Former India hockey team captain Sandeep Singh has given a thumbs-up to sports films. Singh, on whom the forthcoming film Soorma is based, says sports biopics can play an important role in doing away with drugs in India.
Movies such as Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Mary Kom, M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story and Sachin: A Billion Dreams delved into the lives of sports stars like Milkha Singh, MC Mary Kom, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar.
Singh praises filmmakers for coming forward and engaging the masses in films made on such personalities.
"If biopics are made on sports and sports stars then a sports culture will develop in India. Through such biopics, you get to know that sports is a different world. It is important to inculcate sports culture in children because today, if we talk about India and not just north India, there is a major problem of drugs.
"Sports is something that can help in doing away with drugs as drugs and sports don't go hand in hand. You have to stay miles away from drugs if you want to play a sport," Singh told IANS in a telephonic interview from Mumbai.
"If there is a sports culture, then future generations will stay away from drugs, and sports biopics can play a role in this. Like they say, 'What sells is what you see'. So, if biopics are shown then it will leave an impact on children and they will aspire to become sports stars like Sachin, Dhoni and Dhyan Chand."
In fact, Singh wants his film to be tax-free in India.
"I request the chief ministers of different states to make Soorma tax-free so that it can reach out to kids, families in villages and those who come from poor families. They can watch the film and inspire kids to take up sports," said Singh, who hails from Haryana.
He also wants the film, which is slated to release on July 13, to inspire people who give up easily in life.
"I hope people like the film because the message is to never give up. Nowadays, whenever there is some problem, youngsters get scared easily. But you should not give up," he said.
Singh is a fighter himself. He was left almost paralysed after he was accidentally shot by a Railway Protection Force jawan inside a train in 2006 while he was on his way to join the national squad due to leave for the World Cup in Germany. The incident forced him to be wheelchair-bound for two years.
But his passion for hockey brought him back on his feet and on the field. He took over as the captain of the Indian national team in 2009.
Asked about the fall and his rise, he said it's all about will power.
"Every person has it. If you believe in yourself, then you can do anything. You just need to have the confidence and faith in yourself," said the drag-flick expert, who is nicknamed "Flicker Singh".
And for sharing his life story with the world, he charged only Rs 101.
"My movie should reach every household. It's not about getting money out of it. Had I been after money, I would have sold the rights of my story to somebody else long time back.
"Many regional channels and filmmakers had offered to make a film on my life. I ignored them as I thought that if I have to do it, then it should be done on a high level so that it can reach more number of people."
Directed by Shaad Ali, singer-actor Diljit Dosanjh plays his role in Soorma, which is produced by Sony Pictures Networks Productions, Chitrangda Singh and Deepak Singh.
Singh and his brother Bikramjeet have contributed a lot to the film.
"We have done the sports choreography. We have trained Diljit and Taapsee Pannu," said the 32-year-old.
Does he miss playing hockey?
"Yes, I do. I still play, but not at the international level," he said.
Hockey is not his only passion.
"I love listening to music. I also like to visit different cities and places and explore old structures. I like to know about them and their history," said Singh.
(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at email@example.com)