‘Love Sonia’ review: Noorani’s debut hits home as he portrays a believable world

Director: Tabrez Noorani

Cast: Mrunal Thakur, Riya Sisodia, Richa Chadha, Manoj Bajpayee, Freida Pinto, Adil Hussain

Rating: *** 1/2

Love Sonia, Tabrez Noorani’s debut directorial, is a close unfiltered look at sex trafficking that happens in India. In a country which largely still looks at girls as a commodity, Noorani introduces us to a world where a parent thinks it is okay to sell one of his girls when struck with extreme poverty. A farmer (Adil Hussain) is on the brink of hopelessness and is even contemplating suicide, as his land stays barren and his debt keeps mounting. He shares a love hate relationship with his two daughters, Sonia (Mrunal Thakur) and Preeti (Riya Sisodia), as he resents their presence when he expected a son. When the father decides to sell the prettier of the two, Preeti to his money lender, Sonia, the more spirited one puts up a protest and escapes from home to get her sister back.

In the process, Sonia also gets entrapped in the murky world of prostitution in a red light area in Mumbai. The brothel is owned by shrewd and manipulative Faisal (Manoj Bajpayee). The other seasoned women in the brothel, Madhuri (Richa Chadha) and Rashmi (Freida Pinto) only make things tougher for her. Sonia’s journey gets murkier and more and more humiliating, but she refuses to give up hope, even in the bleakest of circumstances. Even as Noorani sketches a dark, seeming hopeless circumstance for Sonia and Preeti, he never lets his heroine lose hope or her fighting spirit. Noorani’s Sonia is a true heroine, who doesn’t buckle down to circumstances and finally manages to get out of the trap laid for her.

We have seen many films on sex trafficking in the past, but this one hits home as Noorani portrays a believable world as he takes on a matter-of-fact approach, only once in a while veering towards the melodrama zone. Noorani weaves in the nexus between those dealing in flesh trade and police and other such harsh truths during the narration.

Mrinal Thakur is fantastic as she plays the title role with the required sensitivity and sensibility. Even though the storyline takes through some seemingly exaggerated situations, she stays true to her character and delivers a strong performance. Riya Sisodia, who plays Sonia’s sister, gives good support. Manoj Bajpayee stands out with his performance of a sleazy, ruthless brothel owner. Richa Chadha, who plays a seasoned sex worker turned well-wisher, gives a decent performance but tends to go overboard once in a while. Freida Pinto, who plays a bitter woman stuck in her past, hams her way through her small but supposedly significant role. Raj Kumar Rao’s role is surprisingly small, and someone of his calibre deserved better.

This movie deserves at least one watch as Noorani is talking about a pertinent topic and dares to delve into a world which is drastically different to ours.

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