RIVETING RACE AGAINST OVERWHELMING ODDS
STORY: The National award winning film is based on the controversial true story of Odisha’s wonder boy Budhia Singh (played by Mayur Mahendra Patole) and his mentor Biranchi Das (Manoj Bajpayee), who faces opposition from various quarters for seeing an Olympic dream for the world’s youngest marathon runner.
REVIEW: Riddled with extreme poverty, a four-year-old Budhia was sold to a peddler by his mother for Rs 800. Biranchi, a local judo coach, takes the spunky boy under his wing. The child’s running abilities makes Biranchi hopeful that he could be India’s greatest Marathon runner. (Budhia ran from Bhubaneswar to Puri at the age of four covering 65 kilometres in 7 hours). However, the coach faced backlash on ethical grounds for imposing vigorous training practices on the child. The government inquiry, public scrutiny and media circus that followed, clipped the boy’s wings and banned him from running long-distances.
This incredible film must be lauded for presenting a debatable topic in the most balanced fashion. It doesn’t take sides; however, it questions the society at large for making a joke out of a boy who deserved to dream big.
The biopic provokes you to question if Biranchi was right in pushing Budhia to break insurmountable records at such a young age? With child labour rampant in the country, somewhere, you do tend to agree with the coach, when he nonchalantly states that even if the excessive running was to take Budhia’s life, he would have died with dignity and honour than hunger and poverty. On the other hand, would Biranchi have pushed his own child in a similar way? Besides, raising these questions, it also gives you goosebumps as it mirrors our society’s deepest vices – poverty and corruption.
After Aligarh, Bajpayee leaves you spellbound with his brilliance once again. His angst, frustration and relentless struggle against the system until he is compelled to accept defeat leaves a void in your heart. He’s ably supported by a moving performance from Mayur, who plays Budhia. Engrossing from start to finish, Soumendra Padhi deserves a standing ovation for bringing this rollercoaster journey of a child prodigy and his ambitious mentor to celluloid