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SONI (Netflix) - A sincere depiction of life of women in Khaki, presented in a realistic docu-drama mode, missing the story element. (Review By Bobby Sing)

28 Jan, 2019 | Movie Reviews / 2019 Releases

A lonely woman on the road is always an easy target and at times even the woman in Khaki is not safe, if not accompanied by men providing the timely protection. Netflix’s new release SONI realistically deals with the subject of sexism and misogyny faced by the women working in Police services. And they face it not only in their homes but in the office and on the road too fighting for their denied respect and freedom as a fellow human being.

The film has been based in Delhi but in reality this is the story of every city in the country, including the interiors. Directed by Ivan Ayr, SONI gets a pretty simple but highly realistic treatment which mostly remains effective especially in its initial 40 minutes. Beginning with an interesting on-road instance, it introduces the short tempered Sub-Inspector Soni (Geetika Vidya Ohlyan) and her IPS officer Kalpana (Saloni Batra) forming a team with mutual admiration. Without being dependent upon any key name in the star-cast, the narration focuses on the two women dealing with both their office and the home individually. Particularly the sequences showcasing the relationship between the lady IPS officer and her husband who is also a senior police officer are quite interesting and revealing giving you the actual picture behind the immediate suspensions and departmental transfers.

A technically superior film, SONI has a winning execution, which is sure going to impress if you are game for such off-beat, docu-dramas willing to talk about the reality more than anything else. The director beautifully uses long single shots sequences mostly shot outdoor in nights, without any lengthy dialogues, exploiting the natural sounds in the backdrop. He skillfully uses the silence in many important sequences, plus the camera never makes you feel that it’s all a staged drama throughout with appreciable natural performances.
However the excitement and thrill doesn’t remain the same as the film moves towards completion of its first hour and nothing significant happens in the story progression making you a little annoyed. In addition, how can a film based in Delhi be made without the obvious references of Punjabi families - so we have a Punjabi Sikh family here too fulfilling the given duty bringing in the occasional subtle humour. Moreover one particular sequence occurs to be deliberately added to have a forced classy touch when the IPS officer gives Soni the autobiography of Amrita Pritam to be read to get back the lost courage and spirit. That actually doesn't match the subordinate officer’s characterization.
But above all, what actually disappoints in the last 30 minutes is the absence of any story element in the film, presenting the things as it is like a raw documentary. Yes, it depicts the social issue with the right amount of realism as well as sensitivity raising the bold questions, but it surely could have touched a much wider audience making a far better impact if the characters were given something to do or face, using an inventive story plot ‘making it a film’.  
Personally speaking, I strongly believe cinema to be a medium of storytelling, especially when you are making a film and not a documentary. And SONI doesn’t have that essential feature in its less than 100 minutes of duration to be honest.
So the attempt is really great if you consider it as a realistic documentation of the life of women in our police services fighting with the world of men. But it doesn’t turn out to be something exceptionally great or engaging without any story to tell. Also because even the incidents shown in the film are not anything fresh or novel we haven’t seen before.
Having said that, I am really glad that SONI got its deserving attention through many positive online reviews informing the viewers about its release at Netflix. Because had it been released in the theaters, then these exhibitors would have given it only 1 show at odd timings in just 2-3 theaters in the city and that too on their own condition of not playing the movie for less than 8-10 viewers.
And believe me, there are not even 8-10 takers for such films in the costly multiplexes.
So do watch it at Netflix considering it a realistic docu-drama, shot extremely well with actors giving highly natural and relatable performances deserving praises.
Rating : 3 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for the so natural performers in particular.)

Tags : SONI (Netflix) Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalksicinema.com, Reviews of New Films Released Online by Bobby Sing, New Hindi films on Netflix. New Hindi films released online.
28 Jan 2019 / Comment ( 0 )
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