Mehra wants new face to play Milkha Singh


By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Jan 5 (IANS)Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, who will not cast an A-lister for the title role in "Run Milkha Run", has launched a nationwide search to find a new face who is a good actor as well as a good sprinter to play the legendary athlete on the screen.

The idea of casting a superstar in the role has been totally abandoned, thanks to budget constraints. Akshay Kumar was the real-life Milkha's choice and even Amitabh Bachchan's suggested his name for the role.

Mehra doesn't pretend that a star wouldn't work in a biopic.

"Oh, some of our stars are capable of transforming themselves into any character. I would watch an Amitabh Bachchan or a Dev Anand play almost anything. But in this case it was always a newcomer or a relative newcomer," said Mehra who has worked with Big B to Aamir Khan in films like "Aks" and "Rang De Basanti" respectively.

The director starts shooting "Run Milka Run" from the middle of 2011, but will first hunt for the right actor to play Milkha. A nationwide search has been launched and Mehra has already shortlisted newcomers and semi-newcomers.

At the moment, he will only reveal that "it could be a semi-newcomer like Sharman Joshi in 'Rang De Basanti'. What had he done before RDB? Some film called 'Style'. If I had seen him in that, I'd have never cast him. So I am going to cast someone with some acting experience. My budget doesn't allow me to get a complete newcomer and train him".

Mehra says he is shooting "Run Milkha Run" on a "smart budget".

"We're cutting down production costs by almost half by simply doing away with expenditure that was so far considered compulsory but is actually quite expendable. If you look at the big films that failed in 2010, they did not fail. Their budgets failed them. We won't make the mistake of optimizing the budget in 'Run Milka Run'."

Every actor in "Run Milkha Run" would have to audition for their parts. "That's the way it was it was in 'Rang De Basanti'. Everyone except Aamir Khan had to audition," said the director, whose last outing was "Delhi 6".