Netflix and Chill – Ivan Ayr’s ‘Soni’ (2019) Review

It’s tough to be a woman. In a world that reeks of the toxic masculinity, a woman barely manages to speak up. Those who do, are labelled audacious but at the same time, victimised and largely marginalised. The notion of someone’s gender, which’s not male, is often considered weaker by default. Which opens up a bigger problem in society. We consider ourselves broadminded yet we look down and judge a woman, especially in an authoritative position. We question their decision-making ability. We mansplain them to the hilt. We. The male gender. And that’s the beginning of the problem. Debutant director Ivan Ayr’s ‘Soni’ explores this theme, through the eyes of two female police officers, struggling hard in a man’s world, in this case, the Delhi Police department. It’s one of the finest films of this year, something that Netflix should be proud and commended for backing it up. 

Soni and Kalpana, are two police officers where Kalpana is an IPS and Soni, an Inspector reporting to Kalpana. The film begins as we see an undercover Soni, in an operation, trying to arrest eve teasers, brutally beats one. This temperamental yet efficient officer, who lives estranged from her husband, is a hot-headed woman, often having run-ins with his superiors. Kalpana is supportive of her understudy and tries to counsel her, often saving her from departmental enquiring. Kalpana belongs to a family of police officers yet she silently grinds between the oft-familiar expectations and her duty. Between their individual struggles, these two women develop a kinship that goes beyond their duties. 

Director Ivan Ayr ensures there’s no sugar coating of the fact that we’re living in dangerous times. A nation is at a crossroad, where it ponders at the thought of listening to its women, only to be pulled back by the patriarchal mindsets that have been instrumental in defining it. Kalpana sees it home where despite being a capable officer herself, she gets rebuked by her husband, deeming her emotional and not being worthy of an IPS. Soni is often considered as an officer causing tantrums and her rage is attributed to her personal life, which’s in shambles. Writing the script, along with co-writer Kislay, director Ayr highlights the misogyny that’s so prominent in our society. Shot prominently in Delhi, NCR and suburbs, the cinematography by David Bolen efficiently capture that side of a city that is always in the news for all the wrong reasons. 

The film is led by Saloni Batra, who plays Kalpana and Geetika Vidya Ohlyan, playing the titular role of Soni. The women shine in their respective performances. Almost as the yin to the yang, they support each other to come up with a superb portrayal of two righteous women. Saloni’s restrained act is equally matched with Geetika’s ferocious portrayal of a woman, who is provoked at the hint of injustice. Mohit Chauhan, who’s often seen on television, plays the judgemental husband who deems Kalpana too soft-hearted to be a police officer and does it well. Rest of the ensemble is perfectly cast. 

‘Soni’ is a film that deserves to be seen by all. Running at a timeline of 1 hour and 37 minutes, it’s perfectly paced and doesn’t let you down at all. Hindi films have often been accused of showing the police officers as either inept or chest thumping Singhams. ‘Soni’ shows the real mechanism of the force that runs, interlaced with red tape bureaucracy. 

A must watch!

The Cinemawala Rating: 3.5/5

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