Not the average entertainer

LAKSHMI

Hindi (A)**

Director:  Nagesh Kukunoor

Cast: Monali Thakur, Shefali Shah, Nagesh Kukunoor and Ram Kapoor

A film merely made on a pressing social issue does not always equate to a good one. In this film, director Nagesh Kukunoor tries to tell the tale of a 14-year-old girl sold into flesh trade, taking to blood, gore and stomach-churching graphic scenes to an extent that it becomes difficult to watch, instead of striking an emotional chord with viewers.

Lakshmi (Monali Thakur) is sold by her poor, alcoholic father and sent to a brothel. She is then under the mercy of a good-hearted, yet stern Jyoti (Shefali Shah) who runs the brothel and the merciless pimp Chinna (Nagesh Kukunoor).

Lakshmi is abused, raped and forced to service clients. She tries to run away from the place but in vain, until she finally manages to take her tormentors to court with the help of an NGO and lawyer Avinash (Ram Kapoor).

What is striking about the film is that it still manages to raise some serious questions about the plight of sex workers and looks beyond just rehabilitation of workers, revealing some complex and often sidelined elements.

Even though some scenes have a documentary feel, cinematographers have managed to project a real feel and the sober music that is often played in the background resonates with the film.

What is sad is how a good, socially relevant script has been put down by sensationalism. Though the film is based on a true story, it is doubtful if it has done justice to the issue of child trafficking and child prostitution that remains to haunt our society.

Whats commendable is that Monali Thakur, a 28 year old, easily passes off as a 14 year old. Shefali Shah and Nagesh Kukunoor deliver powerful performances. Lakshmi is not the average entertainer you can watch with your popcorn.

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