In­spired turns, but split down the mid­dle

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Gurugram - JY­OTI SHARMA BAWA

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.

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