I never set out to impersonate Milkha: Farhan Akhtar


By Hindustan Times

Farhan Akhtar has always put a lot of thought into the roles he plays, but Bhag Milkha Bhag (BMB), a film in which his character is based on a real person, has taken a toll on him.“Shooting for BMB has been very taxing, emotionally,” says the actor-director who plays Milkha Singh, one of India’s
greatest athletes, in the biopic. “Even all the physical changes I had to undergo for the role were so different from anything else I’ve done so far. Understanding Milkha Singh, the person that he is, is huge.”

Sixty per cent of the film has been shot so far. Akhtar, who is now in Singapore where he will co-host the IIFA Awards and (possibly) watch his own last film as an actor, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) pick up accolades, cannot sum up his BMB experiences in a few sentences. Working on his part, Akhtar not only spent time with the man he plays in the film, but also made it a point to learn about him from his contemporaries. With so much background information, playing Milkha then became easier, he says.“Most importantly, I never set out to impersonate him,” says Akhtar. “I wanted to understand each event in the film. What he felt at that point, how his mind functioned — every minute detail mattered. He has gone through so much, he has seen so much, that it’s impossible to get into every aspect of his life.” He adds: “I wanted to know what mattered to him the most. What his journey was — was it easy? Was it just triumph? As an actor, when you are getting into the psyche of a person, all of this must come to you naturally.”

But the film is more than just the biography of the man, however great he is and Akhtar makes that very clear. “There’s a larger picture to this film, there’s such an important message in it about an incredible person, that everything I’ve gone through as an actor to make it work, seems fine,” he says. “In retrospect, it all seems inconsequential. And that’s also what’s exciting about BMB.”