Movie Review: Sonali Cable - A faulty connect

Film returns to give us a fuller picture of exactly how vulnerable but determined Sonali is against Vaghela’s hostile plans
Movie Name: Sonali Cable (U/A) 127 min
Cast: Rhea Chakraborty, Ali Fazal, Anupam Kher, Swanand Kirkire, Raghav Juyal, Smita Jaykar
Director: Charudutt Acharya
Rating: (2/5)
Writer-director Charudutt Acharya’s film, Sonali Cable, begins with an interesting montage that establishes the role of Internet in our lives. The Net takes care of a lot of things — relationships, businesses, loneliness...

But just as we are settling in for what promises to be a touching tragicomedy, snap goes the connection and in pounces Sonali Dattaram Tandel (Rhea Chakraborty), a perky, petulant long-waisted superwoman who lunges from one balcony to the other, and sprints about on a scooty with her two assistants to restore the Internet connection. This unreal girl in a real setting is really upsetting.

In the next scene the film’s premise is established in a way that screams "Plotline for Dummies". Vaghela (Anupam Kher) is a khakra-crunching businessman who owns Shining, an Internet behemoth, mistreats his staff and wants to establish his monopoly in Mumbai by destroying all small, local cable networks.
He is Big Brother with evil designs, is surrounded by soulless men and women who’ll do his bidding, and together they are out to fleece idiot common people. The Orwellian gloom is, again, promising.

The story set, the film returns to give us a fuller picture of exactly how vulnerable but determined Sonali is against Vaghela’s hostile plans. She is a partner in Sonali Cables, with Meena Tai Pawar (Smita Jaykar), a meany politician. But Meena Tai’s America-returned son, Raghu (Ali Fazal), is sweet on Sonali, and Sonali blushes and simpers to signal mutual feelings. He is to take over the cable business, but chooses to play second-fiddle to Sonali.

While love is blooming, Shining threat is looming and here the film, again, briefly, acquires a nice political tone. The theme is exactly what B.R. Chopra explored in his 1957 film, Naya Daur, and one that’s been dealt with in several films before and since: Big is not better; profit-mooching capitalism is bad for people — it’s indifferent to customers’ needs and problems, unlike the small, local business which cares. Small, the film says, is beautiful, and it stacks up nice arguments and anecdotes to make its point. This is the film’s emotional connect.

Most of us weep inside when we revisit our old places to find that the small but significant extensions of our lives have turned into seemingly-efficient but characterless American clones or become graveyards of fashion, taste and aesthetics with loud hoardings announcing so-much-money-I-know-not-what-to-do.
The spaces these new glass-panelled entities stand over were organic political, cultural, social incubators that nurtured dialogue, discussion, a way of life. They were personal, inclusive — safe for a rant, for pamphleteering, for an idle afternoon, or a dilatory discussion about this and that as the sun rose and then set again.

Today’s bright sunmica entities are indifferent. By design. It’s not just empty nostalgia we feel for times that were. It’s a cry for a city gone estranged.
The film, too, moves in that fashion. While initially it hints that the incessant cry of “Jai Maharashtra” may be ironic, that it speaks for all — for manoos of all shades — that thought is kicked away when the film goes all out to woo Marathi Manoos, Shiv Sena style.

From egalitarian, the film goes provincial, parochial. Saffron becomes its favourite colour and it bathes in it, repeatedly, and it endorses "violence for a just cause". Vaghela, Bose are bad; most Marathis are good, especially the Marathi-speaking ones. And the ones who are not, can be made good. Only one character, Sonali's father (played by Swanand Kirkire), straddles these two worlds with a story that's interesting, but he's outdone by a shoddy script.

The film has been gearing for a face-off. Sonali the cheenti has to make Vaghela the haathi do disco. But when, finally, the small vendor faces big business, instead of talking about the virtues of small, personalised business and services, the film brings out the violins and invokes Ma. That’s a sad cop-out for a film that seemed to have worked out its politics.

Though Charudutt Acharya’s characters in Sonali Cable have stories and context, his film flails about, unable to decide what it is. That’s partly because Rhea Chakraborty’s Sonali is completely unbelievable, and because the film's bigotry keeps overtaking its socialist spirit.

Rhea is sweet, bubbly and reasonably efficient. But her hustling about and then huffing away is more suited to a large wedding than to this social endeavour.
Ali Fazal is handsome but so awkward that for a long time I could not recall where I had seen him last — in a much more confident avatar in Bobby Jasoos.
But he and Rhea have nice chemistry. Or was I just taken in by the super hot kiss they share. Dunno. Anupam Kher’s Vaghela is a creepy character made even more creepy by a hygiene accessory.

PS: Sonali Cable’s song, Cheenti Cheenti Bang Bang, is taken from the title of a 2008 animation film directed by R.D. Mallik, without any credit. But then, what’s a tiny film by a small fry in front of the Goliath that is Ramesh Sippy Entertainment. Irony, anyone?

( Source : dc )
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