Budhia Singh, the marathon runner who at the age of 4 created a world record by running non-stop from Bhubaneshwar to Puri, a distance of 65 kilometres, is now 14.
A film on his life Budhia Singh Born To Run has now been released, 10 years after fame hit him at that tender age. But Budhia says he cannot remember anything. Speaking in a halting mumble he says, “I was too small. Main bachcha ttha. 10 years have passed. I’ve spent these ten years in sports hostel training for marathon running. But I am not allowed to run. I want to run. I want to do my country proud.”
The film on his global fame at age 4 made Budhia happy. “I watched it like I was seeing someone else’s life. It was incredible! I was happy when the director Soumendra Padhi made a film on my life.”
Budhia remains detached from the film. “When I finally saw the film this week I couldn’t recall any of the incidents shown in the film. Not the fame not the applause….nothing! Did all this really happen to me?”
Budhia was impressed by his own story on screen and the child actor Mayur Patole who plays Budhia. “I’ve seen my pictures from when I was a child. Mayur looks exactly the way I did when I was 4. It is amazing! When he stood next to me after the film, I felt I was looking at my own childhood.”
At 14 Budhia is raring to get back to running. “But they won’t allow me. The government says I am too young to run professionally. That I’ll be allowed to run only when I am 18. I want to run for my country. I want to bring back the Olympic medal. But I need a good coach.”
Budhia’s coach during childhood was Biranchi Das, played by Manoj Bajpai in the film. Says Budhia, “I don’t remember much about him. But I’ve been told he loved me like a son and was very encouraging. He is no more. I need another coach like him.”
During the shooting of the film the real Budhia came face to face with the reel Budhia.
Recalls the real Budhia, “They came to shoot the film in Odisha. The boy who plays me ran through those very streets and lanes that I did. I watched him. It was like reliving my own childhood, which I don’t remember. Everyone had forgotten me and my achievements. Even I had forgotten. I can’t thank the director Soumendra Padhi enough for bringing alive my story.”