SOORMA (2018)

  • Release Date : 13/07/2018
  • Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Angad Bedi, Tapsee Pannu, Satish Kaushik, Vijay Raaz
  • Director: Shaad Ali

Soorma is the retelling of the inspiring true story of Indian Hockey legend Sandeep Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) who has been clocked as the fastest drag-flicker in the history of the sport. Not only has he brought laurels for India in different international events but has also successfully fought against a crippling injury caused by a stray bullet. Soorma takes us deep into the life of this exceptional man who did it all for the woman he loved before landing up in a world of pain and rising out of it like a phoenix, re-discovering himself and finding his true calling for his country.

A few weeks ago I reviewed Sanju and raised a question on whether it was necessary to make a biopic on the life of a man like Dutt. I didn’t feel it worthy of being made into a film. Well, Soorma leaves no room for any such doubts. This is the kind of film that should be made and our young generation should be made to watch a film like this to be inspired and enthralled. Sandeep loved only one woman in his life (that’s what they show). He never did drugs. He fought hard for his country and family. When he feels that he has been sidelined by the girl he loved because of his crippling injury he fights back even harder to win his life back and he does so in great style. Even taking into account all the additives that a film like this comes with, this is the kind of story that deserves retelling.

To many, this film will appear slow in the first half and I too felt that it was but it never lagged to a point where it got boring. I was completely invested in the romance between Sandeep and Harpreet (Tapsee Pannu) which forms a large chunk of the first half. It has been a while since I saw such a simple and innocent romance unfold on screen with so little being said and done. It just struck a chord with me. The way they looked at each other. The way they reacted in each other’s company. Be it the first meeting, the boy’s desire to impress the girl, the 2-minute meetings that demanded almost “Tom Clancy” like planning. It all just clicked for me. Hence when the story takes a different turn in the second half, it felt that much more heartbreaking.

The highest points of the film are the sequences where Sandeep is bedridden. The portion where we see his family finding it difficult to make ends meet. The sequences where we see a jilted wheel-chair bound Sandeep throw tantrums and his brother (played masterfully by Angad Bedi) giving it back to him. These sequences hit you deep where it hurts and when finally Sandeep makes it out of his drudgery, you get the perfect release of the tension and morose that you had been carrying all this while.

Diljit Dosanjh is electric as Sandeep Singh. His act is so natural, innocent and heartbreaking that it is difficult not to be in the awe of his performance. Sandeep’s innocent romance with Harpreet, his camaraderie with his brother and his searing competition with men on the field is brought breathtakingly to life by Dosanjh who I believe did a better job than anyone else could. “Mai Drag-Flicker hoon???” (I am a drag-flicker???) He asks his brother in surprise seconds after learning that a ploy he used all this while to shoo off birds from his field was actually the toughest shot in hockey. The way he smiles with all his teeth out when he sees Harpreet and his expression of grief and helplessness are just a few of the things that will remain with the viewers long after the film is over.

Not many will notice, but I think this is one of Tapsee Pannu’s best acts in recent times. It will rank right up there with Pink and Naam Shabana. Not only has she transformed into a believable hockey player but she gets her emotions and expression spot on. The fact that her chemistry with Dosanjh works so well only adds to the charm of her overall act. Sporting a de-glam look, she is still a screen stealer and a terrific actress.

Angad Bedi keeps proving that he can be a good actor in the hands of the right director. I didn’t expect such a nuanced and balanced performance from him but he really surprised me with his humility and understanding of the role. In many scenes, he overtakes Dosanjh thanks to the emotional depth that he brings to his character. This role should open up doors for him in getting better roles than playing one of Salman’s 3 sidekicks. Vijay Raaz is delightful in a small role that has a lot of comic relief to offer. Kulbhushan Kharbanda is ever reliable. Satish Kaushik is great as usual.

My only complaints with the film were with the choreography of the hockey matches and a lack of it too. For a film that is based on the life of Sandeep Singh, there was just not enough sports action. Also for people like me who are used to watching live hockey matches, the perspective that the director takes to showing us the action felt awkward and indicated to either a lack of resources to dramatize a full-blown international match or a simple lack of intent to do so. In both circumstances, it’s a major let down. With some more sports action, the film would have been even more thrilling. Add to that some good sports choreography and that could give us an idea of the speed and physicality involved in it and that would make this film an instant classic (think, Lagaan’s cricket match).

Having said all that, I still loved Soorma. It has an inspiring story to tell. It is engaging and it makes us a party to the tale. It is clean, innocent and heartwarming with standout performances from the ensemble cast. Sandeep Singh is the role model that this generation deserves and Soorma is the biopic that deserves to be made. Enough of gangsters, drug fiends and womanizers. Give this true hero a chance.

Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars) 

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