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SONCHIRIYA is authentic and gritty, but too long and a tad boring!

Superbly shot, realistically portrayed and powerfully performed, SONCHIRIYA is an action film on dacoits/rebels in the late 70’s India. Well conceptualized, but overindulgent with its social commentary, it fails to hold your attention you for its long runtime of nearly two and a half hours. Watchable, but remember you will need some patience to sit through this one!

Set in the Chambal valley, SONCHIRIYA follows the story of a legion of dreaded, warring dacoits who once terrorised the Indian heartlands.

The film’s strength lies in its impressive mounting and power-packed performances. The whole setup is incredibly real, and the action sequences are gut-wrenching. Director Abhishek Chaubey has a flair for raw gritty subjects which take you out of your comfort zone and make you realize the harsh realities (Remember UDTA PUNJAB?). He does that with panache here as well. However, he becomes so excessively involved in the subject and in making a point on casteism, gender bias and dirty politics, that he loses track of the duration. The underlying narrative is that these dark characters are all in search of that elusive Golden Bird (SONCHIRIYA) which is the reality of life.

The slow burn narrative doesn’t seem appropriate for this genre, as after a point, the proceedings become pointless. Even the moving eventual reveal in the climax doesn’t jolt you as much as it should, owing to the exhaustion of sitting through two and a half hours. Director Abhishek Chaubey is definitely extremely gifted and the texture and flavor he creates is a rarity in Bollywood. Visually the film is superlative and even the background score is top class. Chaubey does transport you into that grim world successfully. How I wish the screenplay was tighter and the proceedings more engaging.

The performances are terrific all through. I wouldn’t want to pick anyone out specially. Everyone gives in their best and they truly look and feel the part.

In all, SONCHIRIYA is contextually deep and texturally realistic. If only it was trimmed smartly, it could’ve been deeply moving and entertaining as well. Watchable for its finesse, but I repeat, you need patience!

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