Cast: Dilijit Dosanjh, Tapsee Pannu, Angad Bedi, Vijay Raaz, Kulbushan Kharbanda and Satish Kaushik
Directed by Shaad Ali
Music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Lyrics by Gulzar
Cinematography Chirantan Das
Some stories simply deserve to be told. And the story of former hockey player and Arjuna Award recipient Sandeep Singh is one such tale.
There was a time when I used to wonder why Indian cinema never takes on biopics or real-life events like the West. And now here we are , going through a phase, where we have one every other fortnight. And this fascinating human story of athlete Sandeep Singh’s is the latest to hit the screens and a welcome one too. Especially in a cricket obsessed nation, where tabloids have enough space to discuss every cricketer’s new hairstyle, it would be a pity if such inspiring stories go buried and forgotten. So kudos to Chitrangada Singh for backing this product and tying up with Sony Pictures for this venture.
Most of SOORMA’s first half takes a SULTAN-esque path to get there as we are introduced to the small town of Shahabad and the dreams of Sandeep and his family. Like many of the young kids in the town, where hockey is a religion, Sandeep too takes hockey coaching hoping for a successful future. However thanks to his stern coach and his coaching methods, the kid loses interest in the sport rather quickly. However, it is only much later in his youth that he gets back to the sport, when he has a chance encounter with a female hockey player Harpreet (Tapsee Pannu). As Harpeet goes on to play for India, Sandeep finds that a successful hockey career and a decent job courtesy his hockey is the only way to win Harpreet’s hand in marriage.
From there on, we see how Sandeep Singh rises to the ranks of the Indian Hockey team and becomes the sensational executer of the ‘drag-flick’ earning him the title ‘Flicker-Singh’.
However, a freak accident just days before a major tournament sees him getting almost paralysed with doctors stating that he may never get to walk again.
From there on it is the battle of man and his will power to not only stand on his feet, but also to step back onto the hockey field and lead the national team to international glory.
Director Shaad Ali, coming from a string of misfires like Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Kill Dill and OK Jaanu does not bother to take much risk with the material. He knows that he has a powerful story in his hands and he sticks to the basics, keeping the movie as close to reality as possible without throwing too many Bollywood liberties into it. As a result, it does not suffer from any of the SANJU-like faux play.
Yes, it has the setting up and love angle that contributes to the initial few bumpy reels, but once the movie gets its focus it goes full out swinging in the right direction. Technically the movie does not boast any of the prowess of the big budget productions, but Ali makes sure he gets the emotional moments of the movie right, and that is successfully done thanks to the wonderful performances he extracts from his cast.
Dilijit Dosanjh has this earnestness about him that makes you instantly connect to the character and that is used to the best, in bringing the charm and simplicity to the character of Sandeep Singh. Equally well supported is the ever dependable Taapsee Pannu. But some real shining performances come from Angad Bedi as Sandeep’s older brother and from Satish Kaushik as Sandeep’s father. They are especially good in the scenes as they deal with the aftermaths of the accident. Vijay Raaz is a welcome addition to any movie, as far as I am concerned, and here too he threatens to be a scene stealer from the word ‘go’ as the team coach.
What Ali does not get right though is the actual hockey sequences. It has pictured sans any energy, and the flatness gives the movie it’s biggest drawback when in compared to other sports flicks like Dangal, Sultan or Chak De. Even I felt the music, which is usually the strong point of a Shaad Ali film, is also a let down here. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy despite with the lyrics of Gulzar fails to churn out any real magic with only the romantic track Ishq Di Baajiyan managing to stand out. Sad, considering the impact that music usually can have in a sport based film. And equally surprising, because Shaad Ali does depend on songs to carry the movie forward in the second half.
Yes, in hindsight SOORMA could have been a much better product. If one goes to judge it on purely as a sports film, it falls drastically short.The film does provide certain info about his goal scoring spree, his record fast drag-flick etc. It also briefly brushes on the administration issues and how the hockey board struggles against their Cricket counterparts. But these are just on the surfaces and the makers never really dive into it. Instead Shaad Ali and Soorma scores whenever it is not trying to be about the sport. It works better as a emotional drama and rightly so, Ali focuses on the battle off-field. That is where the real drama happens as far as Sandeep Singh is concerned.
Soorma provides enough to be the inspirational heartwarming experience that merits your attention, despite all its shortcomings.