Sandeep – The Soorma

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 14 Jul 2018 14:23:51




By Aasawari Shenolikar,

It’s raining biopics. This weekend the limelight is focused on a sportsperson, who fought against all odds and rose, from the lowest depths, like a Phoenix to become the undisputed king of the turf once again. Shaad Ali delves into the life of Sandeep Singh, better known as Flicker Singh for his inimitable drag flick action, and brings on the screen the highs and extreme lows of his journey – both on and off the field. Many a time it is a double delight because the film is so well made that it completely engrosses you and the zeal and excitement unfolding on the screen so engulfs you that you become a part of the moment that is taking place on the big canvas.

Shaad Ali deftly manages to draw you into Sandeep Singh’s life, but he is unable to generate the ardour, devotion and passion towards the game that made him a national pride, and etched his name as the ‘hockey player to have played the fastest drag flick.’ At 145 per km hour, this was definitely not a mean feat. And the success was sweeter because this one was achieved in his second innings. A stray bullet, accidentally fired, lodged into his lower back and put an end to his glorious first innings, an innings which he took up so that he could woo the girl of his dreams, who was already a part of the Indian hockey squad.

The fist half, thus, focuses on Sandeep Singh (Diljeet Dosanjh) picking up the stick for that would be his ticket to a job and marrying his sweetheart. That he is a master of drag flick, one of the toughest strokes in hockey is discovered accidentally by elder brother Bikramjeet Singh (Angad Bedi), who is also a great hockey player, but unfortunate not a part of the Indian squad. Under Bikram’s guidance, Sandeep Singh makes the move to NIS Patiala, and from then, despite his fragile temperament, he is able to make a place for himself in the Indian team. But before Sandeep could play the World Cup, tragedy strikes and he is paralysed from waist downwards. The family plays a huge part in his healing process, so does Harpreet (Tapasee Pannu), who takes a tough stand and leaves him to fight his own battle. As she tells her mother, ‘If I don’t leave him, he will not make any efforts to stand on his feet again.’ Even as Sandeep is wallowing in self pity, Bikram jolts him out of this state and helps him, not only to fling the wheelchair aside, but also helps him prepare to be a part of the Indian team. Flicker Singh is back – on the turf, ready to ensure that it is the Indian flag that unfurls at the end of major international competitions.

All the ingredients that go into the making of a great sports film are there – the training, the strict coaches whom you hate but in your heart of hearts know that if it wasn’t their exacting regimen and authoritarian attitude, great players would never have seen light of the day, a few conniving officials, a few who genuinely wanted to help the cause of the game, a little bit of romance – but what is missing in Soorma is the competitive spirit, what is missing is that hunger that drives a player to excel and give more than his hundred percent, what is missing is the intense strategy of the team and the coach, all this is so necessary to make the movie compelling. Sadly, there was no focus on the great moments in important matches. A couple of matches were very mechanically canned – any guesses between which teams? No prizes here for the correct guesses – they were between Indian and Pakistan, with the blues winning in the end. There was not one moment when you wanted to get up and cheer for the men in blue, where you so wanted to scream ‘Go India Go!’ There was no Chak De moment, there was no Dangal moment. Emotions ran dry when he was recuperating in the rehab. Because somewhere deep down the nagging feeling that he is not doing it for his country but for his own selfish gains was predominant. Of course, at one point of time he agrees to this and makes amends by stating that his game is now for his country only. The end is pretty abrupt.

For his valiant, Soorma efforts, and his dedication that came much later, Sandeep Singh, who led the Indian national team and brought home the Azlan Shah Cup in 2009, was bestowed with the Arjuna Award. And that does speak a lot about the player. Sandeep Singh’s name, for his sheer passion, dedication and commitment towards the game, will definitely go down the annals of Indian hockey, but the movie definitely will not be counted as ‘a great sports flick.’ You leave the theatre with an empty feeling. Shaad Ali chose the personal life over the professional and so hockey took a backseat in Soorma.

Diljeet Dosanjh who spent four months with Sandeep Singh to get into his character is excellent. What is not excellent is the music and the many songs that ruin many a moment that could have been perfect without the loud background cacophony. Angad Bedi shines. He has a meaty role. The coaches – Danish Hussain (coach at Singh’s native place) is outstanding and very realistic – threatening the players how he’d ruin their chances of playing if they as much as get out of the line even once. Vijay Razz as the NIS coach gets the best one liners – watch him when he confronts the gun totting UP crowd – ‘Yeh banduken andar rakh lo, Bihari hun, ek thook se dimag mein chhed bana doonga.’ Tapasee Pannu lends credible support, but one wishes that the director had given her more footage – as far as her hockey was concerned, for after all she was also a part of the Indian hockey team.

All said and done – Soorma is a soorma effort from Shaad Ali about Sandeep Singh – the Soorma. An applause worthy effort for bringing forth the life of a legend – even if it doesn’t break any box office records, it will compel many to Google Sandeep Singh and read about him. And possible get inspired by his never-say-die spirit!

The Hitavada Rating: OO1/2