Every so often a film comes along that feels like essential viewing. One whose message and story should be communicated to as many people as possible in order to truly understand the harrowing situations that need to be fought against. ‘Love Sonia’ is one of these movies.
It’s the directorial debut of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘Lion’ producer Tabrez Noorani and it takes inspiration from the true story of an Indian girl who was trafficked into the sex trade. Sonia (Mrunal Thakur) is a 17-year-old from a rural Indian village who is forced on a journey to rescue her sister Preeti (Riya Sisodiya). Horrifyingly, their father has sold her to pay off his mounting debts. Soon, Sonia finds herself trapped as a sex slave in a brothel in Mumbai’s red-light district with no one to support her except for prostitutes Madhuri (Richa Chadha) and Rashmi (Freida Pinto).
It’s a grim scenario that’s depicted unrelentingly by Noorani. As a portrayal of women suffering in extremis, it strives for gritty authenticity and is forensic in questioning how such a criminal enterprise could exist. You might catch yourself turning away at times, but it’s a testament to the central performances – a heart-wrenching debut from Thakur and a career-best turn for Pinto – that you’ll want to stick with them. This is socially conscious cinema at its most powerful and important. It might be tough to witness, but it’s vital that we do.