In the beginning, Sonchiriya felt like just another dacoit story with a lot of bloodshed and abuses. But I must say that there is a great technique with director Abhishek Chaubey and his writer Sudip Sharma in building characters and creating empathy towards them. The second half of Sonchiriya is elaborate, emotional, brutal and most importantly quite a heartening one. In a way, it is a tale about the mental and physical sufferings of a lot of people and the honesty with which it dives into that aspect of the story is fabulous.
The movie begins with us being introduced to a gang of dacoits in the Chambal lead by Man Singh. Very soon there is a rift within the gang and one of the key reasons for that was the decision of one gang member Lakhna to help a woman named Indumati in saving a molested child. Set in the backdrop of the emergency that happened in the Indira Gandhi era, Sonchiriya is a disturbing and cinematically captivating experience.
If any of you left the theater with a heavy heart after watching the movie Udta Punjab (writer-director duo’s previous film) thinking about the character played by Alia Bhatt, then I would easily recommend this movie to you. Sonchiriya isn’t trying to justify any act of cruelty. It is actually sympathizing with a lot of people who are thrown into this lawless ambiance and are forced to believe that this is everything. In one scene, one dacoit is talking optimistically about surrendering to the police and the fact that he is looking at jail term as an escape from the dreaded life he lives now itself shows the hopelessness in that world. There was another scene where the character of Vakil Singh realizes about an ideological betrayal. The eventful second half of Sonchiriya that has many similar scenes which sort of explains the reasons and backdrops of almost all its characters makes it a great film.
The cast of this movie is really top notch. Sushant Singh Rajput isn’t playing the typical hero here. He is as distracted and disturbed as Vakil Singh played by Ranvir Shorey. The actor maintains the roughness and manages to add those minimal bits of humanity which makes him the easily likable one among the dacoits. Bhumi Pednekar is also very convincing as the tough woman. In this testosterone-rich environment, Chaubey and Sharma decided to make their female protagonist a fighter on an emotional level. There is a big why surrounding the character of Indumati and the moment it is revealed the story becomes even more heartbreaking. Manoj Bajpayee, the veteran among the actors in this genre is given the character of veteran Man Singh and he effortlessly makes him that guy who has seen it all and realized the consequences. Ranvir Shorey is the angriest one in the gang and as I mentioned above there was a scene where he breaks down realizing the lie he believed till date and it did make an impact. Ashutosh Rana goes back to a fully negative character, but there also Sudip Sharma gives him a solid reason. There are so many actors as various gang members including one legendary Chambal character and they were all pretty effective.
Abhishek Chaubey once again chooses the rural Indian texture and this time it is the backdrop of the lawless phase of the Chambal. The way this movie approaches the atmosphere is really gripping. The political climate and the caste system had a role in the whole Chambal history and Sudip Sharma blends it inside the story very effectively. The movie isn’t reduced to a socio-political drama. The bloodshed here is brutal and the film is certified A by the censors. The back and forth style of the screenplay manages to create a sense of intrigue in the viewers. The breathtaking cinematography by Anuj Rakesh Dhawan and the timely cuts by Meghana Sen contribute hugely to this drama. Vishal Bhardwaj has done the songs and the Sonchiriya song and its usage in the film was really powerful.
Sonchiriya is a brilliantly crafted movie. It is political, it is authentic and it is nuanced. We as viewers usually manage to predict the death of characters when they start to talk about their dreams. The making of Sonchiriya was so good that it managed to take away the predictability from such clichés which are there in the film.
Sonchiriya is a brilliantly crafted movie. It is political, it is authentic and it is nuanced.