Rhea Chakraborty, Ali Fazal, Anupam Kher
Remember the early days of broadband internet in India, when you were dependent on the often-erratic service from local cable operators? Every time something would go wrong, or someone needed a new connection, a scrawny guy in torn jeans and T-shirt would come along, wires strung over his shoulder. Perhaps if they’d sent a cute girl in a tank top instead, we’d have kept the connection a little while longer.
For his directorial debut, Charudutt Acharya takes this setting, adds generous amounts of Bollywood
, and attempts to create a classic David-versus-Goliath story out of it.
Sonali (Rhea Chakraborty) is your cute, local internet supplier. She’s poor, a school dropout, but is feisty and independent. And she does have a scrawny guy for a sidekick. When a big, evil multinational company that’s out for monopoly comes along, she refuses to fold.
The premise, even if dated, is real enough. But what starts off as a light-hearted, slice-of-life comedy, soon becomes tremendously self-serious, and, eventually, outrageous: hitmen on bikes to take out a local cable supplier. Really?
Movie Review: Sonali Cable fails to impress despite a good script
The script for Sonali Cable was apparently selected in 2012, from among many others, for a screenwriters’ lab that has the prestigious Sundance Institute associated with it. It’s curious as to what kind of work would have gone into developing it since. For, even with a mere 127 minute runtime, it runs out of ideas. And whatever it does have are plain old borrowed set pieces.
A romantic angle is inserted for the heck of having one. Sonali’s childhood love interest, Raghu (Ali Fazal), returns after having studied abroad. The rich boy-poor girl trope plays out, with the boy’s politician mother as the standard-issue parent who doesn’t approve of their relationship, but eventually relents. There’s even a vamp (the sort we thought died a cinematic death in the ’90s), who appears in a bikini, and dives into a pool to entice the man and make our nice protagonist Sonali jealous. Because, you know, that’s what vamps do.
Fazal shows that rare bit of screen presence, which he seems to be bring to all his roles. But that can barely save a film so amateurish that scenes intended or shock or sadden start making you laugh.
Add cringe-worthily meta dialogue – "I think I’m going offline," says a character struck by a sledgehammer on the head (in the worst death scene we’ve seen in recent times) – and it just becomes impossible to take Mr Acharya seriously. Our suggestion would be to consider a serious upgrade the next time around.