Direction: Shaad Ali
Production: Sony Pictures Networks India, Chitrangada Singh, Deepak Singh
Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Taapsee Pannu, Angad Bedi, Satish Kaushik, Vijay Raaz
Screenplay: Shaad Ali, Siva Ananth, Suyash Trivedi
Cinematography: Chirantan Das
Editing: Farooq Hundekar
Music: Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Hindi / Biography, Sport / 131 Mins / India / 2018
Let’s talk about the problematic part first. One of the places where Shaad Ali fails to deliver in Soorma is when Sandeep Singh - portrayed exceptionally by Diljit Dosanjh - is in coma post a bullet that hit his spinal cord and grazed other vital organs. For all the seriousness of his injury Dosanjh continues to look healthy and rosy cheeked in scene after scene, when in reality Singh had lost around 40 percent of his body weight in that period of 4-6 weeks hospitalization! That said, Ali has risen to the occasion and directed a biopic which will counted amongst its ilk as a very fine example.
And that is thanks in no small measure to Dosanjh too, who has done a stupendous job of playing Sandeep Singh – a little known legend of Indian Hockey. The film is a sensitive portrayal of one man’s journey who, at the peak of his game was rendered incapacitated because of an accidental bullet wound, and who made his comeback after two years. The history is not that old either – this happened as recently as August 2006. Yet, there is little public memory of Singh and his travails even though he has brought a lot of glory to the country (before and after the incident) through his exceptional game and technique as the world’s top drag flicker.
Dosanjh is a natural when it comes to playing slice of life. He remains grounded even as a real life hero and that spells a fine actor. Here he plays the unassuming but determined Singh, a lovable bloke driven by his love for Harpreet (Taapsee Pannu in a great supportive role) to start playing hockey. His only goal is to win her over and she wants to see him in the Indian hockey team. She is his sole driving passion till he realizes that he has to play for the right reasons. The film captures nuances of their relationship through quiet, contemplative moments; through ordinariness of the conversations; through one-liners between parents and siblings and between coaches and players. Barring a scene or two, the very mundane is what strikes you as extraordinary - much like the real Sandeep Singh, who is not given to drama – either on or off the field. He is the epitome of equanimity and Ali successfully captures his personality and his game - speaking of which Dosanjh learned hockey under Singh and Bikramjit Singh while preparing for the role.
Not just Dosanjh but the supporting cast is understated and quiet too. Be it Kulbhushan Kharbanda (that immensely talented actor who returns after a hiatus to essay the Indian Hockey Federation chairman here); Vijay Raaz as Singh’s tough-outside-and-softie-inside coach at the Patiala Academy; Satish Kaushik as the father and Angad Bedi as Singh’s older brother Bikram. Bedi ups his performance from Pink and is sure to be noticed by makers in time to come.
Shankar Ehsaan Loy come up with a rousing music score once again, particularly so the title track. Soorma reminds you that no mountain is insurmountable if the human spirit decides to pick up the gauntlet. That Soorma is not just a courageous warrior in a battlefield. He is someone who will win – no matter the odds and no matter which field. And that, no challenge is big enough if your real desire comes from a passion to serve your country.