TopYaps Rating: 2.5/5
It has been long since we have seen a film about bandits. The genre which was quite popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s went into oblivion towards the new millennium as Bollywood shifted focus towards stories based in urban setups. Filmmaker Abhishek Chaubey, known for such successful movies as Ishqiya (2010) and Udta Punjab (2016), sort of tries to revive the genre with his latest offering Sonchiriya. The movie stars Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhumi Pednekar, Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, and Ashutosh Rana. So let’s find out whether or not he hits a home run with the film.
What’s the story?
Set in the ravines of 1970’s Chambal, Sonchiriya is a high-octane bandit drama which unfolds when Indira Gandhi declared Emergency in the country. Led by calm and composed Man Singh (Manoj Bajpayee), the gang, which also has hot-headed deputy Vakil (Ranvir Shorey) and philosopher, far-sighted Lakhna (Sushant Singh Rajput), is trying everything possible to continue their fight for existence.
Besides the police, headed by Virender Singh Gujjar (Ashutosh Rana), their battle is also with their conscience which does not let them live peacefully. What happens next after Indumati Tomar (Bhumi Pednekar), an upper-class woman, enters their lives forms the crux of the story.
Performances, setting, cinematography, and direction are some of the highlights of Sonchiriya which make it a watchable film. Sushant Singh Rajput as Lakhna, who is planning to surrender before the police, does complete justice to his character. He looks rugged and convincing as rebellious bandit seeking revenge and redemption at the same time. As the male lead of the film, Singh gets some intense dialogues to mouth and he makes most of the opportunity to showcase his talent.
Bhumi Pednekar is on fire in the film. She plays an upper-class woman who is running from her relatives. They are looking for her for killing her own father-in-law. Her own son is thirsty of her blood. She sticks with the gang to save an underage rape victim, Sonchiriya. Pednekar’s character has been written beautifully. Manoj Bajpayee and Ranvir Shorey too deliver exemplary performances as dacoits trying to absolve themselves of their sins.
Director Abhishek Chaubey has a unique style of filmmaking and he tries to stick to that. He brings out the best from his actors and puts together a piece of cinema which has the potential to attract the niche audience.
What’s not good?
The film is extremely slow paced and can test your patience. The first half is snail-paced, the second half is fine but in absence of a strong story, you do not connect with it. You do not root for any character despite them being in dozens in the movie.
Since Sonchiriya is based in the barren valleys of Madhya Pradesh, the character speaks in Bundelkhand dialect, which is fine, but they switch to chaste Hindi as per their convenience. That is a bit hilarious and irritating at the same time. In nutshell, Sonchiriya lacks entertainment quotient and seems lost in its own complexities. Aam Janta will think twice before buying tickets for it.
Despite being set in the heartland of India and showcasing the tumultuous lives of God-fearing bandits, Sonchiriya fails to touch your heart and be the mass entertainer it was expected to be. Dacoit dramas are generally mass-friendly, but this one is different. It will appeal to a very limited segment of the audience.
Banner: RSVP Movies
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhumi Pednekar, Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey and Ashutosh Rana
Music: Vishal Bhardwaj
Runtime: 143 Minutes