'Soorma' review: A sports biopic that works and how!

Movie: Soorma

Rating: 4/5 stars

Director: Shaad Ali

Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Taapsee Pannu, Angad Bedi, Danish Husain, Pitobash, Herry Tangiri, Vijay Raaz, Kulbhushan Kharbanda

When I think of Bollywood sports movies, Lagaan and Chak De! India are the first two that spring to mind. Lagaan is pleasant but low on the rewatch scale. Chak De! is one of the better and more memorable achievements in the genre. I went into Soorma knowing very little about hockey player Sandeep Singh and this movie has somehow converted me into a Sandeep fan.

The biopic is the true story of international player Sandeep who was paralysed after an accidental gunshot and was forced to battle impossible odds to make a comeback. Diljit Dosanjh is a natural as Sandeep and really makes you believe in the character. The physicality of the actor and the portrayal of hockey skills can make or break a film like this and Soorma shows an impressive attention to detail in these aspects. This is a hockey showcase on an exhilarating, elevated level that leaves something like Chak De! in the dust. I especially enjoyed the nuances of the technique called "drag flicking" that gave Sandeep his nickname "Flicker Singh".

Sandeep’s story feels like fantasy but it works because of the truths on which the tale is built. The real-life Sandeep is apparently proud of the film and it’s not surprising as the drama, pathos and conflicts in the writing never feel excessive or overdone. I was initially worried that a sports biopic would have a love story at its centre. However, Soorma never gives in to cliches or tested formulas. Taapsee Pannu’s character Harpreet is luminous on screen and is a refreshing change from regular love interests as her choices are not governed by what Sandeep wants. In fact, the story flows in a number of unexpected directions without ever meandering.

I do have some minor quibbles. The songs were not many but they definitely slowed down the pace of a movie that is actually edited pretty tightly. The opening scenes, and some later ones, with birds in a field are a perfect example of awful CGI creations that take you out of a film. Fortunately, these elements do not leave a major impact on the viewer.

Soorma is the kind of film that surprises, inspires, makes you teary at the right moments and leaves you with an air of positivity when it’s done. A definite 4/5 from me!

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'Soorma' review: A sports biopic that works and how!

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