Siya (2022/ Cinema Release/ Drama)
Writer/ Director- Manish Mundra
Cast – Pooja Pandey, Vineet Kumar Singh
Siya is the story of rape survivor who fights for justice and rape stories are one of the most dreaded premises for me. But then Siya comes from a production house and film maker Manish Mundra who has given us the likes of Masaan, Newton, Ankhon Dekhi, Dhanak, Rukh, Kadwi Hawa, Kamyaab amongst many others. So there’s a certain promise that comes from such legacy.
Siya marks his directorial debut and true to the legacy, he delivers a film with,what Drishyam Films is synonymous with ,subtlety and substance.
You enter Siya’s world with trepidation.
A night scene, wherein your rationale self tells you is a false alarm, but your pulse refuses to slow down.
The moment was thankfully uneventful but was a reminder to a reality that a sizeable population is yet to see the connection between toilets and hygiene, forget women’s safety.
The story goes on to introduce us to Siya’s world and more such uncomfortable realities. She craves to study and take up a job in the city. But all she’s made to do is running errands, chores and attending to her little brother.She quietly faces the hooliganism of some village boys belonging to a powerful family, She is apparently very disturbed about something but unable to share with anyone.
Does not sound too different from the story of thousands of girls in our villages. But more than the story, it is all about the way it has been presented.
We get a peep into her life, her aspirations, fears and frustrations in a neat and simple portrayal that doesn’t need to say too much through words.The fabulous screenplay, locations, minute art details, the ensemble cast, performances, everything lends a disconcerting realism.
When Siya goes missing, that is when Mundra raises the bar. While you have so far escaped with just a disconcerting feeling so far, now it is the onset of an emotional rollercoaster. There’s extreme dread, for you know what is going on with her while the helpless family is frantically looking for her.There’s disgust and frustration to see the police’s total apathy.
When she’s finally discovered, thanks to the story of a journalist who is actually more bothered about earning Rs.500 that he gets for a news piece, you are further aghast to see the police handle the victim and mishandle the procedures that ensue.
Graphic visuals have been avoided but the picturization and details shared are enough to make it tough.
All this while you realise that the cinematography and the background score have been adding heft and quietly raising the distress quotient.
The story goes on to tell us Siya’s quest for justice and reminds us how scary it is for a common or poor man to fight for it especially when pitched against the powerful.
You feel awed by their courage and saddened by the unchanged social political scenario.
Her decision to fight does not happen dramatically or immediately after her ordeal.
The story at no point of time gives in to sensationalism or drama or thrill. That is probably the only downside pointed out in this finely made film by some viewers.
But honestly, in my opinion, there’s enough drama in ugly reality and there’s been enough drama in the real life cases that the story seems to be based on. For now, the realism portrayed is enough to keep you mentally glued and emotionally invested.
The two songs, very well placed, are meaningful, melodious and trigger an overwhelming feel.
Pooja Pandey makes a confident debut with an effortless and very subdued portrayal.
Vineet Kumar Singh, quietly lets Pooja take the centre stage while giving a solid and impressive performance.
Manish Mundra not only avoids sensationalism and drama, but also unnecessary controversial aspects or shrouded narratives or oblique messages.
The film thrives on simplicity and honesty of its storytelling. The realism that he lends to it is enough to make that gut wrenching impact on you.
Score 3.5 on 5