The primary time we meet 17-year-old Siya (Pooja Pandey), she’s telling her brother a bedtime story. It’s the one second of candy, uncomplicated happiness for our protagonist. Quickly after, her life will hurtle headlong into trauma and chaos. Methods might be manipulated, the harmless might be victimised and each time it appears as if the worst has occurred, a brand new improvement will reveal a brand new low. Predators lurk in each nook of the village of Devganj the place Siya lives. From the misfortunes that befall her, it appears secure to say the gods have forsaken Devganj.
When Siya goes lacking sooner or later, Mahender (Vineet Kumar Singh), a household good friend who works as a notary in Delhi, urges Siya’s mother and father to file a police grievance. Nevertheless, the police refuse to entertain their pleas. Siya’s is a poor, lower-caste household and the upper-caste policemen dismiss them peremptorily. After a neighborhood newspaper carries a small article on the lacking woman, a neighborhood politician orders the police to seek out her. Siya is finally rescued from an deserted constructing, the place she was chained to a mattress by 4 males from Devganj who had kidnapped her, saved her captive and raped her. Her launch marks not the tip of her trauma, however the starting.
Siya’s story echoes the horrific tragedy of the 2017 Unnao rape case. Over two years, a 17-year-old survivor and her household suffered horrible injustices and oppression — all as a result of she’d come ahead to accuse a legislator, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, of rape. That is troublesome terrain for a first-time director and author to navigate and Mundra, who’s greatest recognized for having backed movies like Ankhon Dekhi (2014), Masaan (2015) and Newton (2017) as a producer, treads fastidiously. As a debutant director, there’s rather a lot he will get proper. The movie is unforgiving in its portrait of the morally-corrupt politician, who exploits the weak and abuses his energy. The police and the courts don’t fare significantly better, with the previous being proven as spineless and the latter as toothless. Devganj, its areas and its residents really feel genuine. Pandey delivers a robust efficiency as Siya and she or he’s ably supported by a solid that appears to inhabit their roles. The one moments of uncomfortable artifice are within the room the place Siya is held captive, when the digicam trains its gaze on the purple, peeling partitions which might be too apparent a visible metaphor for the violence being inflicted upon Siya.
The issue with this well-meaning movie is that its give attention to the social points underpinning the plot, blinds it to every thing else. It’s so fixated on showcasing trauma that it loses sight of empathy. The pile-up of tragedies shortly numbs the viewers and a depressive lethargy settles over Siya. It doesn’t assist that a lot of the characters look like strolling clichés. The native politician lives as much as each unfavourable stereotype related to higher caste patriarchs of rural north India. The a number of policemen mix right into a khaki blur of prejudice, violence and callous disregard. Regardless of being on the centre of the story, Siya is diminished to the trauma she’s suffered and finally ends up feeling nearly like a tool designed to show the ugly and corrupt alliance between the political institution and legislation enforcement. All we learn about Siya is the best way she’s violated. Even her identify — a modification of Sita — is a loaded reference because the legendary heroine of the Ramayana was kidnapped and suffered nice injustices. By the tip of the movie, regardless that she is technically a survivor, Siya looks like a sufferer, an object of pity reasonably than an individual with whom one can empathise.
Flawed as it’s, Siya is a valiant first effort for Mundra as a director. Rooted in gender violence, caste prejudice and the politics of rural north India, the movie indicators Mundra’s dedication to telling tales that talk uncomfortable truths. It additionally factors to the necessity for Indian filmmakers to consider how they’ll articulate violence and violations in a means that feels impactful however doesn’t demean or dehumanise both the actor or the topic. Tales like Siya’s converse reality to society and so they shouldn’t be forgotten. Nevertheless, to render these tales much less memorable within the technique of retelling them, can be to do them an injustice.