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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Bollywood biopic celebrates shot Indian hockey hero


The remarkable story of an Indian hockey player who spent two years out of the game after being accidentally shot before returning to captain his country hits cinemas this week.

Read more: Pakistan to take part in hockey World Cup held in India

Sandeep Singh was travelling on a train in August 2006 when he was struck by a bullet that had been mistakenly fired by an officer of India’s Railway Protection Force.

The incident left Singh temporarily paralysed and many commentators speculated that his career was over, but after extensive treatment he returned to the national side in 2008 and later helped India towards a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

“It’s a very compelling story. The day I read about it I couldn’t put it down,” Shaad Ali, director of “Soorma”, which means “warrior” in Punjabi and Hindi, told AFP.

The Bollywood movie based on Singh’s life releases across India on Friday. Diljit Dosanjh plays the role of Singh while Taapsee Pannu is cast in the female lead. Singh, then a promising young player, was on his way to join his teammates before their departure for the Men’s Hockey World Cup in Germany when he was shot.

Read more: Remembering hockey king Mansoor Ahmed

Instead, he spent much of the next year in a wheelchair as he battled to regain the feeling in his legs. He then regained his fitness and place in India’s team. Singh went on to be considered one of India’s best drag flickers, captaining the national side to victory in the prestigious Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2009.

“Those two years were very difficult and I’m sure those watching the movie can see the struggle and sacrifice (my family made),” Singh told AFP. The 32-year-old, who currently works as a police officer, worked closely with the filmmakers to help choreograph the hockey moves in the movie.

Singh, who has seen parts of the biopic ahead of its release, said he thought Dosanjh had done “a wonderful job” portraying him. “The movie is like a flashback of my life. What I did in my real life I can see similar things on the big screen,” he said.