Inspired turns, but split down the middle
LOVE SONIA Direction: Tabrez Noorani Actors: Mrunal Thakur, Riya Sisodia, Rajkummar Rao, Manoj Bajpayee,
Richa Chaddha Rating:
Of the lakhs who are pushed into the flesh trade in India every year, less than 1% ever find their way out. Love Sonia is the story of one such girl, taken from a poverty-ridden village to Mumbai’s red-light district, then Hong Kong and Los Angeles.
As director Tabrez Noorani tells this all-too-familiar story, his intention is sincere and his style, unsubtle.
Preeti (Riya Sisodia) is sold to a local moneylender named Dada Thakur (Anupam Kher), by her impoverished father (Adil Hussain). Desperate to find her, Preeti’s sister Sonia (Mrunal Thakur, ) offers herself to the moneylender, and soon finds herself in a brothel in Mumbai.
The horrors are unrelenting as Bajpayee breaks her down; the film daring you, all the while, to look away. Sonia’s descent into narak, as she and the others call their world, is so brutal and horrific that no one moved in the interval. It’s a pity, then, that the filmmaker felt compelled to go for an almost-fairytale finish. Postinterval, Sonia’s journey to LA felt like a different movie altogether, and came across as a weak device for introducing cameos by Demi Moore and Mark Duplass. The unconvincing twist at the end was even more disappointing.
Love Sonia has several impressive cameos. Freida Pinto’s older prostitute who wants to bring Sonia down a notch, Rajkummar Rao’s compassionate social worker, Richa Chaddha’s sex worker with a heart of gold and Manoj Bajpayee’s pimp are all inspired turns. But the film still suffers, largely from lack of direction.
■ Love Sonia has several impressive cameos.