By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: It is celebration time for the entire Bhaag Milkha Bhaag team.
While Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s biopic on the amazing life of runner Milkha Singh has become an all-India success with the total collections over the weekend being Rs. 33.35 crores, its impact seems to resonate far beyond the Flying Sikh’s homeland.
On Monday evening, Milkha Singh got a surprise call from American star-runner Carl Lewis who won 9 gold medals at the Olympics and reigned supreme in 100 metres, 200 metres and long jump in the 1980s.
Lewis, an all-time American great, had seen the Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and was deeply moved by the film.
Says a source from the film’s team, “Carl Lewis saw the film in the US. Though they are both superstars in their own countries, Carl and Milkha Singh had never spoken before. Carl somehow got hold of Milkhaji’s Chandigarh number. The call was completely unexpected.Milkhaji was deeply moved by this unexpected gesture of appreciation from a fellow-athlete from so far away.”
Confirming the story, firlm director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra says, “Yes, Carl Lewis indeed rang up Milkha Singh after seeing the film. We all hoped Milkhaji’s life-story would make an inspirational impact. But we never imagined the impact would be so widespread.”
The film’s co-producer Viacom 18’s COO Ajit Adhare says, “This is not a film. It’s a movement. Rarely do we get a film that goes beyond entertainment. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag addresses itself to that part of the individual which needs to be harnessed and tapped for a full identity to emerge. How many films can you watch with your parents and your children and just be proud to be an Indian? After Lagaan and Rang De Basanti, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag has that kind of an impact.”
I am sure Carl Lewis would agree.