Budhiya Singh – Born to Run, another masterpiece sports biopic on the wonder boy marathon runner, is a film by Soumendra Padhi. Offlate we have seen a few very good biopics on screen viz. Neerja, Airlift, Aligarh etc. Even the forthcoming film Rustam is based on true life events. As far as sports biopics are concerned, we had Mary Kom and Bhag Milkha Bhag (and Azhar too) in the past. We are aware that in the coming months we are going to witness biopics on cricketers MS Dhoni and Sachin too. So, one might wonder, how does this biopic on Budhiya stand apart? Yes, it is different from the rest, since it is about a 5-year old Odhisha boy Budhiya, and stories like this certainly raise the bar of our films. This film was earlier titled as Duronto, and it has already won National Award of Best Children’s Film. Budhiya, a child prodigy, who indeed was born to run, created a world record, by running 48 marathons in a year’s time, when he was just 5 years old. It included his running 65 Kms in 7 hours 2 minutes from Puri to Bhubaneswar in 50 degree temperature in 2006. This milestone earned him Limca Book of Records. The film focuses on this wonder boy, the Youngest Marathon runner, his wonderful relationship with Coach Biranchi Das, shallowness of our system, politics, power play, hypocrisy of the officials etc. How beautifully the story of Biranchi and Bidhiya is projected on screen is to be seen and experienced.
Biranchi Das (played by exceptionally great actor Manoj Bajpai), who runs a Judo Training School for orphan children and forbidden / poor children at his home. He is also shown to be inclined towards social reforms. His source of income is shown from a restaurant and a salon. His wife Gita (Shruti Marathe) is his great support system in his endeavours. Budhia, the titular character played by Mayur Patole, was born in a slum in a very poor family, extremely impoverished upbringing. His mother Sukanti (Tilotama Shome) sells him to a vendor for Rs. 800. Biranchi Das spots Budhiya and brings him home, rather buys him back. Budhiya starts staying along with 22 other children at Biranchi’s place. Biranchi was astonished to explore that this 5 year Budhiya had the potential to run non-stop. Biranchi decides to coach Budhiya for marathons. It is interesting to see the bond between Biranchi and Budhiya. Biranchi and Geeta adopt Budhiya. It is incredible to see Budhiya breaking all the barriers of being a child and running marathons like an expert at such a tender age, where he does not even know to tie his shoe lace.
Biranchi and Budhiya were all over the headlines in Print and Electronic Media which covered Budhiya’s marathon running spree. But these accolades and the limelight later on created hurdles for Budhiya. Child Welfare Department intervened to question such a small child’s capacity to run such marathons. Budhiya was not given permission to run Delhi based Marathon at the last moment. Biranchi, a non-conformist in his own manner, was not ready to pay heed, and took head-on challenge with the Child Welfare Department. He further trains Budhiya to run one of the record-making marathon, i.e. a distance of 65 Kms from Puri to Bhubaneswar. He covers the distance in 7 hours 2 minutes.
The film does convey Biranchi’s methods of strict training for Budhiya, it also shows the other side to it by displaying footage of leading sports / technology personalities voicing their concern over such strenuous training and runs for Budhiya. Many questions were raised by the system. But Biranchi had answers to all of them quoting the example of golfer Tiger Woods and footballer Carlos Chera.
Obviously Biranchi could not fight the power play. Ultimately Budhiya was banned from running till he is 18 (now he is 14 years old) and he is in a Kalinga Sports Academy in Odisha.
What all events transpired which led to Budhiya’s ban? Though this coach-coachee’s relationship and fate is known by the world, let me not reveal, what happens to Biranchi? How did the authorities succeed in taking Budhiya away from Biranchi and put him in hostel ? It forces one to ponder, if a child can be allowed to play different sports viz. cricket, badminton, football etc, do swimming and compete in these areas as well, why can’t a child like Budhiya, whose potential lie in marathon running, be allowed to run? Why this bias towards Budhiya? Biranchi dreamt of making Budhiya participate in 2016 Olympics (Rio), which coincidently started today a day after this film’s release. If Budhiya was not banned, India could have had an Olympic medal surely to its credit. The film showcases the shallowness of the existing system and also the power tussle. An athlete usually faces hurdles and challenges during a race, but the hurdles before Budhiya was like putting an end to a brilliant runner’s innings.
What to talk about the performances! It is amazing to see Manoj Bajpayee effortlessly slip into every character which he plays on screen. He brings various facets of his character Biranchi live on screen: the enthusiasm of Biranchi on exploring Budhiya, his passion to take care of orphan kids treating them as his own, his drive in running Judo Training School, his frustrations / fighting with the system, his daring attitude to take head-on with the authorities / politicians.
Mayur as Budhiya is awesome. He brings so much credibility to the character. He is a natural performer. Rest of the kids at Biranchi’s place are also such wonderful natural performers, bring so much freshness with their simplicity.
Tilotama Shome as Sukanti – Budhiya’s mother and Shruti Marathe as Gita – Biranchi’s wife are also very good. Gajraj Rao is also very nice. Rest of the characters are also good.
Cast and Crew Details (Source: Wikipedia page for Budhiya – Born to Run)
Cast: Manoj Bajpai (Biranchi Das), Mayur Patole (Budhiya Singh), Tilotama Shome (Sukanti), Shruti Marathe (Gita), Chhaya Kadam, Gopal Singh, Prasad Pandit, Gajraj Rao, Rajan Bhise, Pushkarj Chirputkar, Sayalee Pathak
Directed by: Soumendra Padhi
Produced by: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Code Red Films
Written by: Soumendra Padhi
Screenplay by: Soumendra Padhi
Music by: Sidhant Mathur, Ishaan Chhabra
Cinematography: Mano Kumar Khatoi
Edited by: Shivkumar V Panicker
Distributed by: Viacom18 Motion Pictures
Release date: 5th August, 2016
Duration: 1 hour 52 minutes
Born to run anthem is very motivating and inspiring. It will give you goosebumps for sure.
Certain moments are so wonderfully captured:
Biranchi coaching Budhiya
Biranchi’s interactions with his wife Gita
Interactions between kids in Biranchi’s home
Biranchi’s passion and conviction as a coach on Budhiya’s competency
Budhiya’s never-getting-tired attitude to listen to and follow Biranchi Das
Biranchi’s meeting with Budhiya for the last time
It is sad to understand that Budhiya still does not have the right to run. He says that he still can run, it is just that he needs a coach like Biranchi.
Budhiya Singh – Born to run is a must watch film. Although, this story was supposed to be told earlier, the sincerity with which this film is made, probably may inspire the system to lift the ban on this wonder boy Budhiya, bring him back to tracks, facilitate him to fulfill the dreams of his selfless coach Biranchi Das and also to make a mark for India at Global level.
Rating : 4 / 5 (Very Good)