Farhan Akhtar has proven his worth as a director, producer, writer, singer, and actor, in addition to being a filmmaker. In terms of acting, he has delivered a number of notable performances. However, in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013), he was fantastic as Milkha Singh and completely immersed himself in the role. As a result, it came as a surprise to learn that Farhan was not the original choice for the film in Rakeysh’s autobiography, “The Stranger In The Mirror,” co-authored by Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta.
The narrative was written by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Prasoon Joshi, with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and cinematographer Binod Pradhan also contributing. The actor, however, had not yet been signed.
Hrithik Roshan was told the anecdote by Rakeysh. He wrote in his book that “I have always seen him as a very intense actor”. Hrithik presumably liked the script so much that he sent a message to Rakeysh, “You’ve completely screwed my life upside down”. Unfortunately, he was unable to participate in the film because he was engaged filming Krrish 3 at the time (2013).
He then sought Aamir Khan, who starred in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s film Rang De Basanti (2006). After hearing the narration, the superstar declined and said, “Yaar Mehra, this one is not for me”.
Later the director revealed that he realized that Ranveer Singh fits the bill. Rakeysh wrote, “I started screen testing for Milkha and found Ranveer Singh to fit the bill. He was thrilled with the part and so I was with his audition. But then even he passed it for reasons I will never know. I have always respected the decisions of another artist – we all have our headspaces.”
Rakeysh approached Farhan Akhtar at that point. Farhan was offered the role of Karan Singhania in Rang De Basanti (2006) by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra in 2002, when he had not yet begun acting. Siddharth was eventually cast in the role. Farhan had initially declined since he was unsure if he would be able to handle the role. Rakeysh had already proven his value as an actor by the time he told Farhan Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Farhan claimed in his first-person report that he was able to board the plane after only a 15-minute narration.
After that, the rest is history. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag made Rs. 100 crore at the box office. Farhan Akhtar, on the other hand, won Best Actor at practically every major award show that year.
In 2019, even Akshay Kumar was offered Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, he revealed. He even admitted that he regretted declining the offer owing to scheduling conflicts.