Based on true events, Lakshmi is a story of heroism and untold courage. Lakshmi, a 13 year old girl is kidnapped and sold into prostitution. Thrown into this horrific, inhuman world where ...
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Based on true events, Lakshmi is a story of heroism and untold courage. Lakshmi, a 13 year old girl is kidnapped and sold into prostitution. Thrown into this horrific, inhuman world where she is raped and brutally beaten she barely survives with the help of the other girls and her own will to never give in. Finally she is rescued in a police raid. Against all odds, Lakshmi shows courage where everybody else fails. Resisting all pressure - violent threats, coercion and bribes, she stands up in court and in a landmark case in India, succeeds in putting the traffickers behind bars.
Though the content remains the same, it's Nagesh's brutally honest execution & the performances which actually make an impact.
Thankfully with LAKSHMI, the director regains his somehow lost spirit back and delivers a pretty sincere, relevant and hard hitting film which is disturbing enough to make you feel uneasy thinking about its innocent protagonist and the inhuman cruelty suffered by her in just the tender age of 14.
Made in a clichéd style, LAKSHMI is reportedly based on a true story of a minor girl who is forcibly made to spend six horrible months in a brothel run by a local leader. After making few attempts to run away from that awful hell, the girl gets her severe punishments in the shape of ruthless beatings and repeated rape by men in a single night turning her into a lifeless body lying on the dirty bed with some bloody wounds and high fever. Accepting her unfortunate fate, she starts selling her body to all the strange men every night until she gets another chance of making an exit with the help of a NGO activist. The brave girl decides to be the only witness in the court against the powerful & wealthy opponents and then wins the case too, setting a new trend in the entire region saving many other minor girls from being abducted and thrown into a similar hell.
Showcasing some remarkable performances by the entire cast, LAKSHMI actually becomes an essential watch for its fabulous acts alone and there is a specific reason for this questionable statement discussed later. Monali Thakur plays the lead role impressively, speaking through her child-like face and expressive eyes along with Flora Saini providing a strong support as her close friend sharing the same room. Both Satish Kaushik & Nagesh Kukunoor are simply terrific playing the two evil men and the rest of the cast equally plays it well in their respective roles. However the characters which stand out with something exceptional after Lakshmi in the film are of Shefali Shah as the brothel manager and Ram Kapoor playing the frustrated lawyer fighting for justice. The noteworthy camera-work and decent background score helps a lot in enhancing its overall impact, but the film ideally should have been made with no songs and in a lesser duration to reach out its audience more strongly.
Coming to the statement left unexplained above, no doubt such stories need to be told and brought forward to show the society its own sick mentality revealing the hidden ugly truth. But at the same time, from cinematic point of view, the specific plot of the film has certainly been used several times before in many films and therefore has nothing fresh in store for the viewers as far as its basic content is concerned. Now as I feel, Nagesh being an experienced director, was also well aware of this lack of novelty & completely predictable storyline of his chosen subject. And thus had only two possible ways to make it work.
One - make the movie emotionally so strong that the audience get moist eyes and can feel empathy for the girl going through all that unpleasant sufferings like a lifeless object or Two - make it so disgracefully shocking that the viewers feel extremely sick watching its extraordinarily gory sequences like never before and start talking about Lakshmi, spreading a quick word of mouth after watching it. Now since it was the second option which was likely to bring in more footfall in the theaters & critic's praises too (becoming the talk of the town), therefore Nagesh courageously went for the same and made one of the most hard hitting films of the recent times with many dreadful, distressing and appalling scenes which might be a first for many Indian viewers not familiar with the films of world cinema.
Making it more clear, in order to make the message reach the end user in the most upsetting manner, Nagesh bluntly uses many awful but realistic scenes/dialogues in his film, with an honest mention of all the physical discomforts faced by sex workers without any hiding or adapting any 'audience friendly' style. For instance, though we have a masterpiece MANDI made in 1983 by maestro Shyam Benegal based on a similar premise, still a Hindi film has never looked into the daily activities of a brothel as truthfully depicted in LAKSHMI, with scenes showing strict instruction being given to use condoms before making the deal, the use of lubricants to make it easier, the girls being taught how to fake it all and then its climax sequence where Nagesh mercilessly tortures the revolting lady with a burning cigarette, only to face a more ruthless revenge taken by her later, beyond imagination.
Having said that (praising the project largely), I still found the film portraying many 'single layered characters' only and unable to go deep into the psyche of that innocent 14 year old girl facing that shameful trauma. The whole effort looked like a more deliberate one with the 'strong feel' of an intentionally made movie just to make the heads turn through its exceptionally gruesome scenes being the major attraction. Yes, the director does bring forward one of the most important problems of sex trafficking in our country, involving the adolescent girls sold at a price by their own families (in the remote areas) and the rehabilitation problem faced by these rescued women too searching for a stable life.
But despite the fact, I truly felt that perhaps Nagesh was also exploiting the same inhuman torture faced by the unfortunate victims in his film too, which was supposedly made to spread some social awareness about the concerning issue.
Anyway, as I might be the only one thinking in that direction, so just ignore this personal perception of mine and do try to give LAKSHMI a chance, mainly for its socially relevant theme and some powerful performances simply not to be missed.
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