Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Taapsee Pannu, Angad Bedi, Vijay Raaz
Direction: Shaad Ali
Shaad Ali’s ‘Soorma’, based on the life of former Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh, is an incredible saga of a man who battled paralysis and made a comeback to the national side.
This inspirational story slackens now and then, but the premise and its treatment, make it eminently watchable.
The plot charts Singh’s implausible journey. A late entrant into the game, he manages an unbelievable transformation to become a national hockey player, before an accidental gunshot leaves him partially paralysed and wheelchair-bound.
How Singh ((played by Diljit Dosanjh) surmounts these odds to lead the Indian hockey team to many memorable wins is the stuff dreams are made of.
The first half is essentially a flashback – a look at how Singh perseveres to train for hockey spurred on by the object of his affection, who is part of the women’s team. The second half sees him evolve into a genuine sportsman, his eyes set on the goal no matter how daunting the struggle.
While, the story starts off breezily, post the intermission the plot labours along, despite some genuinely engaging moments.
Diljit sinks his teeth into a role that requires a lot from him. He begins his portrayal as a carefree young boy, naïve and directionless. The gunshot accident leaves him physically and mentally broken, but he is determined to make a mark as one of India’s best hockey players ever. All the while, Singh’s brother and coach stand by him at every step and never doubt his ability as a truly gifted player.
The director manages to rope in an interesting supporting cast: Angad Bedi plays the older brother and Vijay Raaz, the coach. But despite ample screen time and some decent histrionics, they fail to make a lasting impression. It is as if something is amiss in the relationship dynamics. Their involvement in Singh’s ordeal and recovery, though integral, seems a little superfluous.
The romantic track between Diljit and Taapsee has a similar incomplete feel. Despite all the trappings of a good love story, the chemistry is missing. There is love, heartbreak and pining, but it is all not very convincing.
The best moments are the hockey matches that Singh dominates with his trademark ‘drag flick’. As the team’s principal aggressor against Pakistan, Diljit comes across as a natural.
The flaws notwithstanding, I would recommend ‘Soorma’. This is an inspiring story that needed to be told and needs to be watched. The movie may lack the sheen of some recent biopics, but I’d still say you go and watch it. Indian hockey, which probably deserves much more, deserves nothing less.