Soorma means 'warrior' in Punjabi. Going by the inspiring life of hockey player Sandeep Singh aka Flicker Singh, there is no apt title than this for a biopic made on his life. Shaad Ali directs this movie that stars Diljit Dosanjh and Taapsee Pannu in the lead. Can Soorma follow the footsteps of Chak De India and Dangal to deliver a rousing sports film? Read our review to find out -
In his early days, Sandeep Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) had no ambitions of playing hockey, content to while his time away under the shadow of his elder brother, Bikramjit (Angad Bedi), a committed hockey player. That is, until he falls for Harpreet (Taapsee Pannu), another hockey player aspiring to play for India. To win her love, Sandeep starts training to play hockey, encouraged by his brother who discovers his special skill for drag flick. With Sandeep's determination and his natural talent, he soon finds his way into the national team and earns the moniker, Flicker Singh. Everything was going fine for him, including his romance with Harpreet, until an accident leaves him paralysed and his hockey career in the doldrums. The rest of the movie is how Sandeep Singh rises from the ashes like a phoenix to be back on the top of his game.
Soorma comes two weeks after another biopic, Sanju, is breaking all sorts of records at the box office. We don't expect Soorma to make that kind of business, do we? But a well-made movie does get its reward. So does Soorma qualify to be called that? Yes and no.
The life of hockey player, Sandeep Singh, is definitely inspiring and deserves to be made a movie over any white-washing propaganda material. There is a lot to be learned from a man who is willing to go to any lengths for his love, and fight against all odds to emerge a victor in the end. And in these times, we need movies made on icons that should inspire the youth, rather cheer for a controversial figure. So in this aspect, the entire team of Soorma deserves a pat on the back.
As a movie itself, Soorma is a very breezy affair, filled with some light-hearted moments and then some touching ones. The first half, especially, is quite cheer-worthy, as it shows Sandeep's coming-of-age turn as an international hockey player. Not that the first half was flaw-free, since they could have easily trimmed off his childhood portions. Also, some might draw parallels of certain plotlines with Salman Khan's Sultan and Aamir Khan's Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander. Sandeep's overnight change of heart to push himself overboard in hockey training for a girl he just met once is a little hard to believe as well.
But these minor quibbles can be ignored, since the writers make things easy for the viewer to invest in Sandeep's journey in becoming a national champ. We root for him as he flicks his way to every sports fan's hearts through his rigorous training sessions to playing against Pakistan in his first international tournament. His romance with Harpreet feels natural, and his portions with his national coach (Vijay Raaz) are pleasing. The comic bits work too. Check out the scene where Sandeep tries to rag another player with his senior status, only for a wicked twist in the tale. So far so good.
It's towards the post-interval portions that things start falling apart not just for Sandeep, but also for the viewer. Not that the second half is bereft of any positives. The scenes where Sandeep deals with the magnitude of his condition are heart-breaking. Also, every scene involving him interacting with his brother will leave a mark. The Soorma title track is inspiring and comes at a very crucial moment.
So what's wrong? There is a slack in the proceedings, as the makers choose to milk melodrama out of his predicament. Sandeep's win over his paralysis is dealt in a song and it is never a fist-pumping moment, which it should have been. Also, the final match (against perennial favourite rivals Pakistan) is dealt with in a hasty manner and leaves us asking for more. Sure, they didn't dramatise the event like Dangal did with its last match, but a better execution would have made the audience leave the theatres on a more positive note. Even Harpreet is most often relegated to the sideline, till she turns up in the end to be the punchline of the movie.
The portions involving IHF members with lackadaisical attitude could have been avoided or written in a better way. Haven't we seen such scenes in many sports movies before?
Still, this is one of director Shaad Ali's better efforts than most of his recent ventures. The hockey portions, though lacking the finesse of Chak De India, are well choreographed. The cinematography by Chirantan Das makes Soorma easy to watch. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, along with Tubby, delivers a pleasing background score. But the music, except for the title track, is just average.
The biggest takeaway from Soorma, apart from its inspiring tale, is the acting display. In a career-defining performance when it comes to Bollywood, Diljit Dosanjh delivers a flawless act that should win him more fans this side of Punjab. He exudes so much natural charm in every scene, be it his carefree flirting, or showing his unassuming nature towards his own talent or when he gets on the ground to deliver that drag flick. The highlight of his performance is his breakdown scene at the hospital when he helplessly gets himself wet. You also can't help but admire the efforts Diljit took to get that toned look in the final portions of the movie. This is one of the better-performed roles of the year, and hopefully, gets Diljit more prominence in Bollywood.
Taapsee Pannu shines once again as the determined girl who is willing to take the fall for being a ditcher in love than take care of her beloved, just so that he can rise above the odds. Her Punjabi dialect is also good. Compared to his other movies, Angad Bedi gets a meatier role here and he delivers with panache. His scenes with Diljit stand tall among the rest, and he is especially good in the sequence, where he gives his younger brother a reality check. Vijay Raaz as Sandeep's snarky but benevolent coach is on excellent form here, and has some of the best lines that play to the galleries. Kulbushan Kharbanda and Satish Kaushik also deliver heart-warming performances. However, some of the junior artistes do tend to go overboard with some awkward, OTT acts.
- An inspiring story that deserves a movie
- A winsome first half
- Diljit Dosanjh
- Strong supporting performances
- Cinematography and background score
- A little more polished execution needed
- A less impactful second-half
- A hasty conclusion
- Could have avoided rolling in Punjabi caricatures (though, thankfully, doesn't go overboard)
- Average music
Soorma delivers on an inspiring premise of a hero whose tale needs to be seen by everyone and from some excellent performances from the cast. The movie is definitely a highlight in Diljit Dosanjh's career, though we wish the flaws could have been ironed out to make a far more impactful movie. A harmless one-time watch that might motivate you to take that hockey stick and try that drag flick!