At one point in Soorma, Taapsee Pannu's character tells Diljit Dosanjh's Sandeep Singh, "Life mein goal hoga na, toh yahan bhi ho jayegaa". If you had to ask me then this line perfectly sums up the spirit of the film. With biopics back in vogue, Shaad Ali derives inspiration for his outing from the life story of hockey champion Sandeep Singh who made headlines for his miraculous comeback in the sport after facing a near-death experience. However beneath the inspiring story of sheer determination and triumph also lies a tender love story.
Soorma opens in Shahabad in the year 1994 where a young Sandeep Singh dreams to be a part of the Indian hockey team. However, his interest soon weans off when his unreasonably strict coach rebukes him. Years pass by and the carefree lad picks up the hockey stick once again when he gets smitten with another player Harpreet (Taapsee Pannu). She reignites his passion for the game and he soon earns the moniker of 'Flicker Singh' for his drag-flicks.
However, things take an awry turn when Sandeep becomes paralysed waist-down after being hit by an accidental gunshot in the Shatabdi Express train while on his way to join the national team due to leave for the World Cup in Germany. Harpreet is forced to make a hard choice. The rest of the plot revolves around how Sandeep bounces back with grit and determination and proves that he's a 'Soorma' in life as well.
The first half of Soorma is built up of moments of the making of the hero. There's a generous splash of light moments throughout which makes for an engaging narrative with some frothy romance between the lead pair.
However post interval, the tone of the film turns intense and that's where dullness sets in. Too much of melodrama makes the emotions go haywire and you fall short of feeling for the characters leaving you unsatiated when the climax finally sets in. Shaad Ali's writing too wobbles at places leaving room for inconsistencies.
Speaking about performances, Diljit Dosanjh is the heart of Soorma and owns almost every frame in the film. His understanding of the depth of his character is astonishing which clearly shows on the celluloid. He exudes a child-like innocence, at the same time, he can even deliciously relish an intense scene. Some more of this man, please!
Taapsee Pannu impresses yet again but, a little more fleshing of her role would have added more to the charm. Angad Bedi is top-notch in what's expected of him. Satish Kaushik leaves a mark whereas, Vijay Raaz makes sure you never have a dull moment whenever he's on-screen.
On the flip side, Shaad Ali's direction and writing lack the cinematic drama which is needed for a solid subject like this. While the film scores high on extensive research, it falters when it comes to keeping you on the edge of your seats. Those looking out for goosebumps-inducing moments, be prepared to get disappointed.
Chiratan Das's cinematography works fine. But, Farooq Hundekar's editing scissors should have been a tad sharper. Barring the Soorma anthem, none of the songs has a recall value. A disappointing musical fare by Shankar Ehsaan Loy.
In a nutshell, Soorma has its heart at the right place but its beats are heard faintly. Diljit Dosanjh hits a goal with his brilliant acting masterstroke but ends up losing the match; blame it on Shaad Ali's flaccid direction which strikes yet again! Sandeep Singh's story of the triumph of human spirit needed a better storyteller. I am going with 2.5 stars.