Director: Tabrez Noorani
Cast: Mrunal Thakur, Adil Hussain, Manoj Bajpayee, Richa Chadha, Freida Pinto
A broke and hungry farmer (Adil Hussain) sells off his teenage daughter Preeti (Riya Sisodia) to local loan shark Dada Thakur (Anupam Kher). Unable to bear the separation from Preeti, younger sister Sonia (Mrunal Thakur) goes to Dada Thakur’s house. She doesn’t think of the consequences. She is about to get the shock of her life.
She gets abducted and later trafficked. You know where! She is just another sad story drowned in the Arabian Sea on the beaches of the Maximum City. She ends up at a brothel where she meets hundreds of vulnerable women. They all are tiny parts in the money making machine attached to the flesh trade.
A life in prostitution awaits Sonia, but she is determined to track down her sister. She attempts a daring escape but her efforts lead to even more troubles.
There are two ways of going about director Tabrez Noorani’s Love Sonia. Either you’ll treat it as an incredible film with minor flaws, or an incredibly flawed film with strikingly appealing elements. Your perspective in life will decide which side you’re going to take.
It’s mix of stories. Sonia’s search for missing sister might be the central theme, but it has branches that lead us to the terrific life stories of Rashmi (Frieda Pinto) and Madhuri (Richa Chadha), who live in the same brothel.
In Love Sonia, what happens is shown rather than implied to you, which makes it a little distracting at times. Adil Hussain excels as a debt-ridden farmer Shivaji. His helplessness transcends boundaries and seeps into your psyche. What makes Adil’s extended cameo even stronger is his hard-hitting dialogues such as “Karne ko kya hai, ek din latak jaayene ped mein.” His few minutes convey more than rest of the film.
The importance of the subject matter has, without a doubt, attracted the several critically-acclaimed actors in the cast, but most of them are under-utilised. Except for Freida Pinto, none of the actors from the ensemble cast leaves any lasting impact. Freida slowly reveals the shades of her character and keeps the audience guessing. Just when you settle down, she brings out another emotion from her repertoire.
Anupam Kher’s could have done much better. An actor of his caliber should have been given more screen space.
Then comes the main man, a very creepy Babu (Manoj Bajpayee). With his toothy smile and twitched lips, he can make you uncomfortable at any given time. Though we have seen him doing this in Road, Kaun and Missing, somehow he manages to sustain the eerie vibes about his personality. A kingpin with a genial front, which makes him all the more frightening. His conversations with girls in brothel will send shivers down your spine, but these moments are rare. Richa Chadha’s awkward dialogue delivery would seem forced to some.
Despite a stellar star-cast, the one who stands out is Mrunal Thakur. A young woman sliding into a vicious trap without the extinction of hope. She’s wary but emotionally vulnerable throughout her ordeal. There are scenes when you really feel for her and want to guard her.
One hindrance that Love Sonia faces is that it fails to provide an in-depth insight to how this system operates in the real world outside its resemblance to seemingly endless other movies dealing with the same subject. You know which films we are talking about!
Although relentlessly disturbing, the film is more conceited than it is satisfying. You need a certain kind of appetite for such films.