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Revisiting Diljit Dosanjh’s Soorma As It Turns 5



Diljit Dosanjh loves playing real-life  characters. At a time when supposedly responsible filmmakers are  glorifying gangsters, terrorists and sociopaths in ostensible  bio-pics, Soorma, which  was  released  on July 13, 2018,  about the struggles of hockey champ Sandeep Singh to overcome crippling obstacles  to claim  a name  among sports legends,came as a gust of unpolluted air.

This is a  film that  needed to be made  , a story about  a man whom future generations need to know about and  look up to. Damn,  the  young need role models from  our everyday life, not imported super-heroes  who can’t save their own egos even as they purport to save civilization  from destruction.

Soorma serves up an appetizing homemade dish of inspirational drama  and some beautifully furtive flights  of flirtation where Diljit Dosanjh’s  Sandeep Singh courts Taapsee Pannu’s  Harpreet with  hockey and love songs. There is  a  resonant ring of authenticity to the courtship, as though director Shaad Ali were  addressing love  not as a second-hand emotion but a first-hand  dip into emotions that are so real and pure, they make us smile.

A  lot of the time Shaad’s narrative deploys the standards  sports tropes:  protagonist undertaking punishing  regiment,  cruel coache and  grueling tasks  for the hero , savage setbacks and those  inspiring songs about akela-chala-chal(very cutely redolent in  Gulzar’s  poetry). These  stereotypical signposts  of sportive cinema are sprinkled into Sandeep Singh’s  life-story with inspiring gusto.

Shaad Ali films Sandeep Singh’s  story with tremendous empathy. There are  no attempts to titivate the tale with an august aura,  or make the  characters more appealing than they really are. It is the  narrative’s good fortune that  it gets  the actors  it deserves. Not just Diljit Dosanjh who simply takes charge  of  Sandeep Singh’s character with pride and affection, but the rest  of cast who huddle together in a circle of shared kinship that  moved me to tears,  specially when Sandeep is wounded  by a near-fatal gunshot.

There  is  a  sequence where a man kindly inquires  about Sandeep’s health , and Sandeep’s father(played with  contagious compassion by Satish Kaushik) looks so forlorn  for a few minutes he   becomes every disappointed father who ever dreams  of seeing his child conquer  the world.

Angad Bedi as  Sandeep’s Veerji is also splendid.  Physically and emotionally potent,  Angad  makes the supportive sibling’s part look so real you wish you could take him home to be your  real-life bro. Vijay Raaz as Sandeep’s Bihari coach  reins in his emotions with expertise. Taapsee Pannu as the hockey player who is  wooed by Sandeep Singh has  seldom looked so  pretty.She lends emotional heft to the film’s second-half when she must move away from love to redeem  the loved one.

The  irony  of the situation is not lost on the  narrative. Director Shaad Ali, making as triumphant  a comeback after the  crippling  failures  of  Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom , Kill Dill and  OK Jaanu ,  as Sandeep Singh after the freak gunshot,  keeps the narrative straight and uncluttered. He gets fabulous support from  his leading man. Diljit Dosanjh makes the character and  his struggles look so artless  and  credible  you want to reach into the  innards  of  the  plot and hold the protagonist’s hand  and tell him, ‘It’s okay. You will be fine.I’ve suffered too.’

In a sequence like the one where  Diljit pleads and  rages over the  phone against  his beloved’s  seeming  betrayal . Diljit’s  gentle control over the  swelling  emotions is laudatory.

Don’t look for subtleties  in this tale of  valour and  resilience. In fact some  portions,for instance the  buildup in the train  to the gun-shot, are purposely constructed in a unvarnished  style  to impress on us the  immediacy  and  longevity of  a saga that  goes  beyond one individual’s  ability to  make  a comeback.

If Sandeep Singh was nicknamed  ‘Flicker Singh’ this film takes that flicker into sphere of  a burning flame. Soorma just makes you happy for  the unsung heroes whom cinema has the  power and reach to put on a pedestal.


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