Bengaluru, June 19: Before he succumbed to COVID-19, Indian sports icon Milkha Singh Milkha fought and won the kind of battles that not many would have survived and that in essence set the stage for the 2013 biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag or Run, Milkha, Run.
Born in 1929 in Govindpura, present-day Pakistan, Milkha saw the horrors of the partition up close, losing most of his family to violence when British-ruled India was divided into Pakistan and India in 1947.
Days after the partition, Milkha's father sent him away to find help. He eventually made it across the border, into India, but his parents did not survive the deadly riots that ensued back in their village.
The title Bhaag Milkha Bhaag literally referred to the last words that his father said to him, asking him to flee or he too would be another life lost during the violence that swept the subcontinent post-partition.
The grapevine is that Milkha had taken just Rs 1 from director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra to allow him to make the film on his life, which featured Farhan Akhtar in the title role.
And what made it more special was the fact that it was printed in 1958, the year when the Flying Sikh won the first gold medal for India in the Commonwealth Games.
"We wanted to give a priceless token of appreciation to Milkha ji for letting us tell his story through our film. We looked for something special for a very long time. Then we finally ended up sourcing a special Rs 1 currency note that was printed in 1958," Rajiv Tandon, CEO, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures Pvt. Ltd, had said in a statement.
Farhan's cinematic portrayal of Milkha was widely regarded, amongst fans and critiques alike, as one of the best acting performances of all time.
The film earned several accolades and received an overwhelming response upon its release. And later in an interview with PTI news agency Milkha had said that it was the only film which he watched.
"That was the time of Raj Kapoor, Suraiya, Shamshad Begum, and Noor Jehan. I didn't watch a film after the 1960s. I've no idea who all were the good heroes, directors or producers in the '80s. The only film I watched after all those years was my own film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag."