Lakshmi, Hindi Bollywood Film Movie review, Johnson Thomas, Rating: * *
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Hindi Film Review
Film: Lakshmi : True story told with a disconnect that is brutal
Cast: Monali Thakur, Shefali Shah, Nagesh Kukunoor, Satish Kaushik, Ram Kapoor, Flora Saini
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
Rating: * *
We’ve seen many films made on the plight of prostitutes in India- from Amar Prem, Charitraheen, Bhavna, Mausam, Salaam Mumbai, Rajjo, Chameli, Mandi, Giddh etc. Some like ‘Amar Prem, Rajjo, Chameli’ were given the traditional bollywood fantasy treatment while others like ‘Bhavna, Mausam, Salaam Bombay and Mandi’ were far more forthcoming about the real issues that plagued these women who existed in the fringes of society. Nagesh Kukunoor’s film is based on a true story and focuses on child trafficking as a denouement. Lashmi(Monali Thakur) , a fourteen year old , is the central character. She has been sold by her alcoholic father to a local Lady MLA who has business connections with a Pimp, Chinna(Nagesh Kukunoor himself) and his brother Reddy anna(Satish Kaushik). The two brothers apparently run a girls hostel for runaway women which in real fact is a euphemism for a brothel, where these girls/women are sold to the sexually depraved for a price. Shefali Shah plays the madam while Flora Saini, is the prostitute who appears to have embraced her fate with all the skills and tricks at her disposal. The film is about sexploitation and hit’s you hard on the head with brutal sexual assaults designed to be cringe-inducing. But that’s all the connect you feel with what transpires on screen.
Kukunoor’s treatment is a little too flat and un-enlivening. In fact the script lacks distinctive dramatic moments because Kukunoor and team appear unable to come to terms with the conflict arising out of maintaining gritty integrity while fashioning a cinematic assay that can connect with the audience. In fact the manner in which this story plays out, you just don’t feel very affected other than those fleeting moments of extreme brutality. Lakshmi’s plight is similar to many we’ve seen in cinema before so there is no novelty factor either. The fact that she is below the age of consent and therefore her exploitation is doubly damming, also doesn’t come across effectively. The role of the NGO and that of the courts is also not depicted with enough clarity or power. The entire experience comes close to enervating. But for the fairly evocative performances, docu-style cinematography and dialogues that paint vivid pictures of indecency and abuse, this would have been a lost cause altogether!