Two enchanting and mystical weeks of temple -trekking through ancient, sacred monuments: iconic reminders of a people’s dedication and love for their gods; the might of their of their dynasties (Chola in particular): Shiva, Vishnu and Buddha, their avatars, miracles, mysteries laid bare by the inimitable scholar, Dr. Maduvanti Ghose, Alsdorf curator of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan, Islamic art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her exuberance, intelligence, peregrinations ignited our spirits as we time- traveled back though millenniums; inspired and awed by gifted, unknown craftsmen and the rulers who created perennial testaments to their reign and the gods who informed their tenure.
“BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG”
Almost four years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing reclusive director Rayeysh Omprakash Mehra ( 2006, award winning “Rang De Basanti”). He is a mystical, philosophical man, imbuing a contemporary world with films that resonate with profound insights, lessons from the past, timelessly prescient for all ages. “Run Milkha Run” revolves around “The Flying Sikh” Milkha Singh; held the world record in the 400-meter and represented India in Rome’s 1960 Olympics. Writer/director (“Dil Chanta Hai”) actor Farhan Akhtar, doffs the ubiquitous Bollywood image and gives a sensational portrait of a man destined for posterity; through a series of flashbacks we see young “Milkha” traumatized by the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan; a stint as a petty thief; enlistment in the service and the cultivation of his mythic, Achilles skills as a runner. Few outside of India are familiar with Milkha Singh and the strength, fortitude and colossal odds he overcame to attain rarefied greatness. A debt is owed to Rayeysh Mehra for gracing the screen, plucking from the shadows of archival sport history, a man, who for an ethereal moment, dazzled with the blinding brilliance of the fiercest supernova.