Petty squabbles & major crimes – Soni (London Film Festival Review)

Rating:

Crime dramas usually start with a dead body or conspiracy. There is a partnership that is challenged, words exchanged, heated moments and the case gets solved. Crime dramas rarely focus on the day to day in the life of a police officer or delve deeper into a smaller case or incident. ‘Soni’ takes time to explore the relationship between two dedicated police officers that happen to be women.

In present day Dehli, two police officers, working the night shift, Soni (Geetika Vidya Ohlyan), a hotheaded officer and her superior Kalpana (Geetika Vidya Ohlyan) are trying to fight crimes against women, one operation at a time, but Soni’s reckless behavior, somewhat fueled by difficulties in her personal life, may cause damage to her career.

Director and co-writer Ivan Ayr chooses very carefully what is shown about his two leads’ lives. Kalpana, the wealthier of the two lives with her husband, a higher ranking police officer and dotes on her niece who she has a close bond. Soni, living alone, as her husband makes the odd appearance wanting to see his wife and beg forgiveness for a tragedy that is unknown to the audience. With these fragments of their personal and professional lives, piece-by-piece we are expected to determine what has happened to these women. The cases/operations they are left to resolve are a mixture of petty quarrels to catching two fellow officers blackmailing students after dark. The running theme of incidents is how women are treated; catcalling, perverse comments on the phone in the control center and being beaten in a restaurant bathroom. Both Soni and Kalpana want to fight these crimes but each have their own way of trying to resolve issues. Soni makes snap judgments, not always good ones and Kalpana wants to try and win every fight by the book. Somehow these two women manage to work together knowing it will be difficult but not impossible to catch the wrong doers and still feel that they’ve done the right thing.

More all the film’s merits, there is still a feeling that the subject matter, regarding women whether is about crimes against them or how they are perceived in society, the film doesn’t delve deep enough but rather scratches the surface of a the two leads’ experiences. Further context to the women’s lives or their other operations may have added more to the story.

As a first feature film, Ayr has created an interesting to start to an on-going conversation, one that needs and should be extended outside one’s own country and comfort zone. Soni and Kalpana are team and there is hope that their work continues and hopefully inspires others.

Dir: Ivan Ayr

Scr: Ivan Ayr, Kislay Kislay

Prd: Kimsi Singh, Kartikeya Narayan Singh

Cast:Geetika Vidya Ohlyan, Saloni Batra, Vikas Shukla

DoP: David Bolen

Music: Nicholas Jacobson-Larson, Andrea Penso

Year: 2018

Country: India

Running time: 97 minutes