Statutory Warning: Nakesh Kukunoor‘s Lakshmi based on real-life incidents, is a thought-provoking yet disturbing movie. This movie is not for anyone who is heading to the theatres for fun and entertainment this weekend.
Like his previous movies, Lakshmi is also about struggle, hope and triumph against invincible adversities. This time, Kukunoor chronicles the harrowing and sensitive story of child trafficking. Teenage girls – pretty, naive and virgin are the perfect sale-pitch for men of all shapes and sizes.
This is the story of Lakshmi’s struggle, suffering and triumph at last. Her ordeal starts too early. Sold off by her own father, Lakshmi (Monali Thakur), a 14 -year-old is forced into the dark world of sex-trafficking and prostitution by the Reddy brothers. Chinna (Nagesh Kukunoor) and Reddy Garu (Satish Kaushik) run a brothel under the disguise of a hostel. Taken care by Jyoti (Shefali Shah), Lakshmi soon ends up there after being raped by Reddy Garu. A brothel is no place for an innocent teenage girl. After being trapped in sex slavery, Lakshmi tries to escape twice. But her efforts were in vain. She is tortured and forced to sleep with several men. At last, there is freedom. With the help of a NGO and advocate Avinash (Ram Kapoor) she fights for her rights and take her oppressors through law, exposing their disgraceful crimes.
Several movies have been made on the subject of prostitution and child trafficking. But Kukunoor’s effort is unique and special as it brings to light the gruesome truth from the perspective of a 14-year-old. The narrative is raw, rutheless and realistic. Even with the training in the art of sharing her body with several men every night, Lakshmi is determined to break free from the horrendous world of sex slavery.
You will be on the edge of you seat during the first half of the movie. The subject matter will leave you unsettled and disturbed. But unfortunately, the film fizzles out in the second half. Irrespective of that fact you will adhere to the movie owing to a powerful storyline. The brutality of sex trafficking and audacious heroism forms the crux of the movie.
Monali Thakur with her naive and childlike beauty did a brilliant job as Lakshmi. Her innocent face gains immediate sympathy. One easily empathazise with Lakshmi’s pain and suffering.
Shefali Shah as the brothel madam is simply terrific. Her transition from a caring mother figure to a filty sex-worker cannot be put into words. Similarly Flora Saini as Swarna, leaves you surprised. She is the caring roommate who protects Lakshmi yet teaches her the art of seducing men. Nagesh Kukunoor as the loathsome pimp, Chinna, showed his flair in acting without pushing his character too far. The rest of the supporting cast including Satish Kaushik, Ram Kapoor, Gulfam Khan and Vibha Chibber were cherry picked for their respective roles in the movie.
The dark and murky world of sex trafficking was never so real and was brilliantly captured by cinematographer Christian Das. One could feel and smell the stench of stale sweat, liquior, cigarette smoke and semen in the stiffling world of sex slavery and prostitution. Enhancing the experience was the background music – a folk song about caring the girl child with care and love. It subtly mocked the pain suffered by Lakshmi as she washed of the sticky blood of lust and greed from her wounded genitals.
Nagesh Kukunoor, cast and crew of Lakshmi definitely deserves a standing ovation for offering a movie that is despicable yet courageous.
Why should you watch this film?
To sum it up, Lakshmi is a courageous, thought-provoking and heroic movie. It’s not a mere story but a true-life incident that needs to be made known to eradicate the evil of child abuse and immoral trafficking. Lakshmi is a movie that is the need of the hour.