Is Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra not keeping his promise to Milkha Singh?

Aug 09, 2014, 06:00 IST | Bharati Dubey

Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra seems to have gone back on his word to pay a share of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag's profit to Milkha Singh. We bring you the disconcerting details

It’s been a year since the release of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s biopic on Milkha Singh. But the legendary sportsman, who sold the rights to his life story for just one rupee, is yet to receive the sum he was promised after the film’s release. It seems that Mehra had told Milkha Singh that he would give 10 per cent of the film’s profit to the trust run by the sportsman. In fact, the same was reported earlier in hitlist in its July 14 issue, but it has emerged that there has been no progress on this front yet.

Farhan Akhtar
Farhan Akhtar played Milkha Singh in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, which was directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. The filmmaker is said to have promised to share 10 percent of the film’s profit with Milkha Singh’s trust.

When contacted, Milkha Singh said, “They have made a good film but I am still waiting for what I was promised. I do not wish to talk about it now as the makers have told me that once Viacom 18 pays them, they would pay me. In fact, they have promised to come and meet me next week. I will know more then.’’ It may be recalled that last month, Mumbai Congress leader Charanjit Singh Sapra told this paper that Milkha Singh had called him up to speak about Rakeysh Mehra’s broken promise. Sapra tells hitlist, “Milkha Singh called me in the first week of July and he was very hurt and disturbed. He felt cheated by Mehra; he told me that his trust was yet to receive 10 per cent of the film’s profit. It is appalling to see a filmmaker treat a legend like Milkha Singh in such a bad fashion. One can only imagine how regular guys would be treated in the industry.’’

Milkha Singh
Milkha Singh

Sapra even wrote to the filmmaker and Viacom 18 but it turns out that there has been no response from either party. “But they recently called Milkha Singh and told him that they would meet him personally in Chandigarh on August 10 or 12,’’ Sapra says.

The politician says that there were many other filmmakers who were keen on making a biopic on Singh. “They were ready to pay him a lot of money. Milkha Singh was offered between Rs 2.5 crore to R4 crore by others, but he chose to co-operate with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Prasoon Joshi as a result of which, he sold them rights to his story for just Rs 1. The 10 per cent was promised later by the filmmaker after he saw Milkha Singhji going out of his way to help them with permissions to shoot at stadiums and around military areas,” says Sapra.

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

On his part, Ajit Andhare, COO of Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, says, “Whatever the deal, we can tell you that it is between ROMP (Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures) and Milkha Singh; we have nothing to do with it. Also, there is no dispute between us and the filmmaker in this case.” Rakeysh Omprakash remained unavailable for comment.

Other controversial biopics in Bollywood
The Mountain Man

Biopic based on: Dashrath Manjhi
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Dashrath Manjhi

Film: The Dirty Picture
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Milan Luthria’s film, The Dirty Picture, was loosely based on ’70s sex siren, Silk Smitha. Silk Smitha’s brother, V Naga Varaprasad Rao, had moved court to stop the release of the film. He had objected to the way his sister was portrayed in the film and also stated that no consent was taken from the family.

Vidya Balan in The Dirty Picture
Vidya Balan in The Dirty Picture

Film: Bandit Queen
Biopic based on: Phoolan Devi
Shekhar Kapur’s film, Bandit Queen, that released in 1994, was based on Mala Sen’s book, India’s Bandit Queen—The True Story of Phoolan Devi. Phoolan Devi, however, disputed its accuracy and even fought a case in a bid to get it banned in India.

Seema Biswas in Bandit Queen

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Anurag Basu is planning to make a biopic on Kishore Kumar with Ranbir Kapoor playing the versatile actor-singer in the film. However, actress Madhubala’s (she was Kishore Kumar’s wife) sister, Madhu Bhushan, has threatened to take the makers to court. She has apparently said that if she finds any objectionable or defamatory element in the film with regards to her sister, she would challenge the makers in court.

Film: Untitled film
Biopic based on: Sahir Ludhianvi
Ashi Dua is producing a biopic on lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi; the film has run into trouble even before the cast has been finalised. Amrita Pritam’s family has raised objections against presenting an account of her life. Pritam and Sahir were in a long-term relationship; the former chronicled the same in her autobiography, Raseedi Ticket.

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