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Sandeep Singh is one of the Indian sporting greats. Let there be no doubt about it. India's ex-captain has been one of the better-known faces of an ever-declining sport in the country. After starting his international career in 2004, Singh quickly gained notoriety in the international circuit, mainly because of his drag-flicking skills. Primarily a full-back, Singh was ever so dangerous from the penalty corners, even bagging five in one game on occasion; but more on that later. Just as Sandeep Singh was establishing himself as one of the very best players in the world, tragedy struck. An accidental gunshot on a train journey left Singh paralysed for a year. Flicker Singh didn't give up. However. Instead, he remained determined to return to the field one day. Sandeep Singh is one of the Indian sporting greats. Let there be no doubt about it. Eventually, after a long and arduous procedure of surgeries and physiotherapy, Singh accomplished something remarkable. He came back from being paralysed and retook the field of hockey. Things got better for Sandeep Singh when he was appointed as the captain of the Indian hockey team. Under his leadership, India went on to win the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with Singh being named as the player of the tournament. Also read: For the first 14 years of my life, I lived in a slum. Now I play for India | By Devindar Walmiki Singh's story is remarkable. An inspirational tale which incites the audience to keep fighting towards a goal. To honour Sandeep Singh and to let his achievements known to the world, Bollywood decided to make a movie about him. The film titled Soorma was released a few weeks back, starring Diljit Dosanjh as Sandeep Singh. The movie told Singh's story from the very beginning of his love for hockey, his unfortunate accident, his remarkable recovery, and finally his comeback performance at the 2009 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
Soorma struck a chord with the audience, with many claiming it to be one of the most inspirational movies ever.
Singh's story is truly remarkable. An inspirational tale which incites the audience to keep fighting towards a goal.
Twisting Facts or Flat-Out Lies?Soorma also followed a recent trend of Sports biopic movies, a trend which was started by Farhan Akhtar's Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. In the past few years, we have had many such movies telling remarkable tales of such sportsmen- Dangal, MS Dhoni: An Untold Story, and Azhar to name a few. The trend is all set to continue as well, with another Hockey-based biopic, Gold, set to be released soon followed by a movie on India's legendary football coach Syed Abdul Rahim. Unfortunately, as has been the trend, Soorma also told some flat-out lies to the audiences who had gone to watch the movie. One of the most prominent facts that the movie twisted was regarding the 2009 Commonwealth Championship. In the movie, after Singh had completed his comeback from injury, he faced his biggest challenge in the form of Pakistan. The match was shown as a 'final' within the cinematic storyline, in which India completed a remarkable comeback from two goals down to win 4-3. Sandeep Singh was also shown grabbing a hattrick in the said match. In reality, no such tournament exists by the name of Commonwealth Championship. One can wonder if the competition was indeed acting as a filler for Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2009, which proved to be the occasion on which Singh completed his comeback. In that case, as well, facts have been twisted to showcase something which never really took place. For starters, India came up against Malaysia in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, beating them 3-1. Sandeep Singh, although the top scorer and the best player of the tournament, did not grab a goal in the match. Instead, it was Arjun Halappa, Prabhjot Singh, and Shivendra Singh who notched the goals for India, with Sandeep Singh being instrumental throughout the game. Also read: Being a goalkeeper is a lonely job | By Sreejesh PR Another pivotal fact that Soorma has got wrong is the video referral. After Singh scores his third and final goal in the movie, the referee calls for video referral to see if the ball ended up in the net or not. In reality, video referral didn't come out until late December of 2009.
Growing Trend in Sports BiopicsSoorma isn't the first sports-biopic to twist the facts to make it 'more interesting' for the audience. This is becoming a growing trend within the sports biopic genre. Dangal did this previously when the film-makers showed an excessively tense final involving Geeta Phogat. In the movie, Phogat comes from 1-5 behind to win 6-5. In reality, Phogat walked home with the gold medal after an 8-0 victory over her rival. The rivals she faced difficulty against were also villains to make Geeta's achievement more appealing to the audience. They were shown to resort to underhand techniques during the bout and mocking Geeta outside the wrestling mat. Soorma isn't the first sports-biopic to twist the facts to make it 'more interesting' for the audience. Dangal did this previously when the film-makers showed an excessively tense final involving Geeta Phogat. Azhar, another such movie faced a lot of criticism over the claim that they have not shown the reality. It is understandable that a few factors of a biopic are usually twisted to show something to which the audience would relate more. To that effect, a little of the personal story of a sportsperson is changed as well, to make them seem more likeable and inspirational. However, a more recent trend is changing the result or even opposition of matches that took place to appeal to the audience. For example, India facing Pakistan in any sports film would allow the viewer to engage far more emotionally.
Questions RaisedHowever, this raises a lot of questions. First of all, why do sports-biopics feel the need to lie about sporting events which took place? Why did Soorma choose to go with an India-Pakistan match in a made up tournament when they could have just shown what happened? Why did Dangal portray Geeta's victory in the form of a comeback when she actually dominated her opponent? Why are the film-makers twisting real events just for the sake of the script? However, this brings us to perhaps the most critical question of all- Are these films assuming that the sportspersons achievements weren't significant enough to be shown truthfully? Are they implying that if there is no sentiment involved, people would not be inspired by their stories? In the end, it is good that Indian cinema is finally telling many inspirational sports-related stories, such as Soorma. It is right, that the audience is learning about the real-life events that shaped a sportsperson. What is not good, is that fact that many such movies are still twisting facts to make such stories more 'interesting'.
The fact is that Sandeep Singh is one of the greatest hockey players the country has ever produced. His comeback from paralysis is one of the most inspirational stories in the world. To that effect, you need not tell a lie to make his story and many other such stories more interesting because they already are.
Are these films assuming that the sportspersons achievements weren't big enough to be shown truthfully? Are they assuming that if there is no sentiment involved, people would not be inspired by their stories?