Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Tapsee Pannu, Angad Bedi, Satish Kaushik, Kulbhushan Kharbanda,
Director: Shaad Ali
Rating: * * *
True to his name, Diljit Dosanjh’s earnestness as tragedy strengthened Sandeep Singh, Captain and Star drag-flicker for the Indian National hockey team, goes straight to your heart – the rest of it though is regular, fanciful, romantic, melodramatic, Bollywood tripe. And that’s a pity surely. This was meant to be a biopic about the comeback man who conquered his accidental disability with the grit and gumption of a true champion, but what it turns out to be instead is a whole lot of unverified drivel that latches it’s clutches onto a heroic struggle for validation, systematically invalidating that sterling unparalleled and valiant effort.
Hailing from Shahabad, Kurukshetra, Haryana, born to Gurcharan Singh and Daljit Kaur, educated at Shivalik Public School, Mohali, Sandeep (Diljit) already had an older brother Bikramjeet Singh (Angad Bedi) vying for a place in the Indian National Hockey team. Singh made his international debut in January 2004 in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Unfortunately, just when his career was rising and he was on his way to join the Indian team due to leave for the World Cup in Germany, he was felled by an accidental gunshot and his dreams lay shattered.
Director Shaad Ali who after ‘Saathiya’ and ‘Bunty Aur Babli’ has had a rather long meltdown in his career with clunkers like Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Ok Jaanu, Kill Dil, tries to resurrect his skills from the morass of inviability by fashioning this biopic with heavy doses of romance, steely resolve and emotion. And it works to some extent in that the lingo and music have a robust Punjabi rusticity to it, the performances – while larger than life, have a gravitating sincerity and the narrative spiel studded with prep-build-ups and intermittent field hockey sequences are fairly invigorating.
The problem though is in giving the faux romance (Taapsee Pannu as romantic fodder) too much meaning when Sandeep Singh’s heroics alone would have done the trick. I guess it would take a better director to tell the truth, as is- Shaad Ali certainly can’t lay claim to that distinction, neither can this side-tracked reflection of a valorous life!