About 5/6 months back, I was watching a television channel. In an entertainment news programme it was being telecast about the forthcoming movie Bhaag Milka Bhaag. From then on I had determined to watch this upon its release.
I did not know much about Milkha Singh except that he was an athlete and known as the Flying Sikh. Due to the ignorance the entire 3 hour of the movie was very engaging.
The movie, a technological masterpiece portrays Milkha Singh in his varied colours. It projects different layers of problems and prospects that we as Indians, more especially as citizens of third world are tuned with. Sportsmen in this country, except cricket don’t find genuine patronage. So was the case with Milkha in his beginning years. He was a god gifted runner, but due to years of living in a refugee camp and in slums on the eve of India’s partition had prevented him from exposure. Only when he started serving with the Indian Army, his talent was noticed. But pity, he did not have proper equipments and facilities. He was running barefoot. But sheer determination, hard work and will power changed his fate.
Milkha Singh is a celebrity sportsman, but also a man likes any of us. He also fell in love with a girl he liked, and had desire for worldly pleasure. These personal aspects have been portrayed beautifully. But what moved my soul was the subtle portrayal of India-Pakistan relationship, which began with hatred and ended with love and peace.
During the partition, Milkha as a child had gone through immense trauma, both physically and mentally. He lost his parents and relatives in Pakistan from where he hailed in a conflict with Muslims. However, he was lucky to escape to India from the midst of the religious violence. In India he lived with his elder sister in a refugee camp for years in extreme poverty. But for a living he and his friends found a mean through lifting coals from running locomotive engines that ran through their locality.
It was Pundit Nehru’s vision, a friendship match between India and Pakistan to promote brotherhood and tolerance between the two countries. It fell on Milkha’s feet to conceptualize and implement Nehru’s idea. And in Pakistan, he was given the title, ‘the flying Sikh’. In a visit to Pakistan, where he was reluctant to go first also brought in his childhood memory alive. In the village he grew up, he met a childhood friend, who had become a Muslim. Through him he was told about the aftermath of the partition event. He was a Sikh, but after losing everyone, he was brought up by a Maulabi. In a conversation with Milkha, he shares – ‘people are not bad in general, it is the time that brings conflicts. After the time is passed, things become normal’. This is indeed a balm for ones who have passed through similar trauma in their lives.