Movie on hockey legend Prithipal Singh to hit silver screen soon

Can you name a hockey legend who won three Olympic medals — silver in Rome (1960), gold in Tokyo (1964), bronze in Mexico (1968) — and was shot dead in 1983? Chances are that you will struggle to find the correct answer, which is Prithipal Singh.

Prithipal Singh

Hailed as the world’s most feared penalty corner specialist of his generation, Singh stunned the hockey world in the three Olympics that he participated in, scoring as many as 11 out of the 22 goals in the triumphant Tokyo Games, defeating arch-rivals Pakistan in the final. And yet, in 1983, he was gunned down by students on the campus of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), where he worked as the sports director.

He was shot in broad daylight, in front of the vice-chancellor’s office with more than 50 eye witnesses. However, none of them came forward to identify the shooters in the court. The genius — who won many a battle on the hockey field — lost his life in the battle of petty student politics.

It is this tale of the forgotten legend that Sundeep Misra wanted to tell the world. Researching about Singh since the 2012 London Olympics, Misra is now coming out with a movie titled ‘Prithipal Singh… A Story’ that will hit theaters in Mumbai on November 6.

“On my numerous visits to Ludhiana for research, I met about 65-70 people. And to my astonishment, people there didn’t even know about Prithipal. They would think hard and then tell me ‘wohi hai na jisko goli lagi thi’? That’s the sad part. People remembered him because he was shot, not because he won three Olympic medals for his country,” Misra, who is the executive producer and joint screenplay writer of the movie, said.

Misra, who is also planning to publish a book on Singh early next year, said he refused to compromise on factuality. “Look, the film stands simply on the story and Vikas Kumar’s (who plays Singh in the movie) acting. I insisted on a tight budget, and the movie was made under Rs 1 crore. I just wanted to tell this story,” Misra said. Biopics on sportspersons have been a trend for quite some time now, with Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Mary Kom being well-received by the audience. Is Misra confident of reaching the masses? After all, there are no Farhan Akhtars or Priyanka Chopras to tell this story.

“Honestly, I don’t think it will go to the masses. But wherever it goes, I want it to make an impact. And I’m sure it will. I did not make this movie with a sentiment of popularisim,” he said.

The movie won accolades at various film festivals across the world, and director Babita Puri said people who watched the film asked her why nobody could stop an Olympic champion from being killed. “I always believed in this story. Prithipal Singh is the story of Punjab, of an Olympic champion. It’s a story that can resonate across the nation. We might not have the reach of the big production houses, but that didn’t deter us from telling a story,” Puri said.