Every time someone says ‘Mast hai’ about Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, I just ask ‘Have you watched Paan Singh Tomar?’. A few of them ask ‘What is it?’ and a few more say no.
Both are great movies and I personally feel Paan Singh Tomar is better.
Both are very much similar. Based on the life of an Army sportsman, Asian Games, Breaking Records, Medals, Struggle for life etc.
The difference is, as we all know, One made fame and money and the other one didn’t make that much fame or that much money. Why? What did Paan Singh Tomar lack?
I’ve thought about the same and listed out a few things.
1. Everything is in the Name
Even before the movie came, Milkha Singh’s title ‘The Flying Sikh’ is known to almost every Indian who has completed school. Children study about him in their textbooks. Adults have seen him or read about him on the media. He is still a hero! He is Famous!
Whereas Paan Singh Tomar was not very famous until the movie came. He was branded as a criminal, killed by the Indian law enforcement authorities. Most of us got to know about him only after we saw the Movie.
2. Brand matters in Box Office
No matter how good or bad the movie is, the brand name of the movie matters. Farhan Akhtar and Sonam Kapoor are a better brand than Irrfan Khan and Mahie Gill. Sonam kapoor doesn’t have much role in the movie, she’s just a crowd puller. Farhan has made movies for the crowd, usually romance, drama or comedy. Irrfan on the other side is a great and choosy actor. He makes great movies, not for the crowd but for the class. He is the Hollywood guy. But he is never considered a hero back home in Bollywood. And Pann singh Tomar is no movie for the crowd!
3. Bollywood = Song+Dance+Drama
Again Songs and Dance are a key to market a movie. Release a few songs on TV a month before the movie release and people would be waiting for the movie. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag did it well but Paan Singh Tomar lacked this.
4. People buy everything that is sold : Marketing
Marketing was one strong forces that led to Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’s amazing success. Showing trailers at the movie hall, songs on TV, associations and collaboration, Social media marketing on Facebook, Twitter etc. Everything worked. Viacom18 and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra could do it easily. They’re good at this. But even Ronnie Screwvala and UTV Motion Pictures could have done this. They did a little bit but it was not enough.
5. Certificate, Languages, Run time etc
Paan Singh Tomar was a shorter film(135 minutes) with a U/A certificate. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was a longer one(188 minutes) with U certificate. Run time matters. Especially in India, with our ‘Paisa Vasool’ mentality. People would pay 200 bucks at a multiplex for a 3 hour movie but they would think twice for a 2 hour movie. And U/A means you’ll have to explain a lot many things if you take your kids along. So, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is easier!
Milkha singh was from Punjab and had a Punjabi accent which is more popular and easier to understand than Paan Singh’s accent who was from Chambal Valley, Madhya Pradesh.
With these things that I’ve thought about, I consider Paan Singh Tomar was a great movie and could have made as good as or better than Bhaag Milkha Bhaag if it did or could do better in the above aspects.