In the backdrop of the movie there are two female police officers from two completely different classes, struggling to find their power and identity in a male dominated profession; at the forefront of the movie there are two women battling everyday hypocrisy, sexism and misogyny thrown their way at every step.
In the current scenario, a movie like Soni is a breath of fresh air, and shifts our focus to realistic cinema while raising some relevant questions. It does an important task of depicting everyday misogyny and male entitlement throughout the reel with the help of ingenious but thought-provoking scenes.
Directed by Ivan Ayr, the movie starts with a woman walking on a deserted road getting catcalled by a man. The woman is a cop, Soni (Geetika Vidya Ohlyan) on decoy police operation who goes on to break the jaw of the man and leaves him with one swollen eye. Despite the fact that the movie is named Soni, the other lead character Kalpana (Saloni Batra), Soni’s immediate senior in the Delhi police department, also plays an equally important role in the film. Soni is a feisty woman with a vigorous attitude, while her senior, the IPS officer is someone who is well-familiar with the bitter realities of the sexist profession, and is often seen asking Soni to tone it down. Despite their contrasting backgrounds Kalpana and Soni get along well. Kalpana, many a times saves Soni from disciplinary actions and understands her perspective, even though she may not agree with her at all times.
The characters show us the unrealistic pressure faced by women both at professional and personal fronts. Both Kalpana and Soni have difficulties in their marriages. Both are victims of gender inequality but there is an evident difference in how the two women decide to tackle it.
The casual sexism by men in position of powers is shown when Kalpana’s husband and relatives comment on Soni for attacking a person in self defense. The bond between Kalpana and Soni is strong mainly because they are both victims of inherent and insidius misogyny, their social strata notwithstanding.
The film also underlines police brutality and India’s miserable track record of female violence. The beauty lies in the strong performances, crisp dialogues and eschewing background music that enables the director to tell an important tale in an understated manner avoiding unnecessary grandeur that’s prevalent in Bollywood movies otherwise.
Soni is a peek into the hard-hitting reality about women safety in the country even for the ones in positions of power. It makes a pertinent point that regardless of who you are, if you are a woman, chances are you would be treated differently (not in a good way). No matter where a woman goes, whether it’s the streets, the workplace or her own home, she is constantly reminded to live up to societal expectations of femininity and motherhood.
Soni is one of the finest Hindi movies of recent times. Both the actors delivered commendable performances without being too loud. The slow burning narrative of the film keeps you hooked to your seat till the end, and you go on to switch off the TV feeling just a tad bit uncomfortable, which is what ‘Soni’ essentially aspires to do!