Actor-singer Diljit Dosanjh's performance as hockey champ Sandeep Singh is winning exceptional laurels as the man himself remains humble, down-to-earth and rooted. "I knew 'Soorma' was a role of a lifetime. I am ashamed to say that when Shaad Sir (director Shaad Ali) came to me with the project I did not know anything about Sandeep Paaji,'' he said.
"It's a shame that we do not give the same respect and position to hockey as we do to other games in the country," said Diljit regretfully as he embarks on a new phase in his acting career.
The preparations to play the part took Diljit right into the field. "A role like 'Soorma' happens once in a lifetime. I learnt to play hockey from scratch. And it had to be hockey on a competent level. I was playing Sandeep Singh. I couldn't afford to look like an amateur. I learnt the game from Sandeep Paaji and and his elder brother (Bikram Singh). By the time I was ready to face the camera I was confident of my game," said Diljit.
So can Diljit now think of playing hockey for the country?
He laughs, "Arrey Nahin (O no), Sir. Kahan (nothing like that)? Bahot mehnat karni padti hai (One has to work really hard). The fact that people have found me convincing as Sandeep Singh is reward enough for me.''
"I was playing a legend whom I had come to respect immensely as I got to know about him. I could not afford to goof up. Now I am humbled by the response to my performance,'' he said.
"Sandeep Paaji has brought great honours for our country. I'm honoured to play him."
Diljit hopes "Soorma", that relaesed on July 13, will create awareness about the game of hockey.
"When I go to Haryana and my home state Punjab I see children everywhere playing hockey. But not outside these two states. Why? Why is there no glamour prestige and power attached to the game of hockey in the rest of the country? If 'Soorma' can create even some awareness of what a difficult and involving a game hockey is, I would think my efforts have paid off," he said.
Diljit's next film is "Arjun Patiala", a comedy where he shares screen space with Kriti Sanon.
Diljit said: "I am learning from every film that I do. It's an ongoing process."
"I am looking at a couple of other films. But I am not anxious to do films. My first love remains music and singing. I've sung one of the songs 'Ishq di baajiyan' in 'Soorma'."
All the other songs are rendered by Shankar Mahadevan. "They were recorded before I came onboard. 'Ishq di baajiyan' was also sung by Shankar Sir. But when I came on board I re-did it," Diljit added.
He is now preparing to release a music album. "Not digitally, but an actual album that one can hold in one's hand physically. It's been a while since we stopped doing that."
Trust Diljit Dosanjh to draw attention to an endeavour that's lost its sheen.
(With IANS Inputs)