Set in 1975, Sonchiraiya tells the tale of rebels and ravines in the Chambal, but without the usual trappings . This Sonchiraiya review is brought to you by AboutFlick’s Mr. S.
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Review : In Sonchiraiya, a policeman and a young boy discuss how inaccurately dacoits are portrayed in Hindi cinema. “Imagine,” says the boy sitting outside a rundown little theatre, “this film shows them on horses!” The very idea is ridiculous to them, even though Bollywood could not resist copying the same from Westerns.
Set in 1975, Sonchiraiya tells the tale of rebels and ravines in the Chambal, but without the usual trappings. Everything is shown as hardcore, from language to laughter. The one time a dacoit throws back his head to laugh is nothing like Gabbar Singh of Sholay; the laughter here comes from devastation and heartbreak.
Shot beautifully in the ravines of Chambal, Sonchiraiya’s entire cast deserve special acknowledgement. Abhishek Chaubey creates yet another beautiful realistic world, with several incredible dialogues. Remember the hardcore Punjabi in Udta Punjab or the Urdu in Ishqiya? This time he opts for Bundeli to capture the soul of chambal. Sudip Sharma has done a brilliant job. The cinematography helps depict the tale of suffocation and victimisation when it comes to being a woman in Chambal. Anup Dhawan deserves special credit for this fact. But the main surprise is the multitalented Vishal Bhardwaj with an excellent background score.
Manoj Bajpayee as Sardar Maan Singh is the fearless leader whom every member respects. The dramatization of belonging to the Thakur caste was overexposed, but easily believable. The best thing about Sushant Singh Rajput’s performance is the way he underplays his part in several scenes. The voice modulation for the character was another plus point. I specially liked him in this movie for the way he balances his starry charisma, and also let others shine when the story demands that necessity. And do I have to say anything about Bhumi Pednekar playing a village girl? We’d like to see her in urban roles now. We’re tired of watching her playing every role as a village girl to perfection. Ashutosh Rana as the local ruthless cop does more acting with his eyes. For some reason, I always found his eyes to be very expressive. Ranvir Shorey as the hot-headed rebel steals the show sometimes, and when his character gets side-lined in the second half, you clearly miss him.
The best thing about the movie, though, is Abhishek Chaubey’s taut direction. From capturing Chambal in its natural light, to using the dialogues coated with black humour at proper timing, to shooting some of the best closed space action sequences, Sonchiraiya screams Chaubey all over.
But Sonchiraiya is a wasted opportunity because the story gets mundane. Only the locals of Madhya Pradesh, who are aware of the rebel culture, can associate with the story. The characters do not have proper backstories to relate to. Except for Bhumi’s Indumati, we do not know enough about Maan Singh or Vakil Singh to build an emotional connection with them. Also, the film shows the characters’ emotional expressions to be very subtle, which is not at all believable. The film deals with the theme of redemption but gets lost in the midst of the action and comments on caste and misogyny.
Rating: My rating is 2.5/5.
Who should watch this: Kumbalangi nights, China Gate, Lajja can also be on your playlist after watching Sonchiraiya, Last but not the least, the most relatable film I found after watching Sonchiraiya is Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen where Manoj Bajpayee had also played the part of Maan Singh.