Budhia Singh made history when he ran a breathtaking marathon from Bhubaneswar to Puri, covering 65 km in seven hours and two minutes. He was four years old then. His name was listed in the Limca book of records and he was termed as the world’s youngest marathon runner in the year 2006. Budhia was a prodigy then, he is a forgotten hero now.
However, with director Soumendra Padhi’s upcoming biopic, Budhia Singh – Born To Run, this forgotten star and his popularity is all set for a revival. The film will depict the real-life story of the wonder boy who didn’t have a word called ‘stop’ in his dictionary.
Talking to IndianExpress.com, Budhia — a strapping 14-year-old teenager now — talked about the day when he came to know that a film was being made on his life. “I never ever in my life thought that a movie will be made on me. I am very elated and I look forward to watch my story on the big screen,” he said.
After running a record-breaking marathon, Budhia was admitted to Bhubaneswar’s SAI sports hostel on the orders of the Child Welfare Committee to provide him with better training and education. But things didn’t turn out the way they should have. He didn’t get good facilities or training and felt like he was lodged in a jail. After staying in the hostel for almost nine years, Budhia is now at home, living with mother Sukantio Singh and his sister.
Even after staying away from the sport for a long time, Budhia’s passion for running hasn’t faded. He still wants to run a marathon and is getting full support from his family to this end. “I really want to run a marathon again. But no one is helping me with it. My family is helping me in every possible way but I am not getting a coach to give me proper training. My mom says if I get a coach, it will be good for us. I want to run and represent my country in Olympics,” he said.
Budhia ran almost 48 marathon with the help of his coach Biranchi Das, who nurtured him like his own son and trained him. From diet plan to his training, he was Budhia’s mentor in every way. Biranchi was murdered by a gangster in 2008. “I miss my coach… he used to take care of me. He used to give me nice training. He used to give me food also. It was only him who nurtured me. I miss him every single moment,” he said.
There were also allegations that coach Biranchi Das was putting undue pressure on Budhia to run, killing his childhood in process. Budhia, however, doesn’t look at it this way. “No, he was really very nice to me. He was only one who taught me how to run. And I don’t know if he was thinking of his own benefit or not. I was very small at that time and couldn’t understand,” he said.
In the film, Manoj Bajpayee plays Budhia’s coach Biranchi Das while Mayur Patole essays the role of Budhia. Talking about his meeting with Manoj at director Soumendra Padhi’s office, Budhia says, “He (Manoj Bajpayee) told me that you are staying in the hostel and the government has forgotten about me. With his movie, people will remember me once again. Soumendra sir told me that he will help me get proper training for running and a coach after the movie.”
When we asked Manoj Bajpayee about Budhia, he said, “I just met him few days back and he is 14 now. He still wants to run the marathon. After the age of 18, he wants to prepare for marathon. He needs correct guidance and correct training for it.”
When we asked if his character of Biranchi Das will leave an impact in the minds of audiences like his previous roles, he said, “Yeah definitely. Biranchi is going to stay in the hearts of the audience forever. Biranchi is a unique character. Somebody who was very very straight forward — a truthful and well intentioned person. And someone whose passion was to train Budhia so that his talent could be recognised.”
When asked about the allegations of Biranchi forcing Budhia to run for his personal gain, he said, “This is rubbish because he was not gaining anything out of Budhia Singh or before him. He trained so many other children in judo and got them rehabilitated, some even got into CRPF.”
The murder of Biranchi Das was a mystery. When asked if the movie talks about the incident, Bajpayee said, “The matter is in the court so let it be a court matter. We have kept some things secret. You’ll get to know when you will watch the movie. The reason why I wanted to do the film was because I knew about the story and it fascinated me. I always wanted to play Biranchi’s role. It was always my dream to play him. And I was lucky that when the script was written, it came to me.”
Budhia Singh – Born To Run, which has won the National Film Award for Best Children’s film this year, is releasing in theatres on August 5.