At one point in time, a genre had emerged in Hindi cinema related to films based on dacoits. Many memorable films have been made in this genre and some of them are – Mother India , Ganga Jamuna bandit queen , The country in which the Ganges flows (1960], My village my country , china gate [ 1998] And so on . At the same time there were some films which were not completely based on dacoits, but their dacoit character became very popular and some of them were Sholay. , shame  e.t.c . But recently came Paan Singh Tomar  In which the dacoits and their Chambal area are shown. And now it is on this genre that director Abhishek Chaubey has come up with the film, Sonchiriya, which is based on the backdrop of Chambal. Undoubtedly, Abhishek comes from a different cinematic mindset and this is known from the beginning and after watching the trailer it seems that Sonchiriya is not a casual commercial entertainer. Still, does Sonchiriya manage to impress the audience or it fails in its endeavor, let us review.
Sonchidiya is the story of a group of rebels in Chambal. The year is 1975. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has declared emergency in the country. Man Singh (Manoj Bajpai), meanwhile, leads a gang in Chambal, which is more or less lawless. Vakil Singh (Ranveer Shorey) and Lakhna (Sushant Singh Rajput) are important members of this gang. Man Singh needs money to buy new weapons. Based on a tip from Lachhu (Jaspal Sharma), Man Singh and his gang come to Brahmpuri village to rob. A wedding is taking place in this village, in which the groom is going to get a huge amount of gold and cash. To rob this gold and money, Man Singh and his gang reach the wedding venue. However, the police led by Virendra Gurjar (Ashutosh Rana) attack his gang by laying a trap for him. Man Singh and half of the gang are killed in a fierce fight. Vakil, Lakhna and others run away. Now the lawyer, the head of the gang, accuses Lakhna of betraying them and calling the police. Lakhna does not like the life of the rebel so she and her two companions want to surrender. Meanwhile, he encounters Indumati Tomar (Bhumi Pednekar). Indumati appeals to her to help a little girl Sonchiriya (Khushi), whom she describes as her younger sister, as she has been raped and needs to be taken to the hospital. The lawyer’s gang agrees to help Lakhna at her behest. The lawyer and his gang stop at a temple to seek the blessings of their mother, but Indumati’s husband and his son arrive. It is revealed here that Indumati has been accused of killing her father-in-law and hence she asks the gang of rebels to hand her over to Indu. The lawyer agrees but Lakhna doesn’t feel it all right. What happens next, will be known after watching the rest of the film.
The story of Abhishek Chaubey and Sudeep Sharma is interesting and well written. The characters are also told very well. Sudeep Sharma’s screenplay helps keep the narrative entertaining. However, some events need to be better explained. The dialect already makes things difficult to understand. And besides, some of the twists are so sudden and quick that the viewers might find it difficult to understand them. Sudeep Sharma’s dialogues are quite sharp and flamboyant.
Abhishek Choubey’s direction does full justice to the story and background. It is a complex film and in most senses, he succeeds. Whereas on the contrary, he should have avoided some slow motion shots as it is not that attractive. Moreover, a film of such budget and scale requires execution which makes the film more mainstream and commercial. Sonchiriya however, is for a select audience. Ishqiya  Se Dedh Ishqiya  Till, Phir Udta Punjab  And now Sonchiriya, Abhishek has consistently mastered the handling of such difficult subjects.
Sonchidiya’s intro scene is of flies feasting on the corpse of a snake. The close-up shot of this scene is quite bloody and makes it clear that one needs to have a big liver to see the film’s further proceedings. Apart from this, the language of the film is also quite bitter. It takes only a few minutes to understand the Bundelkhandi dialect, the setting of the film, the characters. After that you go from bondage to the film. The madness that erupts during the wedding scene is quite captivating. And so is the fight at the doctor’s house. Indumati and Sonchiriya’s entry adds to the drama and tension. The story of the film intensifies when Indumati’s husband arrives at the temple. After the interval, the film falls apart a bit. The flashback part, though very important, is very long. Up to a point, it feels a bit repetitive as the audience has seen similar action and dramatic sequences in the first half. But the way it ends is a shock. Even in Beni Ram’s house, this sequence seems incomprehensible. Something similar happens in the entry scene of Phulia, which increases the interest further. There are many surprising twists in the finale. However, there are a lot of characters and a lot of things happen in the film. As a result, some developments can be difficult to understand. There is also excessive violence and abuse in the film.
Acting in a film like this is a tough job. The entry scene of Sushant Singh Rajput is such that you might not even notice him, as he stands among the other gang members and looks exactly like him. He doesn’t even try to show himself. This in itself is commendable. Of course later, he dominates and proves once again that he is one of the best actors. He looks very cute in the scene when he shows his magic. Bhumi Pednekar’s entry is quite late in the film but once she gets into the story, she stuns with her delivery. She gives a commendable performance. Manoj Bajpayee stuns everyone in his special appearance. Wish he had a longer role. Ranvir Shorey also gives a great performance. Her performance during her confrontation with Lachhu before the climax is worth watching. In fact, his portrayal of the character and the way it progresses is an important arc of the film. Ashutosh Rana’s eyes speak volumes and are as impressive as ever. Khushiya hardly has any dialogues but that is a very important part because in fact, the film is named after her character. But she leaves an indelible mark with her silence. So is Hetal (little Gurjar girl), who hunts Lakhna and Man Singh. His gestures are quite scary. Sampa Mandal (Phulia) is terrifying and the film has a surprise. She plays the role based on the real-life dacoit Phoolan Devi and she plays it brilliantly. Among the gang members Ram Diwakar (Natthi), Mukesh Gaur (Sheetala), Mahesh Balraj (Bhoor) and Abhimanyu Arun (lad Ram) are brilliant. Other actors who do well are Jaspal Sharma, VK Sharma (priest), Dev Chauhan (Benny Ram), Vijay Kumar Dogra (Dr Bhadauria), Ashwini Mishra (Gopal) and Kumar (Lalla).
Vishal Bhardwaj’s music is apparently not of the chartbuster kind. Though none of the songs are memorable but they work well in the context of the film. ‘Baaghi Re’ and ‘Ruan Ruan’ are good. ‘Sonchiriya’ is well placed and shot. ‘Naina Na Maar’ and ‘Sapan Khavega’ are forgettable. The background score by Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor is subtle and impressive.
Anuj Rakesh Dhawan’s cinematography is splendid and captures the dry terrain brilliantly. Bird-eye shots are also captured well. Anton Moon and Sunil Rodrigues’s action is real and bloody. There’s a lot of bloodshed and violence in it but it’s still essential for a film of this genre. Rita Ghosh’s production design is authentic. The costumes of Divya and Nidhi Gambhir are perfectly suited to that era. Shrikant Desai’s makeup is worthy of praise. No actor looks glamorous. Meghna Sen’s editing is simple and unnatural. However, the flashback sequence in the second half has been dragged while it could have been shortened.
Overall, Sonchiriya is a well-made and well-shot film with a strong storyline and stellar performances that are its hallmarks. At the box office, its prospects will be limited as it will attract a different type of multiplex audience.