With Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (BMB) crossing the prestigious Rs.100 crore mark, the film has already become the third highest grosser of 2013. The story of the legendary sprinter, one of the first athletes to put India on the global map of sports, has renewed a surge of interest in some of the most enduring heroes post Independence. The film chronicles a life that overcame all adversities to become the world famous Flying Sikh from India. At a time when the film is creating a buzz in the film theatres, we chanced upon a documentary that was made by an Indian film-maker S.P. Ganguli and cinematographer Deepak Haldankar in 1970. The documentary titled as The Flying Sikh - Milkha Singh was submitted to NFDC (National Film Development Corporation).
Produced by Films Division Government of India in 1970, the documentary The Flying Sikh - Milkha Singh focussed more on the life of the legendary athlete after he retired from sports. The high point of the film is that it has Milkha Singh himself talking about his life. The real-life footages of significant moments in Singh’s life have been taken from NFDC’s archives.
Recalling the making of the documentary, Deepak Haldankar says, “It was my first assignment. I was 20 years old then, and very excited to start my career with Milkha’s story. We started shooting the documentary only after we had done a thorough research on him. It was a 17-day outdoor project. We stayed in Amritsar and spend more than 12 hours everyday with the man himself. It was a good learning experience for me.” He further adds, “We became friends during the shooting, and often went on hunting trips in those 17 days. When the documentary was complete, we submitted it to NFDC. They released it in over 15,000 theatres and garnered a good response for it. What made the documentary very popular is that it had Milkha talking about himself; it was clearly the USP of the film.”
Ask him about BMB, and Haldankar describes it as an ‘experience to watch a film on Milkha Singh release on such