Ivan Ayr‘s new Netflix film Soni is a must watch. It thrives on its minimalism, and says so much about the inherent patriarchy and gender terror prevelant at every nook and corner of the society we live in – doesn’t matter if it is the dark deserted bylanes of a big city, the secured classrooms of the most modern schools, the police headquarters itself, or the posh interiors of the homes of A list administrators of our country.
The film takes us along to live the lives of two women in the police force, the impulsive, short tempered but very sincere police inspector Soni (a terrific Geetika Vidya Ohlyan) and her superior at work, a much more matured and composed IPS officer Kalpana (an outstanding Saloni Batra) – two women who are as different as they are similar, each admiring the other and possibly aspiring to be the other secretly as well. They are out there protecting the law for so many women to feel safer on the streets, but are fighting their own battles of broken relationships or elitist misogyny at homes. They stand as towers of strength in their positions, want to stand up to the inherent bullying of the system that they continually deal with, but deep within are loners who are still struggling to balance out peace and self respect in their personal spaces. The agency of the strongest of women feels terribly compromised in front of the toxic masculinity they constantly face. Such is the ingrained patriarchal tuning of the environment around them that they don’t even protest a ‘Sir’ addressal anymore, or don’t push back hard when there is uncalled for pressure to reunite with or plan for a family. They even acknowledge that in the hypocritical society they live in, they can feel relatively safer under the wraps of sindoor or by dressing up like the gender they are anyway role playing as.
The beauty of Soni lies in the fact that Ayr is able to communicate so many deep thoughts with an extremely sparse and easy going cinematic language, built on top of single take long shots for each scene. This makes the storytelling extremely personal and intimate, captivating the viewer to think deep about the most taken for granted aspects of our daily lives. That is rare for our cinema. Don’t miss the experience. Watch Soni on Netflix as soon as you can.
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