Director Tabrez Noorani’s film inspired by true events has the power to shake you from within with its brutal story telling aided by intelligent technical methods
270 girls go missing in India everyday- a line in the film reads. If this and the trailers weren’t enough to disturb you, the film in its entirety takes the matters one notch higher, making you uncomfortable in your seats. Love Sonia is not for the faint hearted- its real, its crude, its raw. While you know this happens for real in the society around you, what turns you upside down while watching this 120 mins film is that you can’t do anything about it. What you can do is ponder and be amazed.
Shiva (Adil Hussain) is a struggling farmer some 1400 km north to Mumbai. With heavily under debt and no rains to his relief, he is striving hard to make the ends meet. On other hand are his two teenage daughters Sonia (Mrunal Thakur) and Preeti (Riya Sisodiya) who along with having fun in their school life, also dream of a better future involving meeting Deepika Padukone and Salman Khan with their posters adorned on their walls. When the zamindar of the area Thakur Baldev (Anupam Kher) forces Shiva to pay off the loans, he sells his younger daughter Preeti off. It is now that Sonia takes charge to rescue her sister from the world of global flesh trade.
The story by Noorani himself inspired by real incidents has been penned with utmost sincerity and maturity that the subject needed. The film deals with showing you the complete process on how girls are tricked and forced into sex trade with the emotional story of two sisters running as the sub theme.
What is interesting and engaging is the heart wrenching screenplay by Ted Caplan and Alkesh Vaja that hooks you fully just 15 mins into the film. The film begins with the mention of a butterfly which the school kids play with. Few moments later you realize its not a simple butterfly that Noorani mentions but the entire context of the film told in fewer words. With absolutely no background dramatic sound in the scenes which matter the most, the film gets as cruel as it can, shaking you from within.
The plot takes you places- from a remote village to underbellies of central Mumbai, shoddy locations of red light area, filthy people involved in the business, to how girls are transported from one region to another, one country to another. Of course there is mention of good people too, and the makers have also given them complete justice in their portrayal. Noorani has given all possibilities and scenarios of what goes wrong when an innocent is caught in such scams, and to what extent is a person tormented- mentally and physically, of course bringing in relief in the shape of good Samaritans.
With an army of fantastic actors on board, the writers have justified their characters as much as possible. Even those with shorter screen time have made their presence felt by saying a lot for the plot. It is majorly because of these actors that the experience is heightened, who not only give the film a star appeal but also stay true to their characters not allowing you to get swayed by their star marks.
The only part where the film falters is the emotional connect in its overall appeal. While you are disgusted at what you see, there are moments where you don’t relate to the characters or feel their pain. Had the makers ensured this connect, the film would be remembered by everyone who saw it for a very long time. What happens here instead is that while you are disturbed most of the times, your heart doesn’t get heavy.
Of course the film isn’t only about showing you the journey. Its aimed at bringing out the positives. But again a heart breaking figure emerges in the last frame and you are dejected once again.
Debutante Mrunal Thakur, on whose strong shoulders a major portion of the film rests gives you a good time relishing the entire journey. She’s innocent, naive, bold at times, vulnerable at some, and determined in some segments, and she does it all with her strong body language and firm screen appeal. Although she is new to the audience, you like watching her on screen. She gives you the belief that she’s your protagonist and you do move with her.
Riya Sisodiya is charming too. Even in the very few frames she’s on screen, she attracts your attention with her superlative performance.
Richa Chaddha, Frieda Pinto, Sai Tamhankar must be applauded for shining in the limited space and time allotted for them. Their screen time is short, but the role is big and crucial to the plot and they have actually gotten into the skin of the characters. Its also their costumes and demeanor that does wonders for them. And the accent that these three ladies have mastered makes you fall for them.
Manoj Bajpayee as the owner of the brothel Faizal aka Babu is disgusting, literally. You hate him, and that’s a job well done.
Anupam Kher, Rajkummar Rao, Adil Hussain in their brief appearances tell you that they don’t need a full length film to show their genius. Even a couple of scenes are enough to make you go gaga over them.
Demi Moore in a special appearance is okay.
Music by Niels Bye Nielsen and A R Rahman is reasonably okay. What is noticeable is the brilliant sound design by Resul Pookutty. The silence in the frames haunts you and the dietetic sounds terrify and shock you.
Cinematography by Lucas Bielan is very good, for it captures well the essence of underbellies and the otherwise city of Mumbai in a rather distinct light. It keeps you rooted and with the documentary style of filming, never lets you go away from the plot.
Editing by Martin Singer is crisp for it thrills you in the wrenching moments. The shots are cut well and all attempts have been made to give you mental chills.
Production design by Scott Enge and Ravi Srivastava is visually right in place.
Tabrez Noorani’s venture is a strong addition to hard hitting cinema in Bollywood. However a more emotional connect would have ensured the longevity. But first, its sad that makers haven’t spent much on marketing. Fetching the audience to theaters will be a problem.