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Budhia Singh Born To Run  : A Heartwarming Winner
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Friday, August 5, 2016
Human drama
Soumendra Padhi
Manoj Bajpayee, Mayur Mahendra Patole, Tillotama Shome, Shruti Marathe

The real life story of a little Oriya boy hit the headlines about ten years ago when his coach Biranchi Das was accused of stealing Budhia’s childhood by tough-training him to be a marathon runner.  You can take sides forever. Morally and medically, was it right to make a 5-year-old run nearly 50 marathons? Was Biranchi an exploitative coach who sought headlines, a place in the world book of records and maybe a political career for himself? Or did he genuinely care for Budhia like a parent?

 

Writer-director Soumendra Padhi chooses the coach’s perspective. Once you’re comfortable with that point of view, Manoj Bajpayee takes over the screen and little Budhia’s life as coach Biranchi Das. The five-year-old’s real father is a drunkard who locks heads with Biranchi over a political issue. His mother Sukanti is ready to sell her son irrespective of how much he’s starved or abused. A hole in their thatched roof forever drips water.

 

Biranchi dabbles in local affairs, runs a judo school, owns a couple of businesses, and takes care of 20-odd orphans along with wife Gita. Budhia is just one more mouth to feed. The orphans are all well-fed and happy. Too good to be true? But this is Biranchi’s story and he did discover, hone and bet on the Wonder Boy.

 

Budhia’s success brings him global attention, some of it unwanted. Like the frumpy Minister for Child Welfare and her dodgy right hand man who step in to play politics.

 

When Biranchi announces that the boy will run a 70 km stretch, the harassment includes an eleventh hour demand for a dope test. It makes Budhia the youngest in the world to be thus tested. The boy is clean and his run begins at 4am.

 

Manoj Kumar Khatoi’s camera captures lovely visuals of dawn and a world slowly waking up as Budhia runs. A mile long train of vehicles carrying CRPF personnel, a medical team, the media and the plain curious, follow Budhia. En route it’s festive as crowds line up to cheer the pride of Orissa.

 

But the dream run is cut short. Politics and his biological parents join hands. Budhia is declared malnourished, Biranchi is forbidden from making the young boy run again, the state takes him under its wing. Was Biranchi a victim of politics or did he get what he deserved?

 

We’ll never know.

 

But Manoj Bajpayee gives incredible credibility to Biranchi. Little Pune boy Mayur Patole is a delight as Budhia.  Shruti Marathe as wife Gita and Tillotama Shome as Budhia’s mother slip easily into their characters.

 

For a unique story that’s told with cinematic finesse, Budhia Singh Born To Run gets a 3.5* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author

 

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