Movie Review: ‘Sonali Cable’

October 17, 2014

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Handout picture from the movie "Sonali Cable"Charudutt Acharya’s “Sonali Cable” telegraphs its intention in the title: it’s a communications movie, focusing on the Internet, that part of Indian urban life that has become indispensable to the growing ranks of India’s middle class. Grandparents use it to speak to their grandchildren living a continent away, bored housewives surf for erotica, and pot-bellied businessmen use it to run their businesses from home.

The growing need for Internet service is one well met by our baudy hero Sonali (Rhea Chakraborty), owner of a small cable service business. She is super-charged like the Energizer Bunny, jumping between buildings, flinging cable wires as enthusiastically as her dialogue, and zooming in and out of the screen with a perpetual grin plastered across her face. She’s a whiz with wires and definitely not the cable guy that the company usually sends out to hook up your service.

Like most smaller businesses in the communications field, Sonali is ripe for a buyout even though it seems like she has no intention to sell. That’s OK because the big, evil Shining Corporation, led by the hammy Anupam Kher (what is that cotton swab doing in his ear?), has no intention to make an offer, other than one she can’t refuse. She isn’t one to bow to threats, however, so she recruits Raghu (Ali Fazal), her childhood friend and son of local politician Meena (Smita Jaykar), to help her expand her business.

Handout picture from the movie "Sonali Cable"But the Shining gang isn’t having it, despite controlling most of the rest of the Internet access in Mumbai. It refuses to let Sonali enjoy a monopoly on her block, and isn’t above destroying property, committing fraud and even killing people to get what it wants. (Someone should have told them that decreasing the population means shrinking your potential subscriber base.)

Fazal as Raghu is restrained and pleasant to watch. He’s the antithesis of Kher, who as the evil owner of Shining Corporation, delivers a caricature instead of a portrayal of what should have been a hard-nosed businessman. Kher has hundreds of performances to his credit, some of them good. This isn’t one of them.

Acharya tries to pack in themes like sectarian violence and corrupt politicians amidst much sermonising, but the film falls flat on its face because there is too much going on. In the end, this is about a beautiful and intelligent entrepreneur whose reason for being is your right to get reliable upload and download quality. But Acharya’s writing feels stunted, and the narrative simplistic. Sonali Cable could have provided insight into what it takes to start and defend a business, and it nibbles at the no-doubt interesting drama of big media companies that swallow little ones, but in the end, it’s just a big 404.

(Follow Shilpa on Twitter at @shilpajay. This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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