On 18th June, the world mourned the loss of the legendary athlete, Milkha Singh as the sports icon passed away at the age of 91 due to COVID-19 complications. Among many others was actor Farhan Akhtar who paid a heartfelt tribute via social media. In an interview with India Today’s Rajdeep Sardesai, the actor opened up about the beautiful moments he shared with the ‘Flying Sikh’.
Farhan Akhtar who starred in his biopic and essayed Milkha on the big screen said, “I remember the first time he came on the track that I was training on. That was the very first time that I met him. He came dressed in his track pants and jogger top. We ran a little 400 meters together. And there were these athletes from Maharashtra police who were training on that ground, and they all came there. That was the first time I got a glimpse into what he means to other sportspeople. For them to meet him, for him to put his hand over their head or their back and say ‘bachche acha karo, hard work karo’ and bless them, it made their day.”
Speaking of late Milkha’s humility, Farhan said, “There was a lot to learn from him, not just as an athlete but as a human being. He had humility, a sense of humour… he was self-deprecating yet at the same time he had a tremendous amount of pride. He wore his status of legend very lightly.”
Farhan also revealed that Milkha Singh gifted him his pair of shoes he used for the 1960 Rome Olympics, and it indeed is a prized possession. “He gifted me those shoes as a good-luck gesture for the film. It is and it always was a priceless gift to me from him. I am just very grateful that I have those shoes. I will always treasure them.”
Reminiscing the legendary athlete’s reaction to his biopic ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, Farhan said, “I do think that he was very happy with the film that was made. He was happy with the portrayal that I did of his part. The sweetest thing he said to me after watching it, after receiving a lot of compliments for his story, for his life, he once called me and said, ‘You know Farhan, after this film, you’ve added 10 years to my life’. That really stayed with me,” recalled Farhan.
Milkha Singh passed away on 18 June, Friday, just five days after the demise of his beloved wife Nirmal Kaur.