A Stylishly Presented Indian Film
Stylishly presented and brilliantly acted, Indian film Soni is a fascinating look at the brutal reality of female inequality in India. If you’re looking for a slice-of-life drama with a thought provoking mesage around equality, Soni achieves this effortlessly. The overuse of long shots and a profound lack of an overarching plot does give the story a somewhat slow, disjointed nature though meaning it’s not going to be a film for everyone.
The story follows the life of two women working in the police force as they take on an alarming number of violent cases against women. From being undermined in their roles to coming face to face with the ugliness of crime, Soni doesn’t shy away from showing important topical issues. Throughout the film’s 90 minute run time we follow both characters as they go about their lives, dealing with their own drama and familial struggles both in and out of the job. The problem with Soni really lies with its inability to anchor both storylines to a greater purpose. There’s not much in the way of an overarching plot here and while the film is still enjoyable, it does feel overlong at times thanks to the previously mentioned long shots.
Still, when it comes to the characters in this drama both Geetika Vidya Ohlyan and Saloni Batra who play Soni and Kalpana respectively, shine. Their mannerisms, pent up frustration and cool-headedness in the face of casual sexism and harrassment is perfectly captured through their acting. It not only helps us empathise with their characters, it also gives us a really personal insight into what these women have to put up with everyday.
The film itself is shot really well too. With a profound lack of a musical score, Soni relies heavily on its cinematography to show off style and substance. It does this really well too, using a number of long, drawn out shots and handheld cameras to follow these ladies as they go about their lives. From the opening scene depicting Soni losing her temper at a passer-by, through to a scene near the end of the film involving a weed-smoking gang in a bathroom, every scene is meticulous and deliberately shot to really hammer home the underlying themes of the film.
Ultimately this is what makes Soni such a fascinating watch. Seeing the issues Indian women have to deal with everyday is an eye opening and humbling experience shown in its most raw form through the eyes of its two lead protagonists. Having said that, the lack of an overarching plot and the slow pace may turn some people away expecting something a little more exciting. It’s not perfect but it is an honest slice of filmmaking and for that alone, Soni is an artistic and hard hitting film worth checking out.