Diljit Dosanjh: It's a shame that someone from India made world record and we don't know
In an exclusive chat with mid-day online, Diljit Dosanjh speaks about his experiences and the preparations he underwent to portray hockey legend Sandeep Singh
The trailer has left everyone speechless after it was released on Friday, July 13. Diljit Dosanjh's only motive was to gauge the audiences' reviews for Soorma – a biopic on Indian Hockey Team Captain, Sandeep Singh whos life was a tragedy and unknown to many. Dosanjh never played a sport in his life ever but stepped into the shoes of Singh and learnt hockey for the film. Apart from Diljit, the film also stars Taapsee Pannu and Angad Bedi in pivotal roles. In a free-wheeling chat with mid-day online, Diljit speaks about his emotional attachment to the sport now, physical and mental pressure to turn into the reel Sandeep Singh and his struggle to eat healthy.
What has your experience been working on a biopic?
It was a beautiful journey, everything has reached its final stage and today the film will be released. All eyes are on how the film's journey translates in theatres, and how much the audience enjoys watching this film. The whole point of focus is to request people to go and watch this film, and to see whether we have succeeded in making the audience happy.
After the trailer's release, what kind of responses did you start receiving?
Trailer's reviews have been fantastic. Haven't received any negative comment yet. However, it will be interesting to see how much the social media reviews and comments convert into theatre tickets. That is important to watch out for.
Since it is your first time doing a biopic, what was the difference between shooting that and a regular film?
The difference is huge. It's double the hard work in a biopic than a regular film. You have to learn and work on the character in detail. Since it's a sports film, one has to build a physique of a sports star. Their workout routine is of a different level, and for a regular life or a normal life, one need not build such a physique. Firstly, this is something that has to be achieved and the mental preparation, to ace the sport you never played before, practise every day... the hard work is definitely more.
All this while we have seen several of your workout videos on social media to gain this body, must have been tough?
Yes, it was tough – physically and mentally. There is this constant pressure of trying to perfect and execute the life of someone, who has been immensely talented at his work. Convincing that person with your act is of utmost importance. As of now, Sandeep paaji (brother) is happy seeing the trailer. Rest, we'll get to know after audience watch the film.
Diljit Dosanjh and Taapsee Pannu in a still from the film
The film's team must have narrated the story of Sandeep Singh to you, but what kind of research did you do to get into the character??
Director Shaad Ali had done all the research, and then we had Sandeep paaji on the sets every day. So, our research would happen on a daily basis on the sets – his movements, style of talking, that's how we picked it up.
Diljit Dosanjh with former Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh. Picture Courtesy: Instagram/diljitdosanjh
Most of us did not know the struggle Sandeep Singh went through until discussions about Soorma began? Did you know about it?
I did not know about Sandeep Singh's story until Soorma was offered to me. Even I was a part of the lot, who was alien to such an inspiring story. Firstly, he has created the world record for being the fastest Drag Flicker. It's a shame that someone from India made a world record and we don't know about it. Sandeep Singh was made the Hockey Team's Captain after he survived the gun shot, we didn't even know about this fact. We know that he was India's Hockey Team's Captain, but we did not know about this aspect that his lower body was paralysed for two years, how has his life's journey been. What intense training and hard-work the person must have undergone to make that comeback as a sports star? He created the world record after surviving the gunshot, not before that. I did not know about all these things.
What was your take away from this film?
The impact the film leaves on its audience is something that is important to watch out for. I think not only sportspersons but the film will also leave an impact on the normal people because apart from hockey, Singh's personal journey is also inspiring. How people changed their attitude and behaviour towards Singh that is also one of the interesting aspects.
You've gotten emotionally attached to Sandeep Singh's life and this film...
(Smiles)Which is but obvious. At times, we are unable to imagine but God forbid if something like this (referring to the gunshot at Sandeep Singh) happens, how people and things change, that is something, which would be interesting to see, and will inspire a lot. I think, sports star or not, or even someone like me, who has never played a sport in his life will get intrigued and inspired by Singh's life. It was his journey that intrigued me. I anyway had to learn and play hockey because that's the main plot.
Diljit Dosanjh and Angad Bedi
Since you haven't played any sport ever, how was it learning the nuances of hockey?
I won't lie, it was very tough. Let's see how it translates on screen.
Were you confident about pulling off this role?
Once you've signed the film, and you've gone on the grounds to learn hockey, then there wasn't any hurdle. I had a problem until I took the decision, but once you've taken the decision, there's no such thing in this world that a person can't do. Then there were no apprehensions about learning hockey or anything else.
What is your opinion about the sport, and what are your thoughts about the discussions around it being the national game?
I haven't really played any sport. Now, because I have learned hockey, I like it. We've been taught in school that hockey is our national game but it's not. We don't know why we were fed this lie. So, what is our National Game – None! In 1928, India won its first Olympic Gold Medal in hockey, and ever since we've won many Gold medals. We are on the sixth or seventh position in the Olympics for this sport, despite all of this I fail to understand why isn't it our national game? I think it should be. Dhyan Chand ji (Greatest hockey player), our female hockey team captain, Rani Rampal they are making us proud. The players have worked so hard and given their lives to Hockey but don't know where we fell short that it did not become our national game. Not because the film is releasing, therefore, I am saying all this but we all should think about it. Somewhere, yes the film has left an impact on me, otherwise I would have been occupied with my work, would have not even thought about it.
Well, along with building a sportsperson's body, you must have had to maintain a strict diet. Resisting Punjabi food must have been tough.
You have to pay and hire a person to stop you from eating (laughs). Even I hired my trainer Pradeep ji, who stopped me from eating junk and monitored my intake.
With so many Bollywood films to your credit, do you now feel you belong to this industry?
No, I don't. I have barely done two to three films
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