Sunday, February 28, 2016
Street Soldiers is stark and disturbing. It’s a story of immigrant dreams built on fragile foundations getting caved under by misfortune. It’s the story of Sunny, a young lad who goes astray when fate punctures his cocooned world.
After his policeman father is killed in a random act of violence, Sunny, his mother and his brother are forced to move in with their grandmother, and Sunny has to change his school. In the school, he is bullied relentlessly, and in trying to escape his tormentors, he accepts help and support from a gang of drug peddlers.
This starts a chain of events leading to his mother throwing him out of their grandmother’s home, and Sunny getting increasingly involved with the drug business. On the way to the denouement, he falls in love with and marries the gang leader’s sister.
Soon, his world collapses when internecine gang warfare erupts, and his comrades are shot dead. In trying to save his friend’s life, Sunny unwittingly kills the big don’s son. This leads to inevitable violence as the story moves towards a macabre conclusion with everyone except Sunny dying in a shootout.
The directors Jay and Lily Ahluwalia have a commendable eye for detail, and are able to capture the closeted, claustrophobic world of drugs and guns. The quiet desperation with which every member of the gang lives his life is clinically and unglamorously portrayed.
There are no redeeming features in this life of the young gangsters that is largely lived in cars, garages and warehouses. The young foot soldiers who work for the don know that they are mere pawns and have no future, and would rather snort cocaine than do anything else.
For a first time effort, Street Soldiers is good. Sid Sawant who plays Sunny is easily the most impressive of the cast. To an author-backed role, Sawant brings vulnerability, uncertainty, and tenuousness. The young actor underplays his role and is at ease and controlled in depicting the quick spiral of destruction that the character’s life becomes. Nish Raisi as Jassi, and Lionel Boodlal as Ronnie, are also competent.
The women in the film – Priya (Sachel Metoo), Neha (Shruti Shah), grandmother (Jasmine Sawant) – don’t have a major part to show their talent; Shruti Shah effectively modulates her voice while conveying the desolation of a woman who has lost everything.
The cinematography is stark and brutal, and eschews depicting Toronto through a touristy prism. The stark suburbia that forms the urban sprawl of Greater Toronto Area is hammered with an unblinking monotony. The music score is contemporary, and often pulsating; the editing, however, is occasionally patchy.
Directors: Lily Ahluwalia and Jay Walia
Writer: Jay Walia
Cast: Sid Sawant, Nish Raisi, Lionel Boodlal, Steve Kasan, Afroz Khan, Sechal Metoo, Shruti Shah, Jasmine Sawant
Executive Producer: Surindar Ahluwalia
Producer: Jay Walia, Ron Walia
Original Music: Andre Mina, Emad Mina, San Thurai, Manjeet Uppal
Cinematography: Chris Berry
Editing: Jay Walia
Sound Department: Agah Bahari
About Time Productions