When I was invited to watch the first premier of Siya, I knew I was going to witness another soulful and honest film about a socially relevant topic following the legacy of previous Manish Mundra films, like Masaan, Newton and more. These were some of the movies which connected with the audience on a personal level. However, I was taken by surprise because Siya surpassed all of my expectations.
Siya is the story of Sita Singh, a victim of barbaric atrocities by people known to her. Instead of accepting her fate, she decides to fight for justice, for her self-respect, and for a closure to her pain. But the price she has to pay in this struggle is chilling.
The film not only shocked me with its sheer straightforward approach but it also left me with goosebumps. No whitewashing of crimes by justifications or reasons. No polishing of gruesome horror. Nothing fancy. It was all incredibly blatant and that separates Siya from all other social movies.
Siya doesn’t aim to be a band-aid offered to patch the ripping seams of the social fabric. In contrast, it acts as a magnifying glass for everyone to observe the tattered remains, the torn seams, and the degeneracy of the social system. It doesn’t offer solutions. It asks hard questions. There are no quick-fix remedies. Instead, it’s a call for justice and the long pause that follows it. Dark. Deep. Shattering. But very pertinent and gripping.
At some places, the audience might feel they’ve read about this before. Ironically, that’s when the realization hits about the regularity with which the crime against women feature in the news media. People read about them every day and still, most are forgotten after a few discussions.
Siya is a heart-wrenching reminder that yesterday’s painful story published in the newspapers is someone’s reality that she is bound to live with, every day of her life. It’s hard-hitting to witness how she has to go through it, over and over again, only to get justice. Don’t expect a feel-good, happy, or comfortable movie. Instead, expect a lot of things about Siya which will leave you uncomfortable and shaken.
I applaud Drishyam films for choosing a difficult subject, and for conceptualizing and executing it with all sincerity. Manish Mundra’s directorial debut is impressive. His story-telling is elaborate and unhurried, making best use of thoughtful metaphors to depict emotions and situations. Simple, thought-provoking dialogues. No big speeches. No cliché lashing out at the system. It doesn’t seem necessary as well, for the truth is bare to be observed in the layered visuals, and not to be told in words. The minimal background music is hauntingly beautiful, sufficed sparingly by chirping birds, peacock calls, and sounds of the crickets at night. The premise of the village set in rural India is one of the strongest aspects of the film.
All of the actors have done a brilliant job of bringing alive their characters on screen. Vineet Singh’s restrained aggression is a finely nuanced performance. However, the lead actor Pooja Pandey’s Siya takes the cake. Her eyes speak volumes though her lips are sealed. Her emotional portrayal of the girl standing up for herself is commendable.
I’ve never understood giving star-ratings to books and movies. Being an author, I love detailed discussions. Either I recommend a work of art to everyone, or else, I ask people to avoid it.
On this parameter, I rate Siya as – Definitely Recommended!
Watch Siya for its undiluted narration of social injustice. Watch it for those sufferers who either don’t make it to the headlines, or when they do, their stories die following an uproar lasting a couple of weeks. Siya highlights the sluggish pace of justice, combined with the apathy of the entire community.
More than everything, watch Siya to cheer that cinema is still alive in India and some creators don’t shy away from making films about issues, otherwise brushed under the carpet. When we support them, more such brave films will see the light of the day.
Siya releases in theatres on 16th September 2022. My heartiest congratulations to the entire team for bringing forth this courageous movie.