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Love Sonia

Love Sonia Movie Review 2018: But Why, Sonia?

CRITIC'S RATING    2.0/5
AVG READERS' RATING:    3.0/5
Movie Name
Love Sonia
DIRECTION
Tabrez Noorani
GENRE
Drama
DURATION
02 hours 00 minutes

Love Sonia Review

If writer-director Tabreez Noorani's brief to himself was to showcase the poverty porn of India for a western audience that feeds off it, that isn't a problem. But after gathering an impressive ensemble cast and putting Oscar-winning names like AR Rahman (composer) and Resul Pookutty(editor) in the credits, Tabrez should've at least put in place a coherent screenplay.

Dredging the worst of India, he starts off with a farmer (Adil Hussain, distraught as per the script) crumbling under his debts to the local Thakur (Anupam Kher, lecherous as required). The farmer distress leads to the father selling off Preeti (played woodenly by Riya Sisodiya), his prettier daughter (read that as fairer). The Thakur despatches Preetito the bad old cages of Mumbai while darker daughter Sonia (Mrunal Thakur, very effective) watches in protest, then goes to the Thakur and offers herself. All in the quest of her sister.


I read somewhere that this was like Liam Neeson'sTaken where a father went in search of his daughter but here it's the sister. It's an appalling comparison to make. Because Taken had action and a narrative that moved while Tabrez strings together sordid sequences as a screenplay.

Some of the verbal abuse and stark nudity may not have got past the censors but there's enough to graphically show what goes on in the red light district. There's even a little boy who describes it knowingly to Sonia.

There's Rashmi the whore who teases Sonia and is mean to her which is played spiritedly by Freida Pinto. An older madam who's seen it all, suffered it all and now passes it on to the younger girls, is dying of disease. That's Richa Chadha, very saucy as Madhuri, who gets to tell her own sordid back story of how she landed in Faisal's cage. Faisal is reliably efficient Manoj Bajpayee, the brothel-owner who's nice and comforting one moment and murderous the next. Coming in and out is a customer which is Rajkummar Rao in a cameo.

Sonia is crudely examined to ensure she's been untouched. The term used is ‘seal thodna'. Sonia's ‘seal' is kept unbroken because that fetches a better price, so customers are allowed only ‘back entry' to her. Pants down and front too, as long as they don't you-know-what. And then she's packed off along with other girls in filthy containers to markets in Hong Kong and Los Angeles. How an ageing, diseased Madam is part of the consignment of young virgins will stay a question mark.

I'll grant it to Tabrez that he intends it to be a stark and disturbing reality, not titillating. But he's unable to get complete empathy with too many disturbing lapses in logic. The farmer looking desperately for Sonia doesn't touch you because he was the one who sold his other daughter without once looking back.

The closeness of the siblings also doesn't ring true with Sonia perennially treating Preeti as someone entitled and special for no reason. Preeti doesn't even reciprocate the warmth in same measure at any stage. And she has the same entitled coldness when Sonia does manage to meet her.

When a social worker comes to her rescue, Sonia incomprehensibly hides and prefers to stay back in the hell-hole. If it was to somehow get her sister back, the plot doesn't show her doing anything in that direction. In fact, she could perhaps have achieved it with the social worker's help instead of staying on in the business. Therefore, there's a disconnect when she goes through endless abuse.


Analysis

    Direction
    2.5/5
  • Dialogues
    2.5/5
  • Story
    2/5
  • Music
    2.5/5
  • Screen Play
    1.5/5

The Verdict

Yes, trafficking is serious and dirty business, the figures are alarming. But filmmakers like Nagesh Kukunoor have already said most of it in earlier films like Lakshmi.

For a film that picks a worthy cause to espousebut doesn’t have a convincing narrative tospotlight it,Love Sonia gets a 2* rating.


 

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