Director: Shaad Ali
Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Taapsee Pannu, Angad Bedi, Vijay Raaz
Sports dramas and biopics in Bollywood can be divided into three categories – films with undertones of soft nationalism like Lagaan, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Dangal, then there are stories of personal struggles like Paan Singh Tomar, Mukkabaaz, and finally the feel-good coming-of-age stories like Jo Jita Wahi Sikander. Soorma – a biopic on former Indian hockey team captain Sandeep Singh, directed by Shaad Ali – seamlessly covers all three aspects without the jingoism, albeit with a token India-Pakistan match.
Sandeep Singh, played by Diljit Dosanjh, throughout the film is repeatedly asked one question – who does he play for? For the love of his love? For his family? Or for his country? The film is about how this player with extraordinary talent and grit finds answer to the question. The story of the country’s fastest drag-flicker is quite inspirational. The rising career of India’s promising hockey star came to an abrupt halt when he was shot in a freak accident. He was declared paralysed waist down. But the player, who was given the moniker ‘Flicker Singh’, made it back to the Indian team through sheer grit and determination.
The film opens in the small town of Shahabad in Haryana. A young, precocious Sandeep is not happy with the harsh methods employed by the town’s only hockey coach. He decides not to return to the hockey field after the coach reprimands him for getting the wrong kind of samosa. But in this town, hockey is a way of life, a means for young boys and girls to secure a place in the national team and, thereby, land a comfortable government job. Life brings him back to the hockey field when he meets Harpreet, played by Taapsee Pannu.
Harpreet lives in a strange dichotomous world. On one hand, she is encouraged to play hockey for the country, on the other, her major decisions, whether it’s her sporting career or her love life, are taken by the men (coach and her brother) in her life. Nine years after he vowed never to play hockey, Sandeep embraces the sport again to prove Harpreet’s family that he is worthy of her love.
In Soorma, Dosanjh brings his brand of innocence and gentleness that made him so endearing in Udta Punjab. Sandeep’s transition from a happy-go-lucky Sardar to a serious hockey player is captured well by Dosanjh. There is honesty and earnestness when he talks about his future with Harpreet, a house with three kids, honeymoon in Switzerland. His love could have easily been misconstrued as obsession, but Diljit makes it look cute and sincere. The film’s heart is not in its romance, but in the relationship shared by two brothers. Sandeep’s brother Vikram (played by the impressive Angad Bedi) too harboured the dream of playing for the Indian hockey team, but that never materialised. Instead of getting dejected, he mentors his younger brother, who means the world to him. The scene where Sandeep, after getting selected for the national team wants to share the news first with his brother and not mother, perfectly captures the love shared between the two brothers.
The film is supported by actors such as Vijay Raaz as coach Harry, Khulbushan Kharbanda as chairperson of the hockey federation, Satish Kaushik as Sandeep’s father who perk up the film when it begins to drag. It also subtly touches upon a hockey player’s unglamourous life; starkly different from the lives of cricketers, the hockey players travel in trains, worry about money and fight to get funds for treatment.
But the one thing that the film fails at is in doing justice to Taapsee’s character. In the beginning of the film, Harpreet is seen as a talented player who gets to represent the Indian team. She is also the driving force behind Sandeep’s hockey career. But the film, in its attempt to do justice to the story of a player, forgets another player. Bollywood’s biggest flaw is not recognising interesting story arcs with strong women characters and Soorma too, forgets to include Harpreet’s story.
The Soorma review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.