Tahil met Milkha Singh and his family at their home in Chandigarh.
The meeting was initially planned for 30 minutes but lasted for 4 hours.
Milkha Singh and Nehru ji had a unique connection.
Last month marked the 10th anniversary of Rakeysh OmPrakash Mehra’s “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag,” which is scheduled for a theatrical re-release on August 6. Actor Dalip Tahil, who portrayed former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in the Farhan Akhtar-led film, fondly remembers his touching interaction with the late legendary athlete Milkha Singh, describing it as a special moment.
“I had fully prepared for Nehru’s role before heading for the shoot and that thanks to our director, I had the privilege of meeting Milkha Singh and his family at their home in Chandigarh,” Tahil affectionately recalls Milkha as a “very simple, down-to-earth, and a quiet person — a gem of a man. The warm memories of Milkha ji and his gracious wife have left an enduring impression on my heart.”
Describing the encounter initially planned for thirty minutes, the 70-year-old actor elaborates on how the meeting evolved into an enriching four-hour discussion. He further highlights that Milkha Singh, nicknamed the Flying Sikh, enjoyed a unique connection with Nehru ji, being the solitary individual within their circle who had a personal encounter with the leader.
“When Milkha was selected to represent India in a track meet in Pakistan, it was Pandit Nehru himself who appointed him as the captain of the team, sending him off to Pakistan,” Tahil further added, “Milkha ji was initially sceptical about meeting Pandit Nehru due to the trauma he had faced during the partition. But Nehru Ji’s charisma and power of persuasion had a profound impact on Milkha ji, healing the wounds of partition and inspiring him to lead the Indian team with pride.”
Desiring to grasp Nehru ji’s character, the experienced actor requested Milkha Singh to recount personal stories of his interactions with the former Prime Minister. The actor acknowledges that these anecdotes greatly influenced his portrayal in the movie.
“Milkha ji described Pandit Nehru as a very charming and charismatic man… There was a moment when Milkha Singh, after winning the race in Pakistan, was offered anything he desired by Nehru Ji. He humbly responded and asked for a national holiday, as he never asked anything for himself from anyone in his life. His essence lied in selflessness and commitment to his sport, making him an iconic national hero,” shares the actor.
The movie’s commitment to maintaining Milkha Singh’s legacy and authenticity is thanks to his son, the golfer Jeev Milkha Singh.
“Despite several lucrative offers from prominent Indian producers, Jeev’s priority was to keep his father’s legacy pure and unblemished. He wanted to get his essence out and keep his legacy intact, so anyone who watches the film knows what Milkha ji’s true personality was,” concludes Tahil.
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