A movie like Love Sonia needs to be made with utmost care and be detail oriented in every sense. Tabrez Noorani, the debutant director, has left no such invalid spot in the entire film for us to judge on or to leave behind any important aspect of the sex trafficking situation in India.
This movie focuses on the lives of two young girls-sisters, who live in the state of Maharashtra and work on the farm with their father. The fairer one of the two, and the somewhat rebellious, Preeti (Riya Sisodia), is sold off to a local landlord and moneylender (Anupam Kher), while the other one, more obedient and stronger, somehow ridiculed for her coloured-skin, Sonia (Mrunal Thakur) is held back to help her father on the fields.
The sisters have an undying bond that does not allow them to stay separated for a long time and hence Sonia decides to run away in the search of Preeti to Mumbai. Anjali, the middlewoman for the business, presents Sonia to the owner of one such location, Faizal (Manoj Bajpayee) and to Madhuri (Richa Chadha), who then begin the processes and teachings of taking Sonia into their fold, all the while falsely promising to help find Preeti. During this entire journey, Sonia encounters a number of people on her way. She meets Manish (Rajkumar Rao) who tries to save her from this mess but she fails to oblige out of mere fear. Along the way she gets shipped to places like Hong Kong and Los Angeles – to be objectified for the sexual being that they consider a woman as. She gets entangled into the dark world of sex trafficking and the business, while trying to save her sister out of it.
Love Sonia has no happy resolution as such because the situation with human trafficking is outrageous and that leaves a beautiful touch to the movie, that even though there are stories of brave girls like Sonia and Madhuri in this world, they rarely see the light of day. Hopefully, themed films like this help us towards a better and a safer future for the women all over.
This movie stands out from the rest as it is not necessarily a documentary but then again it does not meet all the aspects of a feature film. It is a lovely rendition of the reality we live in. Some characteristics of the movie I personally liked are:
- Creation: Tabrez Noorani, the debutant who’s done a phenomenal job, was inspired to make Love Sonia after he was introduced to Human Trafficking in Los Angeles in 2003, when some girls were found in a shipping container from China. One of them was a young Indian girl. The incident inspired Noorani to work with non-governmental organizations focused on trafficking in Los Angeles. He has also participated in several brothel raids. This explains the authenticity that he brings to the screen with this one.
- Casting: The cast includes Mrunal Thakur, Freida Pinto, Richa Chadda, Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkumar Rao, Riya Sisodiya, Adil Hussain and Demi Moore. This casting was executed perfectly. Mrunal was in fact chosen after years long search through 1500 other young girls for the role. The characters played are so raw – as if the we are watching the actors in their own skin living an alternate life, does fair justice to an art project like this. It constantly feels like you’re viewing reality, just through a lens.
- Cinematography: Lukas Bielan, the cinematographer and a definite hats off to the man. There are dream sequences in the film that stand out as they absolutely make no sense without context, but when perfectly sequenced, you feel every emotion that Sonia does and it’s wonderful to watch. The transition from darkness to brightness nearing the end of the movie is a smooth one and it makes you realise that if not today, there will be a happy ending some day for the millions of these girls.
- Impact: What follows after the movie is something to wait and watch for, but the way this film is done, with no censorship whatsoever tells you that it has been accepted to spread awareness with the hope of things changing for the better some day. It is a movie that provokes the humanity inside you and asks you to get up and speak about it. For the viewer, you are left with no choice but to recommend it to others who have not watched it already.
Love Sonia has been a great journey of ups and downs, but great nonetheless. For a woman to go through so much and yet stand out of it, unwavering from her own goals is mind blowing to watch. I must admit, I broke down in the middle of the film, and maybe when you go watch it you should be prepared.
It is a beautiful film and as much as I hoped it would perfectly fall into either under a documentary or a feature, so I could write about it accordingly, it still makes me want to stand up and ask people to flock into the theatres and support this cause.
I would rate it a wholesome 3.5/5 stars and I would love for more films to be made on this exact theme. It needs more voice and it needs louder voices to be heard.
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