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New shot at content
Actress Chitrangda Singh debuts as a producer for Soorma, a film based on the return of Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh. Asmita Sarkar catches up with the talented actress
A gunshot wound that not only threatens to end a career but also paralyses the victim. A miraculous recovery and a slot in the Indian hockey team as a captain that wins the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup — stuff that dreams and movies are made of. The story of Sandeep Singh, who suffered a gunshot injury in 2006 in a train while on his way to join the national team due to leave for Germany and instead spent two years in a wheelchair before becoming the captain of the Indian team in 2009, is the focus of the film, Soorma. And with this it is the turn of actress Chitrangda Singh, who comes from a family interested and involved in sports, to become a producer.
The film, featuring Sandeep’s dramatic life, stars Diljit Dosanjh, Taapsee Pannu and Angad Bedi. She met the hockey player four years ago when biopics were being made and talked about. Since Chak De! India in 2007 there have been sports films on MS Dhoni, Mary Kom, the Phogat family and Milkha Singh. Coming up are the Ranveer Singh starrer ’83 on our cricket team’s first world cup win and the Akshay Kumar-starrer Gold on the golden era of Indian hockey.
“I have known a lot of sportsmen all my life. My brother is a professional sportsman. My family talks about sports and we are always up-to-date with sports in India other than cricket. But when I got to know what had happened to Sandeep, I was ashamed I didn’t know about it before. Of course, a lot of people knew. He’s an Arjun awardee. His dramatic life made me take notice and take on the project,” Chitrangda said.
The actress, who was last seen in a cameo in Munna Michael, will have three releases back to back of which she will be producing one. She hasn’t played a lead role since I, Me aur Main, which released in 2013. The long gap in her career, she says, is because there were no scripts that interested her. She had been working on two scripts around 2014 when she met Sandeep and his life inspired her to make a biopic about him.
“I don’t think I have ever heard something like this before in professional sports anywhere. He came back to the Indian team, became the captain and won many medals. The love angle was also incredible. He fell for the girl who was already in the state level hockey team and wanted to impress her. When I heard the story, I knew I had to do this,” she said. During casting, many names were discussed but Diljit Dosanjh was the natural choice. Their religion and similarity of appearance stacked up in favour of the decision to cast him. “He is a fantastic actor and has the look of an innocent, small town boy. He shows the sincerity you need from a sportsman. Not just me, the Sony team and director Shaad Ali, who were there when he came to the office, also agreed.”
Chitrangda has been seen in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster 3, alongside Mahi Gill, Sanjay Dutt, Jimmy Shergill and Soha Ali Khan, and Baazaar starring Radhika Apte and Saif Ali Khan. “I wish I could work with Tigmanshu more. He’s a fabulous actor and a great director too. He’s bang on even with the smallest details. He knows exactly what he wants and how he wants it. He takes you through a scene completely. He even tells you the diction,” she said.
About Baazaar, expected to be released in August, she said that it was about the stock market and its murky backhand. She plays Saif’s wife in the movie and her character is in contrast with those living on the edge. She is idealistic and that leads to friction in her marriage. This sub-plot is only a part of the crime drama.
The actress, who started her career with Sudhir Mishra’s Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, despite having been proclaimed as the next Smita Patil because of her looks and acting skills, did not have a smooth run. Her film Sorry Bhai (2008) by Onir failed to make a mark at the box office despite being a beautiful story where her character falls in love with her career-obsessed fiance’s brother. “It didn’t get enough notice. Onir did a really good job. The film did not go to the extremes of taking a moral stand. I don’t know why it didn’t get enough attention. It was a very human, real and relatable story. I loved playing that part because it was a real person with flaws. A movie like that would make more sense now,” she said.
She has also resisted being an arthouse typecast and done masala Bollywood movie like Desi Boyz, which starred Akshay Kumar, John Abraham and Deepika Padukone. “I switched a mode to do that kind of cinema. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it. It survives on entertainment and you have to deliver that. I have a lot of respect for that cinema as well. It’s a task to deliver that kind of entertainment and remain true to that tonality and storytelling. I worked with someone like Sudhir Mishra as well. I could see the complete difference. At the end, it’s great entertainment,” she added.
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