OnRecord: Diljit Dosanjh and Shaad Ali on Soorma
Kunal Bambawale · July 04, 2018 · 3 Minute Read
While making Soorma, did you feel any pressure or a sense of responsibility to make the global Punjabi community proud? It’s a truly heroic story about a Punjabi hero (Sandeep Singh), played by a Punjabi hero (Diljit Dosanjh).
I wouldn’t say there was pressure. This was a story that came to me — it wasn’t something I set out to make. But after reading the very rough initial pages, which came to me via Chitrangada Singh, I knew that this was a story worth telling.
Throughout the entire process, from scripting, through shooting, then editing and promotions, I had the full support of Sandeep Singh [the former Indian hockey captain, upon whom the film is based], as well as his mother, his father, and his entire family. I knew that we were doing justice to his truth and his story. Diljit was a natural choice for the role because he is already a Punjabi role model himself.
Sandeep Sir isn’t just a role model for Punjab. He’s a role model and inspiration for our entire country. He’s an Olympian, a champion, and someone who I spent a lot of time with preparing for the role. I learned a lot from him — he’s someone that our entire nation is proud of. What he went through, and what he achieved — not just for himself, but for our country — is truly remarkable.
How did music play its part in telling this beautiful, inspirational story?
Being around Sandeep Singh and his family was a truly incredible experience. They had no bitterness in them — it seemed that they made a choice, together — to come through the horrible incident [that put Sandeep Singh in a wheelchair], and turn it into a force for positivity. It was really incredible how they were able to channel and focus their energy, and find a way to use it positively. It seemed almost immediately that they were working in a focused way towards a goal.
Similarly, working with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Gulzar Sir was also a privilege. I began working with them while the film was still in a very early phase of production. Whenever I had the privilege of coming to the studio for them to play the songs for me, all I had to do was sit back, put my feet up, and enjoy. It was like being served beautiful food in a world-class restaurant. I just had to sit back and say: “a little salt, here!” They are all master storytellers, Gulzar Sir with his lyrics, and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy with their arrangements and vocal expertise.
They are all truly legends. Gulzar Sir, of course, is a master. And working with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, it’s like going through a school, for music. They are very experienced as music directors, as you know. But they also do a lot of work with musicians and vocalists, training talent, both on television and privately. I feel that they trained me, musically and vocally, and helped me grow. They are teachers.
What are your favorite songs from the film?
“Ishq Di Baajiyaan,” of course! It’s the one I sang! Laughs. It was a privilege to perform to Gulzar Sir’s words. I had never met him before the film, and that was amazing. It’s a romantic song, a passionate song.
And then the “Soorma Anthem” title track is also one of my favorites. Shankar Sir’s performance on that song is inspirational and it captures what the film is all about.
All of the songs play their part in the story, and they were all crafted by incredible artists. It was never just ‘work’ with Gulzar and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. They infused every song in this film with love and passion. They’re inspired.
What role does music play in your lives, outside of your professional worlds?
Diljit doesn’t listen to music, he is music! Laughs
I think music is within all of us and is a part of all of us. It’s something we all carry with us, rely on, and share, every day, in almost everything we do. Beyond the context of working with music to tell a story in a film, music is an essential part of every human being’s life.
Music has always been something that has touched me, motivated me, and inspired me. Whenever I hear a great new song, whether it’s by an established artist or a new one, I’m moved. I feel its energy, it resonates in my heart. Music is hugely important part of my life and something I am deeply connected to — not just when I’m recording a song or working on an album — but throughout my day, wherever I am.
Soorma hits theaters on July 13th. You can listen to the entire album now on Saavn.