As a producer, Manish Mundra has lent his support to films like ‘Ankhon Dekhi’, ‘Masaan’, Newton’, ‘Kadvi Hawa’, ‘Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi’ and others. His choices as a producer clearly reflect the fact that he is not somebody who is interested in the kind of cinema that is, in popular parlance, referred to as commercial or mainstream. ‘Siya’, his directorial debut, addresses the grave issue of rape. Like the film he has produced in the past, ‘Siya’, too, is set in a realistic space. The film, which has been released theatrically, features Pooja Pandey and Vineet Kumar Singh in principal roles.
Sita Singh/Siya (Pooja Pandey) lives in a small village in Uttar Pradesh called Bichaura. Siya shares the small house with her parents, grandmother and younger brother. Though Siya has had limited education, she has big dreams in her eyes and wishes to go to Delhi to find some suitable occupation for herself. Her wish to go to Delhi almost becomes a necessity when she is harassed by a bunch of young men in her village. Since her parents are not okay with her idea to move to Delhi, she requests her family friend Mahender (Vineet Kumar Singh) to help her. Though Mahender works in Delhi, he doesn’t entertain Siya’s request and disregards it as a whimsical thought. One day, Siya makes up her mind to go to Delhi. However, before she reaches the bus stop, she is abducted.
The biggest strength of the film is that everything is portrayed in a realistic manner. In the past, one has come across films being made on rape survivors but very few of them have been as effective as ‘Siya’. The depiction of a village is very authentic and that greatly helps. Despite stringent laws being in place, sexual harassment continues to be a reality of our society. While such incidents are quite common in cities as well, crimes committed in smaller towns and villages largely go unreported. The film’s focus in on making the viewer aware of the difficulties faced by a survivor and her family as they go around fighting for justice. The flaws in the system make things very difficult for them.
The film is not without its share of flaws. While the film doesn’t take an escapist route, certain creative liberties have been taken. Vineet Kumar Singh’s entry sequence looks very filmy and is out of sync with the overall tenor of the film. Some of the sequences in the second half, too, do not make a lot of sense. The climax is hard-hitting and complements the messaging of the film.
Manish Mundra makes a confident debut as a director. With this film, he proves that he has a good understanding of visual construction. Along with co-writers Haider Rizvi and Samah, he has put together a hard-hitting screenplay that implores you to think. Though certain conveniences are there in the script, overall it leaves a solid impact. The climax conveys the message that there are no easy answers and to ensure that such incidents stop happening in our society, we must introspect and figure out where exactly we are going wrong.
‘Siya’ is an important film that needs to be watched and discussed. While governments of different countries have been working diligently towards curbing sexual harassment and other related crimes, one keeps seeing a rise in such cases. Films like these definitely play a role in increase awareness around such incidents.