Every country has heroes – be it sportsmen or scientists – and India has their share of heroes as well. However, not every biopic is meant to be screened in Pakistan and that’s exactly what has happened to Soorma, Sandeep Singh’s biopic who is as unknown an entity in Pakistan as Khalid Bashir is in India. Mind you, Khalid Bashir was the best penalty corner specialist until the arrival of Sohail Abbas who remains the world’s top scorer, even though Bollywood made a film on Sandeep Singh because he had an interesting back story. It was not as good as two unreleased films in Pakistan – Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and MS Dhoni: An Untold Story – both of whom were not screened in Pakistan for sentimental reasons. Soorma should have been the third one on the list as people left the theatre as they could make neither head nor tail of the story because they don’t know the person on whom it was based.
The film revolves around the life and times of Sandeep Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) who took up hockey to be near his girlfriend Harpreet (Tapsee Pannu) who was also a hockey player and helped Sandeep better his game by practicing with him. After his brother Bikramjeet (Angad Bedi) couldn’t make it to the Indian side, he became a mentor to Sandeep and helped him become of the best drag-flickers in the world. An incident changed Sandeep’s life during his first year as an international hockey player and left Sandeep paralyzed below the waist. What happened next is something you should experience in the cinema, because that’s what makes this film more interesting.
The lead cast, as well as the supporting cast, did an excellent job including Diljit Dosanjh, Tapsee Pannu and Angad Bedi who played the brother who never played for India. Satish Kaushik as the father, Vijay Raaz as the coach and Kulbhushan Kharbanda as the ‘Chairman’ also chipped in with powerful performances. Diljit played Sandeep before and after the accident in different ways and his character matured with the passage of time. Tapsee keeps surprising with every film and one hopes that the beautiful actress will look even better in the upcoming Mulk. What's more surprising is that some of the scenes had on-screen spectators chanting Jeeway Jeeway Pakistan as the director Shaad Ali tried to stay as realistic as possible.
A hockey film with amateur execution of a hockey match is not just a bad thing but criminal; international matches were played in picturesque grounds but the match on the AstroTurf didn’t seem like the matches we have seen in Chak De India or might witness in the upcoming Gold. Furthermore, the national anthem of India was censored and with it, the climax, cheating the audience who expected a complete film in exchange for their money. Too much emphasis was given on a romance that was never there in the second half whereas Sandeep’s return from rehabilitation could have been more dramatic than it was on screen. Furthermore, Pakistanis were shown as ruthless hockey players when we all know that they can’t be ruthless even if their lives depended on it.
The Verdict 2/5
The film has been written and directed by the talented Shaad Ali who has given us Saathiya and Bunty Aur Bubbly in the past. However, with Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Kill Dill, OK Jaanu and nowSoorma, his graph seems to be going downwards. Soorma could have been a brilliant film had the scenes been linked (instead of fade to black), had the director worked hard on hockey scenes instead of the scenery, had Indo-Pak rivalry been minimal, had the film been better edited and had it been released at some other time, when Sanju was not on the screen. You need to have a bigger, better and more beautiful film to make cinema people give you better shows in the presence of Sanju but with average content and censored sequences, you don’t get your money’s worth. Just like Sanjuwho keeps on acting, Sandeep keeps playing hockey but in a country where no one knows the name of its Hockey captain, watching a film about an Indian player was always going to be tricky. Watch only if you are a die-hard hockey fan which is already quite less in number on this side of the Wagah!