Sonali Cable review: Rhea's annoyingly bubbly, Ali Fazal stuck playing arm candy
Director Charudutt Acharya's Sonali Cable is based on a promising premise. A young girl, Sonali Dattaram Tande (Rhea Chakraborty) is an internet service provider and runs her business with the help of two boys from her neighbourhood. She is hard working, dedicated, rather athletic (the first thing we see Sonali do is jump from one roof to another) and occasionally foul-mouthed. Most importantly for her customers, Sonali Cable never goes offline.
Then along comes the Fortune Group company, Shining. Determined to set up a monopoly in Mumbai with its broadband services, Shining starts uprooting small internet businesses. Some internet providers weep and give in without a fight. Sonali, however, is adamant to save her business. So begins a turf war between Shining Broadband and Sonali Cable. No prizes for guessing who wins this David-versus Goliath contest set in the Bollywood version of a Mumbai chawl.
Unfortunately, all this sounds much more fun on paper than it is on screen. At two hours and seven minutes, the film shouldn't feel long-winded, but it does. Sonali Cable's biggest drawback is Rhea Chakraborty. For most parts, Chakraborty's acting is stagy and reminds you of a kid in a school play. She is annoyingly bubbly and for a young woman who has supposedly established a business that caters to 3,000 customers, she's astonishingly naive. As the love-struck girl who gazes at her old classmate Raghu (Ali Fazal), she's credible enough but as the plot thickens and demand more from Chakraborty, her shortcomings as an actress become glaring. It does not help that the dialogues in the film sound melodramatic.
A sharp contrast to Chakraborty's Sonali is Fazal's Raghu. Fazal, who played Vidya Balan's arm candy in Bobby Jasoos, has a similar role in Sonali Cable. However, even though he is stuck playing second fiddle, he puts up a fairly good performance. There are obvious similarities between Tasawur (from Bobby Jasoos) and Raghu, but Fazal makes them distinctively different. Also, despite how the script makes him behave, Fazal manages to make Raghu seem somewhat realistic. However, Fazal's character has little screen time and it isn't enough to redeem Sonali Cable.
After Chakraborty, Raghav Juyal has the most crucial role in this film. For those of you who don't know him, Juyal is a choreographer who has appeared in several seasons of Dance India Dance and is making his Bollywood debut with Sonali Cable.
In the film, Juyal plays the role of Sada, one of the boys who helps Sonali at the cable centre. Juyal has great screen presence and seems effortless for most parts. However Acharya's insistence on using Juyal's dancing skills as a USP in this film comes across as terribly forced. Acharya seems hell-bent on making Juyal dance, as a consequence of which, we see Juyal dance even when there is no music, like when he's simply participating in a normal conversation or chilling at a party. At one point in the film, we also see an apparition of him and yes, that too, is dancing. What makes things worse is that the music of Sonali Cable is utterly forgettable. It's telling that the director has used several songs from old RSE films (RSE has produced Sonali Cable) to liven things up.
Acharya also fails to strike a balance between bringing a real story to life and endorsing Bollywood's style of over-the-top storytelling. The script isn't logically sound. Over the course of two hours, there is a gory murder, one attempted murder, back stories of lead characters that are constantly being referred to, attacks and confrontations, and yet, no matter how much Sonali and her motley bunch suffers, as an audience you neither feel their loss nor their pain. Even Anupam Kher's Narayan Singh Whagela as the villain of the film seems part caricature-ish and part menacing, as a result of which, he is neither fun to watch nor does he comes across as a terrifying baddie. There is a bogus monologue in the name of anti-climax and in the last ten minutes all loose ends are tangled into a messy knot for the sake of ending the film.
However, while the main characters are half-baked, the smaller characters are much more fun. Be it Swanand Kirkire as Sonali's father, who is now an alcoholic and used to be a low-level worker for a political party; or Raghu's mom (Smita Jaykar) who is both a loving and overbearing parent as well a shrewd politician who doesn't fit the usual stereotype. Even the hacker from Bangladesh and the cougar housewife client of Sonali Cable manage to make an impression.
But alas, in the end, these small characters add little to the plot. The film solely rests on Chakraborty's Sonali and ironically enough, that's why for most of Sonali Cable, the audience feels disconnected.
Updated Date: Oct 17, 2014 12:43:07 IST
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