Abhishek Chaubey’s very scenic Sonchiriya, tramping along those nooks and crevices of the Chambal, expending hundreds of bullets and quarts of spraying blood, made familiar by countless ‘daaku’ films of the 70s and 80s, almost always feels like a retread.
Sonchiriya claims to be about a band of outlaws in wild search of a golden bird — but that bird may just be a goose. The film skims topics of caste, gender, religion and politics, and proves to be a film about the desperation to belong to something larger than oneself, the all-consuming desire to believe in something. Even birds of prey need to pray.
Sonchiriya tries to blend Spaghetti Western style-action drama with social commentary but it isn’t entirely satisfying on either count. You might also struggle with the language – Bundelkhandi – and it will help to see it with subtitles.
Director Abhishek Chaubey (Ishqiya, Udta Punjab) glides us into the harsh lifestyle of bandits or rebels as they like to call themselves. They speak of their difficulties in as many words but can’t leave this life because they have never known anything better. It’s cruel, pointless and vengeful. Everything is personal and nothing is personal.
Anchored by terrific performances by its star-ensemble, Chaubey brings his assured directorial mind to an eerily beautiful film.
Gripping, tense and unpredictable, despite being a slow-burn western, Chaubey’s period thriller makes for a riveting watch. It manages to engage, suspect, shock and transport you to a world where people yearn for salvation over survival.
Director Chaubey tries to get into the dynamics of the group and their equations with each other, but his and Sudip Sharma's script is too heavy-handed. Sometimes, it is farcical and suddenly gives way to an emotional scene.There is a half-hearted attempt to weave in real-life bandit Phoolan Devi's story, but that falls flat. The film's dialogue is entirely in the Bundelkhandi dialect, which lends authenticity to the proceedings.
It's unlikely that those in the cities will identify with this offering. But yes, if you're a curious cinema fiend, Sonchiriya will entice you.
Sonchiriya is a rare bird, the metaphorical redemption that everyone is seeking. Apni apni Sonchiriya, apni apni mukti. It’s ultimately a journey towards finding your own bird of salvation.
Audience Reviews for Sonchiriya
Abhishek Chaubhey's Sonchiriya (Golden Bird) is a deeply distressing chronicle of the rebels of Chambal, Madhya Pradesh and their activities that defy local law enforcement in the most bloodiest way possible that brings various issues involving caste, politics, personal vendetta, and gender discrimination with much rawness albeit with a tiring frame that can put you off countless times in its 150-minute running time.