Chal Milkha Chal!

The biopic on Indian sprinter Milkha Singh is a big hit in the US!

The biopic “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” has been a big hit in the US!

The recent movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (Run Milkha Run) has turned out to be a huge hit in the US (just like in India). It is a well done dramatization on the life of Indian sprinter Milkha Singh, a role well-played by actor Farhan Akhtar. Despite the movie being a biopic of an Olympic runner, ironically you do not see many people run or jog in India. The very land of Milkha Singh unfortunately has few Indians running for health and fitness.

I have seen people in India usually strolling or taking brisk walks during early morning and late evening hours. During my stay in India, I have met very few runners or joggers and it makes me wonder what it is with walking that makes it so natural for Indians! I have seen most Indians living in India (from small and big towns) who prefer to walk than jog. Interestingly, I have seen strollers in the US and 9 out of ten times they are Indians and not by chance certainly. Indians like to walk. Americans like to jog.

 It should be Chal Milkha Chal considering Indians would rather stroll or walk than jog or run!

It should be “Chal Milkha Chal” considering Indians would rather stroll or walk than jog or run!

So what’s it with running (bhaagna) that is so out of the Indian comfort zone? Is it that in India there are few jogging lanes and parks that make walking the outdoor thing for light exercise? Or perhaps running in India can invite stray dogs (read trouble) or simply because walking goes with the flow of mild-tempered Indians who like to take it easy while exercising (read: just take a stroll)!

As far as the movie Bhag Milkha Bhaag, I like the movie’s timing (which seems apt)—India like a lot of countries is dealing with the consequences of technology, fast food and late working hours i.e. a sedentary lifestyle. It’s virtuality against vitality for many Indians as we see a generation more active on Facebook than at the gym, keeping busy with updating pictures and Facebook statuses while clearly ignoring physical exercise or a regular fitness regime.

One is beginning to see fitness centers popping up in India, but given that India is land constrained i.e. real estate in most cities is so expensive that a full-fledged gym is an expensive proposition. Then again, why not go out for a simple run! Is walking (chalna) a cultural thing with Indians or just a thing of habit! Running a mile on it…Chal Milkha Chal!

Your thoughts are welcome.

-Sanjay Puri

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