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Sonata  : A Composition With Forced Accents
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Friday, April 21, 2017
Drama
Aparna Sen
Shabana Azmi, Aparna Sen, Lillette Dubey

When a play is turned into cinema, perhaps the claustrophobic one-set atmosphere should give way to a few gulps of fresh air. Especially if two people are going to be talking non-stop with two or three faces popping in to use the set like a transit lounge. In fact ‘transit lounge’ is just what journo Shubadra says when she breezes in to bring in the expected bashed up woman-in-love character. “But you won’t understand,” she tells her spinster friend. “It’s a man-woman thing.” And she returns to her alcoholic boyfriend, just for kicks, I suppose. 

 

You return to the two main characters in the room. Dr Aruna Chaturvedi and Dolan Sen who share a roof, pack everything they have to say to each other in one evening, making a rather sad comment on single women even as Aparna valiantly tries to establish that they’re fine without a man in their lives. Even their maid makes a dig at their barren lives. But there’s excitement when Meera Rao, a college mate who’s introduced over Skype, has a firang boyfriend she promises to bring over for dinner. Yeah, she’s got herself a man.And she’s got her own past that’s narrated by Aruna and Dolan.

 

A four-women story, there are two turning points towards the end that unfortunately don’t really come as a surprise. One is between Aruna and Dolan as the room turns into a confession box and of course it involves a man. The other is the finale which is also expected given the date and the venue that’s carefully placed in the initial scenes.

 

But the biggest disappointment comes from the UP accent that Aparna forces on herself as Chaturvedi and on Meera Rao who speaks English like a mimicry artist doing a take-off on South Indians. From the director of Mr And Mrs Iyer who got Konkona Sen to change her accent so professionally and beautifully, it is a huge letdown that this very departmentstands out and jars.

 

For me, only Shabana Azmi’s performance worked, as she let her weight show and her makeup go awry as the evening wore on and the wine bottle was emptied.

 

This is ultimately niche cinema that will have its slim percentage of multiplex viewers.

 

For a film that’s like a slow-moving theatre play on celluloid, Sonata gets a 2.5* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author

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