Farhan Akhtar is upbeat about his new movie, Bhaag Milka Bhaag. Inspired by real life events, the actor says he has gotten into the skin of the character he portrays, Olympic hero Milka Singh.
An Indian athlete besieged by personal tragedies, the film tells the catastrophic spate of events Milkha Singh was confronted with during his lifetime as a sprinter and as an individual.
In a telephone interview, Farhan Akhtar shared the true spirit of the formidable runner and the spark that marked his debut into acting.
Milkha Singh, also called 'The Flying Sikh' by Field Marshall and former president of Pakistan Ayub Khan, was a story waiting to be told.
"I'm extremely inspired by the sportsman and the events of his life. When I first heard about Milkha Singh from director Rakesh Omprakash Mehra, I was really amazed," said Farhan, who described the partition as the lowest point in history.
The bloody civil war was a personal tragedy to Milkha, whose family was brutally killed during the violent and tumultuous India-Pakistan Partition era, which resulted in a lost childhood, homelessness, and a life of struggle for the real life hero.
Many recall Milkha Singh as a world champion runner in the 400 metres, who infamously lost the penultimate race of his life — the 400 metres final at the Rome Olympics — but won in an even greater race of 'life'— through his struggles.
"The movie and character are completely based on his life," stated Farhan, and says it depicts the twenty odd years of the sportsman in his truest spirit.
"The movie has not been treated as a documentary by the director or the scriptwriter, though all effort has been made to capture the essence of Milkha Singh's struggle, and this spirit has been incorporated into the film," he added.
On life outside the screen, Farhan says he has been one who followed his instincts. "I listen to my inner voice, be it to anything, and I just hope to have the freedom to follow it.
" Farhan's first movie may have never been released, but it was the much needed spark to make him believe he could act, he admits. A director, screenwriter, singer, and producer, the actor has excelled in all avenues.
Not many know his first acting stint was in his dear friend Anandpur Surapur's movie, Fakir of Venice (2005), although he had assisted with direction in movies such as Lamhe (1991) and Himalay Putra (1997), and made his directorial debut with Dil Chahta Hai (2001) before he made a foray into acting.
His first movie, Fakir of Venice, was again inspired by true events and was a comedy-drama in English and Hindi about a con man hired to find a fakir, (played by Annu Kapoor) who plans on burying himself in sand, as part of an installation art project in Venice.
He passes off as a poor slum dweller from Bombay as the real thing, successfully conning the European art world. "It was a story of strange relationships and, unfortunately, the movie was never released because of production issues,'' disclosed Farhan, who then went on to act in Rock On, which marked his entry into acting.
His next movie is Shaadi Ke Side-Effects, a romantic comedy directed by Saket Chaudhary, and a sequel to Pyar Ke Side Effects. It is due for release in 2013.The plot: Bhaag
Farhan Akhtar takes his character, Milkha Singh, to the limit when, as a boy, he enlists into the Indian Army.
The young Milkha learns some of life's most important lessons from the ustaad (teacher) assigned to his platoon, expertly played by Prakash Raj.
The subedaar (lieutenant) instills courage into Milkha, developing his human spirit. It is during his army days that Milkha learns of perseverance, hard work and discipline, which stand him in good stead when he goes on to become an Olympic athlete.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is scheduled for worldwide release on July 12, 2013.