INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF INDIA 2022 REVIEW! A rape victim, suffering through the pain and agony of the aftermath, takes it upon herself to seek justice against her wrongdoers in director Manish Mundra’s feature film, Siya. Stories and accounts of rape and sexual assault against women are not unheard of in India. The subject has been taken up in several movies and television productions over the years. But it’s been a while since a film has indeed dug into the trauma victims endure in their long battle for justice.
A court procedural narrative follows after the victim becomes adamant about seeing her rapists behind bars. Screenwriters Mundra, Haider Rizvi, Samah, and Rashmi Somvanshi powerfully depict how surviving the heinous crime is probably just the beginning of a prolonged ordeal. As such, Siya is a surprising and poignant noir drama that readily engulfs you in its narrative.
“A rape victim, suffering through the pain and agony of the aftermath, takes it upon herself to seek justice…”
In the rural village in Uttar Pradesh, young Siya (Pooja Pandey) is an ambitious teenager who wishes for a well-settled job and a decent future for herself. As soon as she comes on-screen, the audience is made to settle in her uncomfortable surroundings. There is always a feeling of worry and fright as Siya travels through the village roads. The location serves well to induce these feelings as the camera captures the wilderness of empty rural roads and unoccupied barren lands, setting the audience into this wild, ghastly arena that wreaks horror.
Inevitably, one day, Siya never returns home, causing her family to worry. This is where Siya takes a surprising turn and proves to be more than just a social commentary on crime against women. In his feature film debut, Manish Mundra creates a suspenseful thriller that takes its time to unravel and glues your attention to the screen for the entire run time.
It begins with Mahendra (Vineet Kumar Singh), a small advocate from Delhi, taking Siya’s case into his hands. From hereon, Haider Rizvi’s clever and discreet screenplay starts picking up on themes of systematic corruption in law enforcement, abuse of political powers, casteism, gender bias, and faulty judiciary. Mahendra finds every door closed as he seeks help from authorities, leading him to seek public support via social media. Mahendra and Siya seem close to their goal as the media enters the equation. But are there any viable means to fight the influence of powerful corruption?