Abhishek Chaubey paints a spiritual canvas around bandits, that charms you in no time
The world is wrong. But the right in the wrong should always be maintained. This is not the first time you are seeing Chambal bandits on screen. But this time, its not only refreshingly different but also a thought provoking narrative. Sonchiriya amazes you like never before where it gets you in a zone moving along with those involved in the rustic world of crime, to contemplate what goes in their minds. Set in the real raw settings of Chambal aided with spectacular cinematography and definitive editing, the film casts a spell. But but but… this one’s not for masses. Strictly not.
Set in 1970s in Chambal, the bandits in the ravines are seeking validation, for their own self. Continuing to loot to make their ends meet, there’s also a guilt that haunts them, something that they must redeem themselves from.
Sudip Sharma and Abhishek Chaubey’s story is brilliant, to say the least. Simply outstanding, for the fact that its not a plain tale of how one becomes a dacoit, how he/she terrorises the people for their rights and so on. Here, what strikes the most is that Chaubey gives you a take never associated with such a genre. This one works at a psychological level.
Moving ahead from what and how bandits operate, this one focusses more on the aftermath of a life full of uncertainties. The screenplay takes you inside the characters heads and soon after the film begins, you start delving into their psyche, making it for a worthwhile watch.
Chaubey gives his signature yet again. A story what looks routine at the outset carries layers within layers and you get so much to observe- something that you can discuss for hours in film classes. Symbolic connotations, memories that haunt, choosing between right and wrong in a completely wrong setup, internal conflicts presented by a dialogue on gender disparity and societal situations is to look for.
Yes, the accent- typical from Bundelkhand isn’t very easy to comprehend, but that’s prerequisite for authenticity and flair. Also, masses will never be able to decode the allegories. The film will definitely find difficulty in gathering audience, as word of mouth will be too limited. Its not a simple and straight forward film. It asks you to be intelligent and ardent lovers of quality cinema.
Manoj Bajpayi in a special appearance as Man Singh nails the act. Seeming still in the zone of Bandit Queen where he played the same role, he is winning every frame. Ranvir Shorey is at the top of his game too. Commanding the scenes where he performs to his level best, it gets difficult for you to take his eyes off.
Sushant Singh Rajput however emerges as a champion. In a one-of-its-kind role never attempted before, hats off first to Chaubey for assigning a character so mentally deep to Rajput, and then ofcourse to Rajput for getting it to life. He’s your hero, he’s the bad man, he’s the good man- all in one. And he sails through effortlessly. This man here deserves standing ovation, for probably his best performance so far.
Bhumi Pednekar, like all her previous outings makes you believe in the character she plays and never leaves a stone unturned to excel. She’s a charmer even in this crude setting.
Ashutosh Rana as the unabashed unforgiving police officer is wicked, ruthless but justified. You like him in everything he does. Indeed, everything.
Mahesh Balraj is good too. He has his moments and you related to him.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s music reacts with your soul forming an instant connect. Not only does it serve the purpose for the plot, the songs haunt you making you wear a thinking cap. Amazing job by a music composer overall in a very long time. The music grows on you and stays with you. Varun Grover’s lyrics are powerful, genuinely.
Cinematography by Anuj Rakesh Dhawan and Production Design by Rita Ghosh are two things which the film will be remembered. The film is a visual spectacle in every frame where not only you admire the compositions, but also the pallete giving you an enriched visual experience. The sets with their inherent crude, rustic, raw appearance but still stylised are extremely endearing making this a memorable visual piece.
Editing by Meghna Sen is breathtaking. The narrative structure along with the flow and pace- are all so good that you are immersed fully in the drama right from the word ‘go’.
Sonchiriya is a film that entertains you, engages you, and makes you leave with a thought provoking parting note. This one’s a refresher. This one’s strong. This one’s quality. Only thing, its not for everyone.