
I am also eager to see what the present generation has to say after coming out of the movie hall. Will they have seen just another Farhan movie or will it be an inspiring experience?
People of Milkha Singh's generation are aware about his feat but what about our youth, the fourth generation since his time? Will my niece also take pride in knowing Milkha Singh after watching her crush play the role of the Flying Sikh? Will she remember him for the rest of her life and pass on his story to the next generation? Or will this be just another successful movie of a brilliant actor?