From NewStraitsTimes:

FOR nearly six decades, Indians have revelled in this Punjabi joke in all its quirky broadness: “How are you? Relaxing?”

“No, I am Milkha Singh.”

It has taken them as long, and a biopic, to recognise the modestly educated soldier-sportsman who has been the butt of that joke. Bhag Milkha Bhag (Run Milkha Run) on the life of India's most famous sports icon has begun brisk business at the box office, even as critics compete to shower plaudits or aim barbs. Born in 1935 in Faisalabad, now in Pakistan, Milkha was a victim of India's brutal Partition in 1947. Seeing his kin being killed, he ran to escape. He kept running on arrival in Delhi as a refugee — from his memories, from the police as he became a little thug and an unrequited love. The “run” as a metaphor of life's expedient circumstances, threads through the narrative. udiences empathise with Milkha not only because he ran fast, but because he wasn't afraid to stumble, falter, fall, rise and run again. He found a sense of purpose in the Indian Army. The lure of milk, eggs and freedom from fatigue duty made him take to sports. Years of hard work helped him break national records; wins at the Asian and Commonwealth games. But the hot favourite at the Rome Olympics (1960), although he broke yet another record, came fourth, losing a medal by hair's breadth. Milkha has lived through two catharses: one of bitter Partition memories and the other, not bagging an Olympic medal. Fate helped him overcome both. On Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's persuasion and Pakistan president Ayub Khan's invitation in 1962, he ran in Pakistan and washed off the double agony. He raced ahead of Abdul Khaliq, the winner of the 100m gold at the Tokyo Asian Games. Ayub Khan christened him “The Flying Sikh”. In distilling these catharses, Bollywood has performed an unusual, but commendable task amidst continuing mistrust between India and Pakistan. Bhag Milkha Bhag seems inspired by a vision of the future and a departure from the countless narratives of the terrible past and a present that does not hold much hope.

More here. (Note: A lovely film now playing in New York and maybe elsewhere.)