It is awards season for the industry that celebrates itself like no other industry does – Bollywood. So far three film awards (Life Ok Screen, Filmfare and Screen Guild) and one music awards (GIMA) are done – and it has been practically a clean sweep (except for Best Actress which is being bagged by Deepika Padukone everywhere) for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag directed by 50 year-old Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. Best Actor, Best Director, Best Movie, Best Song, Best Lyrics – all are almost unanimously being given to the biopic on the Flying Sardar, Milkha Singh.
The Man of the Moment
After a brief stint in Eureka Forbes, in 1986 Rakeysh started Flicks Motion Picture Company Private Limited. Though the name of his organisation had “Motion Pictures” it made ad films – while clearly indicating where Mehra’s true interests lay. Around 1997 – 98, Amitabh Bachchan released a music album Aby Baby through his company ABCL. As the norm, a couple of songs were picturised to release on TV and popularise the album. Obviously his ad films held merit (and fortune favoured him at that time too) and Amitabh selected Mehra as the director of both the songs to be picturised – Eer Bir Fateh and Kabhi Kabhi. Both the songs were like a magnum opus each in the world of non-film album songs. Each is rumoured to have had budgets of a small film. They took a few months to picturise. In addition to the legendry Bachchan, Kabhi Kabhi also had Shobhana, then the biggest female star in Malayalam films. A huge set was constructed in Bombay’s Mehboob Studios. Both songs won great acclaim. Mehra earned the Bachchan’s trust – which was adequate to launch the “Motion Pictures” part of his aspiration.
Flicks Motion Picture Company Private Limited released its first feature film Aks in 2001. Mixed reactions and indifferent collections didn’t faze Mehra. His next movie was Rang de Basanti, in 2006, starring Aamir. The movie, a strong youth-centric commentary against corruption, was widely appreciated and acclaimed. It bagged a few awards and some nominations too. And Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra had arrived in his own right, beyond the long shadow of the Bachchans’.
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His next in 2009, Dilli 6 was lukewarm, at best – except for the Masakali song. Dilli 6 was followed by Bhaag Milkha Bhaag in 2013. This one set the box office afire and was equally embraced by the masses, classes and critics. (It is interesting to note that the two movies that he has made with the Bachchans – Aks with Amitabh and Dilli 6 with Abhishek didn’t do well. While the ones he has done without them have done phenomenally well.) Bhaag Milkha Bhaag has already won a number of awards, and they are still pouring in. It has made Rakeysh, the lyricist Prasoon Joshi and the hero, Farhan Akhtar, stars – in all caps.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is going to be a very tough act to follow for Mehra. He is reportedly working on a love story and an action thriller – but the man has a bit of a history of starting but not completing movies. If by any chance these two movies don’t work out – what everyone would like to see would be his critique on the Indian education system which he believes is too marks-driven instead of achievement-driven. He would surely have a great narrative (like he did in Rang De Basanti) to make a strong comment on a serious flaw.
By Sujata Garimella