Most Bollywood movies serve one purpose: Entertainment. There are only a handful of them that convey a social message or touch an unconventional subject. I agree with the argument that you can't always watch a movie that brings you home in despair, but there are times when truth needs to be said. And it is brutally relayed to movie-goers in Love Sonia.
Directed by Tabrez Noorani who has also directed Eat, Pray, Love and co-produced Slumdog Millionaire, the movie had its world premiere at the London Indian Film Festival on 21 June 2018 and it's releasing in India tomorrow. I went to the theatre expecting a reality-check, but the ruthlessness and rawness of the movie made me shudder.
Now I understand why everyone was scared that it won't be cleared by the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC). Love Sonia has many disturbing sexual scenes and nudity, and it shows prostitution and human trafficking in the country in a way that will make you cringe. The CBFC members discuss the movie in a round of meetings and finally gave it a green signal. In fact, the board members were genuinely touched by the film. And so was everyone else.
TV actress Mrunal Thakur debuts as Sonia in the movie and her power-packed performance leaves you in awe of her as an actress. She plays the daughter of a poor farmer, played by actor Adil Hussain, who has no yield to produce. In a heartbreaking scene, he sells his elder daughter Preeti (Riya Sisodiya) to a local landlord and moneylender (Anupam Kher). The underaged girl gets into the grip of a Mumbai pimp, Faizal (Manoj Bajpayee), and we see a lost childhood on frame.
This is where the story begins, where Sonia, in search of her sister, also gets entrapped into the vicious global sex trade and child trafficking. Mrunal really come out of her comfort zone (she played a happy-go-lucky daughter Bulbul in Kumkum Bhagya) and pulled off all the emotions of a terrified girl stuck in her worst nightmare. When you see her in this bottomless pit of hopelessness, you want to rescue her and bring her back home. Unfortunately, this is the fate of millions of girls in India and that realisation shatters your heart to bits.
Mrunal is supported by a strong cast. With Anupam Kher (who plays the landlord Baldev Singh), Richa Chadha (as Madhuri, the madam at the brothel), Freida Pinto (as Rashmi, the queen of the brothel), Rajkummar Rao (a social worker), Demi Moore (an NGO worker) and Manoj Bajpayee (the cold-hearted pimp).
The movie depicted the significant role that NGOs play to track down the underaged girls being held against their will in the brothels of Mumbai. That's where Rajkummar Rao comes into the picture, who plays the role of social worker.
I was disappointed with Frieda Pinto’s role. She was on screen only for a few scenes as a sex worker who shows Sonia around when she’s new to the brothel and calls her ‘her sister’. Although Frieda really got into her character and performed well, I wished I could see more of her in the film.
After watching this movie, people may understand the reality of millions of girls in India. It is estimated 270 girls and women go missing every day in India; many get sold to pimps and they never find their way back home. The movie is blunt in this truth-telling: there are no frills to this tale. It's honest, it's brutal and you will get out of the theatre thinking that may be we're failing the women in our country miserable.
Image Credit: Instagram, IMDB
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