Sonchiriya follows the story of a group of dacoits who call themselves Baaghis (meaning rebels) and the turbulence that ensues in and around them after they meet a woman (Bhumi Pednekar) and a violated girl after the death of their leader Mann Singh aka Dadda(Manoj Bajpayee).
Positive Points: –
- The performances. This film has many positive traits but it’s the acting of its cast that makes its experience magnetic.
- Even at a runtime of 146 minutes, Sonchiriya is strongly gripping and doesn’t even falter for a single moment in maintaining its intense nature.
- The direction, the screenplay, the technicalities, you name it! Every aspect of filmmaking has been executed stupendously in the movie.
- In all its vicious and violent premise, Sonchiriya manages to imbibe true sentiments into the narrative which humanise it without rendering it into a mawkish tale.
- There are many memorable moments in it which can become iconic in future such as ‘the cracker sequence’ and ‘the lengthy climactic gunfight’.
Negative Points: –
- There are moments where it becomes difficult to follow as to what’s actually happening. Though such sequences/montages are very few in number and their runtime minimum, their existence is still felt.
- Sonchiriya is muddled up with too many characters and too many different plot-points all of which struggle to mature. It’s like the situation where multiple seeds are sown in a congested space in the soil and only a few manage to germinate.
- Though minute and mostly ignorable, the film has its flaws which might not skip the eyes of the attentive viewers. *Winks*
General Aspects: –
It’s not like we haven’t had films on dacoits in Indian cinema but most of what we have are marred by unnecessary glorification and melodrama. Sonchiriya not only resists this trend but also manages to justify its events with believable characters and relatable emotions amidst blowing barrels and bitter tongues. Set during the onset of the Emergency it doesn’t merely follow a streamlined plot but explores various facets of the Indian society such as caste issues, patriarchy, and the like, through the hearts and minds of its most atomic denizens without being preachy. Its characters are flawed and their shortcomings are undisguised. Each person has his or her own reasoning for whatever action he or she performs and all of them are well emulated by its cast. However, all the gun blasts, spewing blood, harsh dialogues and bitter lifestyles of the people do not camouflage their humanness. Sonchiriya showcases fear, love, repentance and forgiveness, all inducted smoothly and smartly in a gruelling narrative that not only threatens its characters but also puts its viewers at a delightful unease owing to its unpredictableness. The narrative may be extremely raw but its cinematography and editing are sleek which polish the overall cinematic experience of the film with great effect. There are even certain moments that one would rejoice as a cinema fan even if the outcome in the storyline is disheartening (such as the ‘cracker sequence’). The lengthy and crude gunfights are like the cherry on the top. However, the makers couldn’t really make use of the bevy of characters and the hoard of different plot threads, most of which are left poorly constructed. The intermingling of different threads makes its execution questionable at times and a few bumpy narrative elements create a tad amount of confusion in the minds of its viewers. Sonchiriya does showcase the brutality of dacoits along with the humaneness but it never really presents their harsh lifestyle satisfactorily. While it’s cinematography captures the real locations beautifully, they never really capture the grating nature of the ravine life around Chambal area. Nevertheless, all these fallacies do not overpower the film’s efficacy owing to its strongly engrossing narrative and its raw nature which needs the support of some jerky storytelling elements.
It’s tough to appreciate each and every cast member in the movie for even the briefest appearances have been marvellously performed. Acting has been Sonchariya’s soul and every actor has bestowed certain positiveness in the film through his or her rendition that cannot be ignored. Manoj Bajpayee may have a cameo but he is the most memorable performer in here. In a matter of minutes, he showcases such a varied range of emotions with acute perfection, that one might believe that the role of Mann Singh was written specifically for him and no other actor could have done justice to it. Same goes for Ashutosh Rana’s rendition of Gujjar. Though Rana is a versatile actor and can perform any persona given to him, he is predominantly known for his villainous characters. Given that, it’s only fair that he gives a stellar performance as a character who is formidably evil. Ranvir Shorey is yet another actor who can do any role that he gets and his performance is at par with the two aforementioned greats. Bhumi Pednekar is one of the best actresses we currently have in our industry and if you never felt so, her poignant yet powerful act in Sonchiriya should convince you of the same. It’s great to see Sushant Singh Rajput take up such a layered character and nail it with near perfection. He has always made his thespian capabilities obvious from his TV days and his blinder as Lakhan should be an answer to all those people who consider him overrated.
Final Verdict: –
Sonchiriya is a film that scores positively in almost all aspects of filmmaking. It exhibits a certain finesse throughout its rawness and imbibes a humane nature which makes its characters and their emotions credulous. It may not be a perfect film but it’s intense and gruelling narrative more than compensates for its flaws which are minor in front of its overall cinematic excellence. It’s a great film in every respect and is a manifestation of the high standing nature of Indian cinema across the globe amidst the industry’s myriad commercial garbages.