In Hindi Cinema, it is very tough to get the biopic right, especially when it is a sports biopic. This is because the writers and directors do not want to show the countless hours these athletes spend training but want the audience to rather watch them play the sport alone. Of course, there are some biopics that get it right, like Dangal, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Mary Kom. These were films that showed the sweat and blood. But when Shaad Ali makes a film, you do not expect a Saathiya out of him again. You don’t expect him to put that attention to detail again. But unlike his previous few outings, Soorma does succeed to a certain extent but I don’t think I’d give him a lot of credit for the same. In this film, the actors do most of the work.
Since the beginning of the film, I wanted to see the nuances of the sport, but I didn’t. There is a good amount of humor, a decent deal of emotions but sport wise, this film doesn’t do the trick, and it’s supposed to be a sports biopic. I would have had no problem with the game being sidelined had it been about this man (Sandeep Singh) and his personal life, but you can’t let his love life be centered in a film about his ambition to play for India.
The story is very promising. Sandeep Singh (played by Diljit Dosanjh) falls in love with Harpreet (played by Taapsee Pannu) and in order to woo her, he starts playing hockey. But when it comes to marrying her, her brother says “kuch kar ke dikha phir haath mangna.” And our hero goes to play for India to marry this girl. In due course of time, he is shot, gets paralyzed waist down, can’t play anymore, then he gets treated and plays again. Great story, but is this executed well? No. The biggest reason why this doesn’t work as it should have is that Ali has tried to tell this story primarily as a love story.
The reason why Soorma works great even after having a slow(ish) pace is the wonderful cast. Diljit Dosanjh is an actor so innocent and sincere, that it sometimes breaks your heart. He plays the character of Sandeep Singh to perfection. Whether it is him struggling in life in his late teens, falling in love, trying to win over his love or trying to win gold for the country, his efforts don’t show, but the fruits of his efforts do. And that is the true brilliance of an actor.
Taapsee Pannu is one of my favourite actresses and like Dosanjh, even she brings her best to the table. She can play amazing hockey, we know she dances well and her expressions and dialogue delivery have always been on-point. But is this role for her? Perhaps not. It sure is a fairly decent role, but it keeps her restricted. Harpreet comes and goes according to convenience and that is anything but Pannu. Almost absent from the second part, the worst part about her character is that she doesn’t get any closure!
Angad Bedi delivers his best performance too. As Sandeep’s brother, Bedi is there to support his blood and make sure that India wins gold and even their chemistry. In fact, the best moments in the film are shared between these two brothers. Dosanjh does share some very beautiful moments with Pannu too, but his chemistry with Bedi is stronger.
The amazing Vijay Raaz also makes an appearance as Sandeep’s coach and is given the best lines. He is beyond hilarious and beyond great.
All in all, Soorma is a one time watch, only and only for the performances. Had it not been for Dosanjh and Pannu, this film could have fallen to pieces.
If I had to rate the film, in 2007, Sandeep is shown wearing CORE by Jack & Jones. Was CORE launched then? (I am not sure).