iljit Dosanjh, Taapsee Pannu, Angad Bedi, Satish Kaushik
Directed by: Shaad Ali
Bollywood’s love for sports biopics continues with ‘Soorma’, and it is the second Bollywood film on hockey after Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Chak de! India’.
Punjabi superstar Diljit Dosanjh plays the life of ex-caption of the Indian national hockey team, Sandeep Singh. Known by his moniker ‘Flicker Singh’, the sportsman’s life had its share of ups and downs after he was paralysed in an accidental bullet strike.
Diljit convinces us with his portrayal of the hockey player and helps us trace his journey from a love-struck carefree boy who picks up the hockey stick to prove his love to Harpreet (Taapsee Pannu), and eventually wins an Arjuna Award. Life takes a turbulent turn for him when an accident leaves his lower body immovable.
It is inspiring to see him bounce back with his grit and determination and go to bring more accolades to Indian hockey. In one particular scene, we see Diljit lying helpless in a hospital bed and seeking help in the middle of the night. As nobody is around, he ends up wetting his bed. Cut to a few further scenes where he is striking goals against Pakistan internationally. Diljit as the ever-smiling, turban-wearing, passionate sportsman will win your heart.
Pannu is the voice behind the narrative and the reason for Sandeep Singh’s drive in the film. She is herself a national-level hockey player but we just see glimpses of it. Would she continue to be with him post his paralysed stage? You need to watch the film to find out.
Angad Bedi is cast perfectly as Diljit’s brother (Bikramjeet Singh), who discovers Diljit’s ‘drag flick’ and transforms him from an amateur to a national level champion. Angad stands like a rock as Diljit’s life gets tougher. The director captures this special bond beautifully and there are some stand-out scenes of the actors together. One particular one when the national player returns to India after six-months of rehab, without his wheel chair, is heartwarming.
A good sportsman needs the right coach who believes in him and Vijay Raaz fills that space in ‘Soorma’. His acting is impressive and so are the punch lines written for him. As a silent coach without much drama, he shines in this full-fledged role he has rightly earned. Other roles include Satish Kaushik as the helpless but proud father who see his son fall to the lowest point and then shine as a hero, Kulbhushan Kharbanda as the supportive federation chairman among others.
After a string of box office misses, Shaad Ali takes up the task of telling a story of a hockey legend in a cricket-crazy country and manages to keep us glued. The film might, in bits, come across as documentary-ish as it ticks all the career achievements of Sandeep Singh. Time will tell if ‘Soorma’ will find its place in the biopics made on Indian sportsmen.
Despite its minor flaws, ‘Soorma’ is a film crafted with care and a story that needs to be watched.