Soni details the stories of the eponymous Soni and her boss Kalpana in a society where misogyny and casual sexism is typical. This Soni review is brought to you by AboutFlick’s Mr T.
Director: Ivan Ayr
Review: If you’re like me and crave quality content in your native languages, but the term ‘Hindi movie’ conjures up imagery of over the top acting and preposterous song and dance sequences in exotic locations, then I have good news for you. Soni isn’t that kind of a movie. It is, in fact, quite the opposite of something like a Singham where the male police officer can do whatever he wants with impunity. This is a world where actions have real consequences.
The film details the story of Soni (Geetika Vidya Ohlyan), a sub-inspector and her boss Kalpana (Saloni Batra), an IPS officer who are part of an operation dedicated to rooting out crimes against women. Soni isn’t afraid to hit back in a society where misogyny and sexual violence are as common as a traffic jam in Bangalore. She isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, be it against a drunk Navy officer or the drug addicted son of a powerful man, constantly questioning those in power who defend the corrupt.
Kalpana, who chides her for being reckless and is a force to be reckoned with at the workplace, is relegated to merely a housewife at home, never at equal footing with her husband who is also in the police force. She is always expected to hold back, never express her opinions. It’s not just the male characters that partake in everyday misogyny, Soni’s nosy neighbour and Kalpana’s mother-in-law & sister-in-law never fail to dole out pseudo-advice to them which have no place in the modern world.
The colours and soundtrack are both muted. It is, however, intentional and works quite well for the film. The camerawork is exceptional too. The director of photography needs to be applauded for creating an environment which we can all relate to. From the empty gas cylinders, to the cluttered apartments, to the neighbourhood milk and tea shops – everything screams India. What’s also praiseworthy is how the director has approached the issue. He shuns melodrama, preachiness and a cathartic ending for an approach similar to documentary filmmaking. In the end we’re left to introspect – has society and culture become a euphemism for male entitlement, misogyny and casual sexism? And yes, it is a rhetorical question.
The only lament I have is that this film should have been marketed properly, as it deserved better. With features like Aligarh (2015), Trapped (2015), Newton (2017), Andhadhun (2018) and Soni (2019), I think quality Indian cinema is slowly, but surely making a comeback.
Rating: My rating for Soni is 4/5.
Who should watch this: People who like movies on female bonding or buddy cop dramas are really going to enjoy Soni. Also check out Frances Ha (2012), End Of Watch (2012), Training Day (2001) and seasons 1 and 3 of True Detective (2014).