Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, was the research worth it?


Theatrical Poster of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. (Wikipedia)

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag as a movie not merely charmed the audiences but it also managed to strike a chord with the critics, something which is quite extraordinary when compared to the lasting trend in Bollywood ie the Hindi Film Industry. So far, the movie has managed to garner over 100 crore rupees at the box office which is worthy enough of being called a statistical spectacle.

Over the past one decade, sports as a film genre has been portrayed quite consistently on the big screen. We’ve had a number of film productions including Lagaan, Iqbal and Chak De India which managed to pull off a double whammy in terms of commercial and critical success. On the other hand, some experiments like that of Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal and Patiala House not only left the critics fuming but also failed to generate any buzz at the Box Office.

Coming back to the core issue, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag as a movie has got governmental recognition. Various state governments including that of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi have exempted the movie from being subjected to any kind of entertainment tax. Such steps of these state governments can be viewed as forms of moral compensation in a nation which has a habit of ignoring all sporting greats besides the ones who are a by-product of the game of cricket.

Taking into account the recognition which Bhaag Milkha Bhaag has received, one would certainly think very highly of the movie in terms of research since it is a sort of a biography, if not an entirely original one. However, the team behind Bhaag Milkha Bhaag has committed a very small yet significant error during the course of the movie. The error in itself is meaningless but it raises quite a few fundamental questions which more or less make us believe that Indian filmmakers are indeed very causal researchers.

The said error occurs when the movie is nearing its killer moment. Milkha Singh is in Pakistan to compete against Pakistani athletes in a goodwill tournament which has been organized by the Government of Pakistan in collaboration with the Government of India. As the final race is about to begin, various individuals including Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Milkha Singh’s sister tune in the radio to follow the developments in Lahore live. The radio commentator can be heard as announcing, “It seems that entire Pakistan has settled inside the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.”

Err, what did you say? Gaddafi Stadium? This race was supposedly held shortly after the 1960 Rome Olympics. There was no place called Gaddafi Stadium at that time in Lahore. The Lahore Stadium which was originally built in 1959 was renamed after Libyan Dictator Muamar Gaddafi in the year 1974. If we historically trace the sequence of events, this race would have allegedly taken place when Gaddafi was in his twenties, his date of birth being in 1940. What is worse is that Gaddafi would have been a nobody at that point in time since the coup in Libya (which Gaddafi was a part of) took place in 1969.

The incorrect usage of the “Gaddafi stadium” is not only comical but it shows how even intelligent filmmakers like Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra show no concern for historical events during the narration of their movie’s plot. It is one thing to dress up events in order to create necessary “movie masala” but to refer some place by a name which was non-existent at the occurrence of the said event is pure stupidity and dumbness.