#NewsBytesExclusive: 'Soni' star Saloni gets candid on movies and more
Ivan Ayr's Soni, which traces the story of two female officers in Delhi, rarely goes into overdrive to show what women empowerment is.
The movie, which is available on Netflix, relies on silence and hopes the viewers read between the lines.
Soni, which has been screened at every major film festival, is unsettling and its two major characters worth remembering.
We spoke to Saloni Batra, Soni's senior cop, about the movie, her career and so much more.
First off, let's tell you what the movie is about
Soni is a poignant tale of Kalpana (played by Saloni) and her subordinate Soni (essayed by Geetika Vidya Ohlyan).
As the two women navigate through the dark lanes of the national capital fighting crime, they face battles in their personal lives.
Sexism, male entitlement, and abuse, the women face it all.
But they don't leave each other even when the going gets tough.
The script convinced Saloni to sign 'Soni'
So when NewsBytes asked Saloni what made her sign the movie, she said the script. The team auditioned her for three days and on the fourth day, she got a confirmation call.
After reading the script, Saloni was bowled over. Coming from Delhi, the story touched her in many ways.
That the movie had two female protagonists was a cherry on the cake.
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How was it working with Ivan? Incredible, says Saloni
About her experience with director Ivan, Saloni said she surrendered to his vision.
She said, "Ivan as an individual and a director was so clear and so sensitive to the message he was trying to get across, that it made me completely give in to his vision."
A man isn't so sensitive towards women or their issues. And this made Ivan rare, Saloni added.
Real v/s Reel: Kalpana and Saloni are different
In Soni, Kalpana is an officer bound by rules. She always comes through for Soni and tells her why it's important to keep cool.
But in real life, Kalpana and Saloni are different, the actress told us.
"I have the inherent calmness to myself, which Kalpana has, but I am a person who is high on energy most of the times," she said.
I always listen to my heart: Saloni
"I believe in making the most of the moment and I always listen to my heart. I believe that men and women are absolute equals in every sphere of life- professionally, socially & every other way, and ought to be treated as equal," she revealed.
Bollywood should break free from 'caricatures' of women empowerment
Unlike many Bollywood movies, Soni doesn't reduce women empowerment to drinking, smoking and partying. Both Kalpana and Soni are empowered in their own might.
So, shouldn't Bollywood smash the set norms? Absolutely, said Saloni.
"It is high time and I am glad that our industry is swiftly moving in that direction. Characters are being written breaking stereotypes (sic)," she added.
Movies should focus on inner strength of women, feels Saloni
Saloni accepted that women still can't do many things in life.
"But while accepting this problem, cinematically we have taken the liberty to show women doing just those things like drinking, smoking, showing cleavage etc. as a form of empowerment," she said.
So now it is important to show a woman's inner strength and depict how she handles difficult situations, added Saloni.
The bond between two women is another highlight of 'Soni'
Soni embarks on another less-treaded path by showing friendship between two women.
While we have been conditioned to believe women can't be friends, Soni showed they can support each other.
About this, Saloni said, "Women don't pull one another down. Human beings pull one another down or support each other and make them rise. It's high time women are treated as human beings."
Saloni reveals the most difficult scene of 'Soni'
Soni is full of hard-hitting sequences. But the one which affected Saloni the most was the Lohri one.
Those who have watched Soni would know Kalpana's niece Nishu was bullied in school because of her periods. Kalpana advised Nishu to confront them.
Soon after their talk, Kalpana had a breakdown, which Saloni revealed was edited a little in the final cut.
She said the breakdown scene was extremely difficult.
Saloni isolated herself for the breakdown scene
"For that scene, I kept myself in isolation the whole day, did not speak to anyone at all except my acting mentor on board. I went through an emotional turmoil thinking about what all Kalpana must have been going through," Saloni revealed.
Saloni also shares her thoughts on #MeToo
We also asked her what does she think of the social media justice in the #MeToo era. Saloni opined the crucifixion on social media is derailing the movement.
"Jumping to conclusions about an individual without having absolute proof or without looking into the matter deeply, makes people make use of the movement to grab attention," she told us.
In this case, those who are guilty, and should face repercussions, get away.
Saloni is part of several exciting projects
Saloni has acted in both movies and web-series. When asked about her preference, she chose the former but noted the latter is growing immensely.
About her upcoming projects, Saloni said she shot for Ghost stories by Ruskin Bond for ZEE 5 which is directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury.
She also has a movie, in which she plays the protagonist, in the pipeline.
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