A young hockey player is working on his drag-flicks in a dark corner of a practice turf when a suit-clad official asks him to leave.
The player reasons how important the practice is for him and the official is impressed. On official’s orders, the turf is lit up. The aspiring youngster also gets a bag of new hockey balls. The intrigued player suggests that the hockey federation may not like it. The suit replies, “I am the federation.”
The undertone of the scene hints that Soorma, a biopic on former India captain Sandeep Singh, prefers to stay away from anything controversial and confines itself well within the realm of a love-story.
A small town boy from Haryana, Sandeep (Diljit Dosanjh) gets serious about hockey late in life, but that doesn’t stop him from earning the India cap within two years. He is naturally gifted and self trained, but the real motivation behind his game is Harpreet (Taapsee Pannu), a member of the India women squad.
Just when Sandeep’s game and love life begin taking shape, he accidentally gets shot in the ribs. From here on, Soorma is an ode to his comeback, decorated with syrupy songs and Diljit’s characteristic humour.
Soorma is designed as a story of good yet tough guys: good players, good Samaritans and good administrators. There isn’t much of a conflict. We always know where it is heading.
Director Shaad Ali pulls the strings the moment Soorma starts looking like a sports film. He wants to keep the focus on a heartbroken hockey player’s boy-to-man journey. Sandeep’s hockey never comes to the forefront. Shaad Ali tells us his achievements in as many words.
The screen freezes and a ticker announces his drag-speed to be the fastest in the world. It’s a simplistic approach that probably lacks the essence of real-life effort and struggles. It’s more like an inspirational story than a biopic.
The occasional sparks come from a Bihari coach Harry (Vijay Raaz is again a show-stealer), who believes in talking tough and acting tougher. It’s a man’s world with the only woman, Taapsee, slowly fading into the background. Or, maybe this was her entire purpose in the film. After all, a heroine is a must. What will happen to the songs otherwise!
Sandeep was around 20 when he was shot. On that front, Diljit looks older, but this is least of his problems. His body language isn’t exactly like that of a hockey player. The difference is even more evident when Sandeep’s real life brother and a hockey player, Bikramjeet (as Pakistani player Tanveer), shares scenes with Diljit.
‘Desi’ humour has been Diljit’s strength in many of his films. He tries to replicate the formula, but this time it’s not charming. In comparison, Angad Bedi emerges as a capable actor who changes tone as per the scenes.
In fact, two of the best scenes in Soorma belong to Angad and Satish Kaushik. The first one has Angad looking at Diljit’s legs. He conveys a lot without saying anything. The second has an incredible Satish Kaushik mumbling to himself. Unfortunately, these can’t suffice for a predictable central plot.
Soorma doesn’t attempt to probe beyond the obvious, even if you don’t know the real story. With 131-minute duration, Soorma presents Sandeep as the ultimate boy scout. A tinge of reality wouldn’t have hurt.
Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Tapsee Pannu, Angad Bedi
Director: Shaad Ali