If "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" has been a life-changing experience for Farhan Akhtar, who plays the title role in the film and has learnt the lesson of forgiveness from Milkha Singh, he hopes the Olympian's biopic would help open the mind of federations, who start nurturing talents.
"Milkhaji taught me that you couldn't move on in life with the baggage of negativity and illwill. You can't be the Flying Sikh with that entire burden," said Farhan.
Talking about the film's impact, he said: "Athletes are bound to be inspired by the movie. But I hope sports federations should start getting a lot more sensitive towards athletes and nurture them correctly... Hopefully, the film will make people think," he said.
Farhan wears more hats than one - he is director, producer, actor and singer, but clarifies that he can do only one thing at a time, and right now his priority is to relax and unwind with his family.
Q: What was your main area of interest while doing "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag"?
A: I was most amazed by his spirit. And that spirit is latent within us. It takes a story like Milkhaji's to awaken that spirit within all of us. What I learned the most is the power of forgiveness. Milkhaji taught me that you couldn't move on in life with the baggage of negativity and illwill. You can't be the Flying Sikh with that entire burden. So, in a way the running is a metaphor for an unburdened spirit of forgiveness.
Q: What do you feel about the plight of sportspersons who are not cricketers in our country?
A: I can only say there's a lot that needs to be done for them. The opportunities that sportspersons get outside the world of cricket are very few. The sports events like an Olympics happen once in several years. They spend all their time traning for that moment, sacrificing all their personal time for that moment. I met Krishna Poonia, who told me she had to stay away from her child for two years while preparing for an event. They should get back a lot more for what they sacrifice. But they don't.
Q: How much of a difference do you think "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" would make to the mindset on sportspersons?
A: Athletes are bound to be inspired by the movie. But I hope sports federations should start getting a lot more sensitive towards athletes and nurture them correctly. That can only happen if they don't have to stress about their livelihood. Hopefully, the film will make people think.
Q: Is there a fear that future roles would not be able to equal BMB?
A: No, not really. Fortunately, I've done work in the past that has been appreciated. It's crucial to shed skin and move on. But you're right. Milkha is a life-changing experience for me. It will always remain precious to me. But I can't allow myself to rest on this role alone. My next film is Saket Chowdhary's "Shaadi Ke Side Effects" with Vidya Balan. We're more or less done. It's a completely different planet from BMB, like Mercury and Pluto.
Q: What was it like shooting with Vidya?
A: It was like returning to a world that I associate with. To some extent doing "Shaadi Ke Side Effects" helped me to get out of Milkha's skin. Within two months of shooting BMB, we moved to this film. It's a very sweet script...It's a wonderfully sweet script. And Vidya was a terrific co-star.
Q: Did you ever imagine your career would pan out in this exceptional way?
A: I don't think one can ever script one's life. I don't allow myself to be bogged down by self-expectations. But it will have to be one thing at a time. If I am directing, then I won't be acting. Actors have done both simultaneously in the past. I've tremendous respect for them. I can't. As for singing, it is an extension of my acting vocation.
Q: When are you directing next?
A: I don't know! I have to give myself that space to decide what I want to do. At the moment it's very important for me to spend time with the family.