Nobody was ready to pick `Bhaag Milkha Bhaag` initially: Mehra

Updated: Jul 24, 2013, 15:07 PM IST

New Delhi: ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag‘ has won its race at the box office but director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra says he struggled for three years to raise money for his unusual project.

Biopics are a rare genre in Bollywood and Mehra knew what he was letting himself into by making a film on one of the living legends of sports.

The director started with producing the film on his own but had to let go of 50 per cent of its rights to complete the film, which starred Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh.

"Raising money was a challenging task but we always believed that we were going to make it. For three years, I knocked at every door but nobody picked it up and they are all friends," Mehra was quoted.

"In Bollywood, you can count people on your fingertips. People were not willing to take the risk because of its subject. It is still a cottage industry, very family driven. Corporates have started coming in and they are bringing a sense of professionalism but it is still individually controlled," Mehra added.

Bollywood seems to be waking up to the magic of biopics recently. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is making a film on boxing champion Mary Kom with Priyanka Chopra; there are reports of a biopic on Hockey legend Dhyanchand, while Anurag Basu has already announced plans for a film on Kishore Kumar.

Asked whether the film would spark a trend in Bollywood for more such original stories, Mehra seemed doubtful.

"It is still very difficult to make a non-formula film without producing it. I hope it opens up a trend where we don`t have to follow a formula for a film to be successful. In Bollywood, your project becomes economically viable only when you pick up a star, otherwise nobody will entertain you," Mehra said.