Tabrez Noorani directorial 'Love Sonia' is inspired from a real life story of a teenaged girl's struggle to reach her sister who is stuck in the dark hidden world of human trafficking. The story resonates from a rural village focusing the family of Shiva played by Adil Hussain a poor farmer in debt absolutely selfless cursing his barren land. It is his daughters Preeti aka Riya Sisodiya and Sonia played by Mrunal Thakur two innocent teenage school going girls placed with a connecting chemistry. Followed is the entry of a ruthless antagonist Baldev Pratap Singh played by Anupam Kher mostly called as 'Thakur ji' as the narrative proceeds. He reminds Shiva of his unpaid debts and the cruelty is showcased with the actors finese act. We would actually start hating Kher after this performance and it turns out to be a compliment though. With a heart of stone the helpless father sells his daughter Preeti to Thakur ji clearing off his debts infact getting some excess of money while these sequences literally shook us with a hard hitting truth that might have happened with many. That's just a begining to talk about. While the rest of the film is majorly shot at surreal Brothel from Mumbai. An outter montage of Grant Road's redlight area as well as Kamathipura is captured silently.
Sai Tamhankar as Anjali is like an agent who supplies innocent teens from rural spaces to a brothel in the heart of Mumbai which is run by Faizal played by Manoj Bajpaaye. A cruel merciless man who presents himself as a godfather and helper of this prostitute center. Manoj excels in a negative role once again yet his motive is unclear and we do not understand this character as it lacks a backstory. Richa Chadda as Madhuri plays a grey character as she is quite negative in the beginning but changes her view as she is hit by a serious disease. Frieda Pinto as Rashmi steals the show with her act. Though she didn't had much of the screen space but she left an impact with a complete different character that she stepped in. She is one of the prostitutes from the brothel who lights up the narrative by being a positive character in this diminishing dark film, giving us a ray of hope. When we say light the powerhouse in this narrative is Rajkummar Rao, a NGO worker who works to take out these innocent minor girls out of this pit. Rao could have had more of the screenspace but director Tabrez Noorani decided to limit the positive characters, he rather hits us hard with the ugly reality of this living world.
Performances wise Rao and Frieda's characters will stay with you. Negative role is outplayed by Bajpayee but Kher and Chadda couldn't deliver an impactfull performance though.
From foul language to a hinted oral sex scene on screen Noorani tried to depress the audiences with the cruelty of the world and yes its not an Anurag Kashyap film for sure. A part of the film is shot in Hong Kong and the director tours us to the international human trafficking market. Trying to leave us with conviction, he makes us meet a few more positive characters. One of them is Selma played by Demi Moore an NGO activist and Mark Duplass a generous client of the sex worker. The official stats of the ugly truth from UNICEF and HT gives us a reality check by the end.
Screenplay by Noorani is more on the darker side and diaogues aren't impactful as we get a glimpse of the raw slum language full of vulgarity and repetitive beeps. Ritesh Shah couldn't pen some meaningful dialogues that could be connecting rather he makes it one of his ordinary work. Cinematography by Lucas Bielan is captivating and sheer class. These Brothels and some emotional hard hitting scenes are captured generously. Background score by Niels Bye Nielsen has played a compelling part and suits the narrative of the film.
Overall, Love Sonia is not just a film but a hard hitting reality that will shook us up with tears.