Nagesh Kukunoor's latest feature film Lakshmi offers an insight into the life of an teenage girl who is a victim of human trafficking.
Made within a low budget, this movie impresses you with its in-your- face realism and execution.
The story of the titular character-played by Monali Thakur, begins with her being sold off to a pimp who goes by the name of Chinna(played by the maverick director himself),who in turn packs her away to a brothel run by a 'kind-hearted' madam (Shefali Shah).
Trapped in the brothel she awaits her daily torture and as time goes by, learns to survive this trauma with the help of a prostitute named Swarna (Flora Saini). Some disturbing scenes are sure to make you clench your fists or shift uncomfortably in your seat as you see the poor girl go through some very suggestive and graphic exploitation by her 'customers'.
Monali brings alive a very innocent and vulnerable Lakshmi on screen and she is ably supported by the rest of the cast. The film is convincing in its realism but it isn't completely flawless. The climax seems to be very rushed and predictable as the director seems to have laid more emphasis on the buildup and the inner turmoil of Lakshmi. The music is average and the cinematography doesn't impress either but Lakshmi's magic lies in its brutal reality displayed with elan on screen by Kukunoor. The film shines through because of the very excellent acting exhibited by its experienced cast.
It isn't unusual for such films to be given the cold shoulder by the cinemas and you may have to struggle to find a show convenient to you, but do go for Lakshmi, and go with guts, for they are much needed to watch this tale of torture and triumph. The script and direction seems lacking but the cast certainly deserves Claps for their sincere effort that is the highlight of this film.