Soorma is just a day away from its release. Last year in 2017, when the Diljit Dosanjh starrer was announced, I took to the internet to know all about the hockey player Sandeep Singh who inspired filmmaker Shaad Ali to make a full-length film on him. I came across several reports that narrated the story of Singh’s comeback on the hockey field after he survived an accidental gunshot in the Shatabdi Express. But, recently as I travelled with one of India’s best drag-flickers from Chandigarh to Delhi by train, it was surreal to hear him narrate his story of how he overcame the tragedy and surmounted all odds to become one of the finest hockey players of the country.
Travelling in the train after 12 years of being shot, Sandeep recalled the harrowing incident of his life. “I was sitting with an Indian hockey player and the TTE of Indian Railways. Suddenly we hear a sound similar to a bomb blast and the next moment I feel as if a hot iron rod was inserted into my back. With blackness surrounding my eyes, I hear a voice saying ‘Merse goli chal gayi hai’ (I have mistakenly fired a gunshot). After a while, my body gradually starts getting numb and I cannot move my legs. The train is made to stop at the Kurukshetra railway station and I was carried on a stretcher which is used to remove dead bodies from the railway track. This is when I told myself, ‘I don’t want to die’,” narrated Sandeep.
As everyone heard the story unfold, he continued, “I called Bikram paaji and I was taken to the hospital on a three-wheeler.” Sandeep’s elder brother Bikram got emotional as he took forward the chilling tale, “I received a call from an Indian hockey player who informed me Sandeep has been shot. I don’t even remember at what speed I drove the car. I reached the hospital and from there I took him to Chandigarh for treatment.”
With a lump in his throat, he continued, “It was a difficult time for us. Every day was like a year for me. He laid there on the hospital bed without uttering a word and I had only one wish to see him back on his feet, running across the hockey field. Then one day he asked for a hockey stick and I decided that I will make him stand and with a hockey stick by his side, he showed signs of improvement.”
Throwing light on elder brother Bikram’s role in Sandeep’s life, Diljit said, “Bikram paaji has been a mentor to Sandeep in life and in the hockey field. He has been a great support to him. I remember one incident which we have even included in the film. Instead of looking for the man who shot the bullet and filing a case against him, Bikram paaji channelised all the energy to make Sandeep recover. He knew if he will go out to find what actually happened, he will get stuck in the court proceedings and Sandeep would not be able to stand ever. So, Sandeep never saw that man’s face in his life.”
As the two brothers talked about the toughest time of their life, their parents came to see if they are fine or not at the Ambala station since they were apprehensive about Sandeep travelling in the locomotive again. While narrating his story, Sandeep had said, “I was never afraid of travelling on the train but it was the love and care of my family which stopped me from sitting in it.”
Now with Soorma, Sandeep expects people to take inspiration from his story and encourage sports and sportspersons. Diljit Dosanjh is also sure that after the film Sandeep will have a new nickname and people will know him as the real Soorma.