Sonchiriya movie review: A masterly etched gritty fusion of struggle, pain & redemption

Sonchiriya Movie Poster
Sonchiriya Movie Poster

SONCHIRIYA releases today and here is the movie review. Starring Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhumi Pednekar, Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey and Ashutosh Rana in lead, the movie is directed by ISHQIYA series and UDTA PUNJAB fame Abhishek Chaubey. Set in the 70s, the movie is about the gang of dacoits and their struggle in the Chambal ravines. Does it cut the edge like Abhishek Chaubey’s earlier movies?. Find out in the SONCHIRIYA movie review.

The most unique feature of SONCHIRIYA
From Birju in MOTHER INDIA (1957), to Gabbar in SHOLAY (1975) to Phoolan Devi in BANDIT QUEEN (1994) to PAAN SINGH TOMAR in 2012, Bandits/dacoits have been a constant reminder of the people in the Chambal ravines and their struggles. An all evil like Gabbar to victims of class struggles like Birju, Phoolan, Pan Singh, Dacoits/bandits have fascinated the Indian silver screen like cowboys in Hollywood westerns. The terrifically mind blowing BANDIT QUEEN by Shekhar Kapur remains the best as the cult brilliantly examined the caste discrimination, human suffering, and the position of women in India. Abhishek Chaubey’s SONCHIRIYA comes next.

The story/plot of SONCHIRIYA
Set during the time of emergency in India, SONCHIRIYA is a story of a gang of rebels/bandits headed by Maan Singh (Manoj Bajpayee). His gang members include Vakil Singh (Ranvir Shorey), Lakhna (Sushant Singh Rajput), Bhoora (Mahesh Balraj), Ram Diwakar (Natthi), Mukesh Gour (Sheetla), and Abhimanu Arun (Balak Ram). Police officer Virender Singh Gujjar (Ashutosh Rana) has taken a pledge to wipe the bandits from Chambal forever. Caught between, honour, class struggle and inner turmoil, things take a new turn when a women Indumati Tomar (Bhumi Pednekar) running with a molested girl Sonchiraiya (Khushiya) pleads the gang of rebels for help.

Script analysis
Abhishek Chaubey and Sudip Sharma’s screenplay is etched skillfully on the lines of caste struggle, pain, sin, and redemption. It does remind you of Shekhar Kapur’s cult masterpiece BANDIT QUEEN but its stands on its own. The characterizations are perfect and the story brilliantly uses metaphors to convey the message. The indulgence is assured slowly but surely and the most strikingly aspect of Abhishek Chaubey and Sudip Sharma’s writing is the milieu and the dialect of Bundelkhand, which is pitch perfect. The slangs come naturally and are not forced sensationalisms. Sudip Sharma’s dialogues are sharp, hard hitting and probing. For example – “aurat ki koi jaat hoth na, who toh doosri jammat tehri, sab ke neeche, brahaman, thakur, baniya, shudra yeh sab mardon ki jaat hai” (rough translation - there is a different caste for women, below all, all the caste hierarchy prevalent in the society is for men). The above dialogue is the crux, soul of SONCHIRIYA and it comes out nicely hitting at the place where it matters the most – your mind and soul.

Abhishek Chaubey’s direction in SONCHIRIYA
Abhishek Chaubey’s love for spaghetti westerns/ Sam Peckinpah/ Bhardwaj/ is evident in SONCHIRIYA. The director’s homage to Indian dacoits/bandits who took the rebellious route for honour and a better future in the beginning to fight a constant battle of consciousness later is masterly etched and gritty. Shot like a western with an ambition to attract eyeballs of the sensible, niche one in India and the same abroad, Abhishek Chaubey does a mesmerizingly haunting upgrade in the genre.

Performances
Sushant Singh Rajput adapts to Lakhna (Sushant Singh Rajput) instantly on screen and delivers a praiseworthy performance. Ranvir Shorey as Vakil Singh stands apart and gives a terrific portrayal. Manoj Bajpayee as Maan Singh is sheer brilliance. Mahesh Balraj as Bhoora is fantastic. Ram Diwakar as Natthi is a delight. Mukesh Gour as Sheetla is marvelous. Abhimanu Arun as Balak Ram leaves an impression. Ashutosh Rana as police officer is superb. Bhumi Pednekar ups her mettle as an actress with a raw and sensitive portrayal of Indumati. The small girls Khushiya and Hetal are used brilliantly and they are simply superb. Special mention of Sampa Mandal who plays Phuliya (Phoolan Devi) is a must. Sampada brings the energy, vibe and her character breaks certain myths.

Technical Analysis
SONCHIRIYA is an example of technical finesse and the production values are first rate. Anuj Rakesh Dhawan's cinematography is outstanding. Rita Ghosh's production design is remarkably authentic. Meghna Sen's editing is at par the desires of the director. Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor’s background score is expressive and helps in experiencing the pain and suffering in a better way. Divya and Nidhhi Ghambir's costumes are real. Shrikant Desai's make-up is in sync with the characterizations of the characters. Anton Moon and Sunil Rodrigues's action is very effective.

Music
Vishal Bhardwaj's music movies with the movie, the title song 'Sonchiraiya' stands out.

Flaws
A couple of sequences come all of a sudden, it’s not for all moviegoers and a basic understanding of the rebels of Chambal and class struggle is required.

Final Words
SONCHIRIYA is a powerfully performed, masterly etched gritty fusion of struggle, pain & redemption that gallops skillfully on its merits and provides a rivetingly haunting movie experience for the audience who look for sensibility and meaning in cinema.

Rating 4/5

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Movie Cast & Crew
  • Actor: Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhumi Pednekar, Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, Ashutosh Rana
  • Director: Abhishek Chaubey
  • Production house: RSVP
  • Release Date : 01 Mar 2019
  • Movie Duration : 2 Hrs 26 mins