Sonchiriya review: Sushant Singh Rajput impresses in an otherwise dull film
'Sonchiriya' is a different film, and it requires your complete attention.
During the 60s and 70s, dacoits were featured very prominently in the Indian cinema. The dreaded Gabbar Singh from 'Sholay' is the most iconic villains of all times and 'Bandit Queen' (1994) is considered as one of the classics. After the 80s, the bandit culture started vanishing from the movies. 'Paan Singh Tomar' (2010) was one of the recent movies recently that brilliantly featured a rebel from the ravine.
Sushant Singh Rajput and Bhumi Pednekar starrer 'Sonchiriya' is set in the 70s and talks about a bunch of fugitives, who take law in their own hands.'
Shot in the dense landscape of the Chambal valley, this film explores the world that we don't intimately understand.
Abhishek Chaubey's directorial showcases a different side to the rebels - they are more humane. These are the dreaded dacoits who once terrorised the Indian heartlands. The movie focusses its story on three keys characters - Maan Singh (Manoj Bajpayee), Vakil Singh (Ranvir Shorey) and Lakhna (Sushant Singh Rajput).
At some point in the story, Indumati (Bhumi Pednekar) joins them. She is playing a woman on the run along with a young rape survivor. The one common factor that unites all the characters is their dark past and their search for a new meaning in their lives. The film features some of the most famous real-life dacoits, Maan Singh and Phoolan Devi. Even till today, grandmothers from the northern part of India narrate stories of these dreaded goons to the young ones. But 'Sonchiriya' is not your typical daredevil story of the dacoits; over here they are always on the run and are desperately trying to survive. This social drama focuses a lot on the caste system, patriarchy and the untouchables.
You shouldn't expect the dramatic portrayal of dacoits you have seen in 'Sholay' from the 70s. The makers are not trying to gain our sympathy by portraying them as Robin Hood who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. At times, these goons are righteous rebels and other times they are blindly shooting people for their benefit. Even though it was fun to explore the rustic side of India and to look at the caste system through the lens of guns, the movie is not entirely engaging and exciting.
Sushant Singh shines amidst the stellar cast of Manoj Bajpayee, Ashutosh Rana, Ranvir Shorey. He is good as a quiet, brooding rebel who is good at heart and often dreams of leading a normal life.
Most of the characters are interesting, but they are one tone. There is hardly any graph to their stories even though we keep going to their haunting flashbacks.
We wish females had more to do in the movie. Bhumi's track is fascinating, but it was only towards the end that we get to understand why she is the way she is. It also seems like the character of the fascinating Phoolan Devi was written in a rush. Phoolan is considered as one of the most dangerous dacoits from India, but in the movie, she is portrayed as a female who is only thirsty for blood, angry and full of revenge.
There is a lot of gun violence and blood in the movie, but it never gets overindulgent.
'Sonchiriya' is a different film, and it requires your complete attention. If you are a bit patient with these characters, you will enjoy their quest for inner peace and freedom.
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhumi Pednekar, Ashutosh Rana, Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey
Director: Abhishek Chaubey