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This nightmarish Indian sex-trafficking drama about a village girl sold into modern slavery is told with passion and urgency by Tabrez Noorani, a producer on Lion and Slumdog Millionaire making his directing debut. Love Sonia has the glossy production values of those movies, but Noorani is going for something harder-hitting here, inspired by the true story of an Indian girl found in a container ship in California. It is powerful filmmaking, but I found questionable the packaging of sexual violence with the uplifting notes of mainstream entertainment.
Mrunal Thakur gives a performance of quiet intensity as Sonia, a shy 17-year-old whose father sells her sister Preeti (Riya Sisodiya) to clear his debts. “I’ll get you a nice job in Mumbai,” coos the female trafficker to Preeti. Their dad goes along with the sham but his face betrays him: he knows the truth. Not long afterwards, Sonia naively follows her sister to Mumbai, where she is herself trafficked and taken to a filthy brothel, where she is handcuffed to a bed while the owner-pimp phones around to get the best price for his “fresh” village girl.
Sonia never stops looking for Preeti, even as she is smuggled across continents. In one of the clunkier scenes, set in LA, Mark Duplass plays a nice-guy beardy rich white dude, paying for sex and turning a blind eye to human trafficking. Demi Moore also makes an appearance.
Noorani impressively conveys the sense of living hell and you can’t criticise his intention to shout at the top of his voice that something is desperately wrong in India. But the framing device of Sonia’s epic search for her sister, and a fluffy love story, let down his authentic-styled drama. You may walk out of the cinema sad and angry for the real Sonias, but strangely enough unmoved by the character, in spite of Thakur’s first-class performance.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Love Sonia review – flawed but powerful sex-trafficking drama | Film