Sonali Cable is named after its wispy yet tough owner, a young working-class woman from the Worli fishing village in southern Mumbai. Sonali (Rhea Chakraborty) provides the kind of personalised customer service that a large company can only dream of. She is self-made, hard-working and honest, and therefore, in this movie’s simplistic schemata, ripe for destruction.
Sonali’s humble existence perks up with the return of her childhood crush, Raghu (Ali Fazal), who is the son of Meena Pawar (Smita Jaykar), a local politician with ambitions greater than the fishing hamlet. It’s only a matter of time before Pawar teams up with Anupam Kher’s evil businessman, who is buying out the competition to ensure that his Shining boards are as pervasive as the Mumbai smog.
Sonali Cable is an urban fairy tale from start to finish – apart from the princess, her prince, his evil mother and their nemesis, it even has a floozy who distinguishes herself through skimpy clothing (the film’s stereotyping of good and bad women is unthinking and unnecessary). Sonali’s ant-versus-elephant strategy is easily anticipated, heart-warming and therefore non-replicable.
The 120-minute movie has an identifiable local vibe and engaging characters, such as Fazal’s conflicted rich kid and Sonali’s father (Swanand Kirkire), a former party grunt who regrets his violent past. Acharya convincingly makes an argument in favour of local-level entrepreneurship, even though he glosses over the complexity of an issue that rears its head all too frequently – the anguish expressed by traditional stores over the march of e-commerce retailers being only the latest instance. Is Mumbai, and the rest of India, so neatly divided into little people and big industrialists? Can a gargantuan company such as the Reliance-like Shining really be shown its place?
It could, perhaps, but not in ways that directly translate into happy-ending cinema.
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