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Review Hindi

Soni review: The cinematic police story gets a new dimension

Release Date: 2018

Cinestaan Rating

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Keyur Seta

First-time director Ivan Ayr's movie is also noteworthy for its long takes.

A hot-tempered police inspector is provoked by a goon or an influential person. After trying hard, and failing, to keep calm, the inspector thrashes the baddie. How many times have we seen this in cinema over the decades? Countless! And how many times was the officer involved a woman? Rarely.

This is one aspect that sets first-time director Ivan Ayr’s Soni apart from other cop dramas, especially those in mainstream Hindi cinema. The other is the filmmaker's out-of-the-box approach.

Soni revolves around Delhi police inspector Soni (Geetika Vidya Ohlyan). Soni is an officer with a short fuse. This constantly gets her into trouble with her senior Kalpana (Saloni Batra), an IPS (Indian Police Service) officer.

Soni’s troubled marriage with Naveen (Vikas Shukla) does not help her anger management.

While Soni is from the middle class, Kalpana is more affluent. She is also the opposite of Soni in temperament. This does not mean she is dishonest. She, too, is upright and just as idealistic as Soni. Kalpana’s husband (Mohit Chauhan) also holds a senior position in the Delhi police force.

Though Kalpana does not approve of Soni’s ways, she always tries to bail her out of trouble, for she cares for the officer.

The film does not follow the conventional story pattern. It is driven more by the characters. We are presented a sneak peek into the personal and professional lives of an inspector and her senior, both honest and idealistic but with very different temperaments. While Soni is impulsive, Kalpana thinks before acting.

The difference in approach constantly brings the two women into conflict with each other. However, their deep bond of affection does not suffer. In fact, it grows so much by the end of the film that it becomes difficult to believe they are not related. To establish and maintain such complexity in the relationship in an organic way is indeed a triumph of the writing and the direction.

Deep inside, the two diametrically opposite characters symbolize the state of the police in India today when the corrupt and the greedy seem to have taken over the system. While one wants to simply destroy the evil, the other is more mindful of the consequences of a rash act.

Though the film revolves around female characters, the director does not treat it as a woman-centric film. He presents them simply as human beings. The film never makes a fuss about how a woman is seen doing things an audience would normally associate with a male ‘hero.’

Soni is also noteworthy for its long takes, which are not limited to indoor scenes. Or to a few scenes, for that matter. Probably 80% of the film consists of extended single-take shots. What's more, cinematographer David Bolen and the artistes are able to pull it off. The scene in which inspector Soni walks some distance, hears some lewd talk by a group of lecherous men and returns deserves special mention.

Soni’s troubled marriage is explored as a subplot, but perhaps the audience would have been more sympathetic if there were more clarity about their past. Also, the part where an influential youngster is caught with narcotic drugs deserved more footage.

Obviously, the film would not have worked without the fine performances by the two leads. Geetika Vidya Ohlyan seems just like a real police officer from Delhi. She fits the character of an angry cop perfectly. She is natural even while portraying her angst simply through expressions.

Saloni Batra also makes a mark as the upright senior who also has no problems making emotional decisions. Mohit Chauhan, Vikas Shukla and Gauri Chakraborty as Soni’s neighbour Huma put in fine performances to bolster the lead artistes.

Soni was screened at the 20th Mumbai Film Festival on Saturday 27 October 2018. 


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