Updated: August 10, 2019 3:35:06 pm
On Friday, as Punjabi movie Harjeeta was adjudged the best Punjabi film in the regional languages category in the national film awards announced in New Delhi, 23-year-old Indian hockey player Harjeet Singh Tuli, on whom the movie was based, was competing in a tournament in Bengaluru. Tuli, who was the captain of the Indian junior hockey team which won the junior hockey world cup in December 2016, belongs to Niholika village near Kurali. It was an emotional moment for Tuli, whose father Rampal Singh works as a truck driver. The movie, which was released on May 18, 2018, became the 21st Punjabi movie to bag the award after movie Chauthi Koot won the award in 2016.
“It is a special feeling for me today. Whatever I have achieved is due to hockey and I cannot forget the days when I did not have money to even buy shoes for playing hockey at my village. It was an emotional moment for me when the makers of the movie contacted me and the way director Vijay Kumar Arora and writer Jagdeep Sidhu brought the story on screen was something special. Ammy Virk paji used to talk with me for hours to know about his role. When I started playing hockey at Gopal Hockey Academy under Amritpal Singh sir, I only dreamt about playing for India one day. If my story or movie based on me can inspire youngsters, I will feel lucky,” said Harjeet Singh while talking to Chandigarh Newsline.
Younger of two brothers, Harjeet started playing hockey in 2004 at the Gopal Hockey Academy with coach Amrit Pal Singh taking the youngster under his tutelage. With his father Rampal Singh often away from home working as assistant for trucks, a young Harjeet would struggle with finances to support his dreams. The youngster was chosen by Surjeet Hockey Academy, Jalandhar, in 2008 and Singh was adjudged the best player of Sultan of Johor Cup U-21 Tournament, Malaysia, in 2014. “Movie di ki gal kariye? Asi tan isnu shuru toh hockey piche pagal hunde vekhya hai. (What can we talk about the movie? We have seen him going crazy after hockey right from start). I remember telling him not to play hockey and study or do a job. But Harjeet would always talk about playing hockey and playing for India. When he won the U-21 world cup in Lucknow, it was no less than a movie for us. Now that his biopic has been adjudged the best Punjabi movie in national film awards, it is a moment to remember for all of us,” Balwinder Kaur, mother of Harjeet Singh, said.
Father Rampal Singh returned home after a trip to Orissa last week and the proud father congratulated his son. “I had come back from Orissa last week when Harjeet left for Bengaluru to play in a tournament. Whenever he is home, he shows us his videos of playing hockey. They are also no less than a movie for us,” Rampal said.
While Harjeet Singh’s biopic got the national award, the youngster is still waiting for the prize money from the Punjab government for winning the Junior World Cup. “Ten of us from Punjab won the junior world cup title and the then Punjab government had announced a cash award of Rs 25 lakh for each of us. We still have not got the award,” said Harjeet.
Sameep Singh, who portrayed a young Harjeet Singh in the movie, was also adjudged the best child artiste in the national film awards.
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