The whole uproar about the India's daughter documentary is just ridiculous. I don't want to watch it right now even though I could review it on my blog and get many hits. That is because Nirbhaya incident is too recent and since the rapists are still alive, it is a little hopeless. I would rather watch it once she gets justice (if that is even possible).

But let's not shift focus from another great movie which deserves it's due. Lakshmi released in March and I wanted to go watch it but couldn't. It's a little difficult to watch such movies in the theatres. And buying a DVD is pointless. If only I could pay and watch online, it would make life simpler AND the producers would earn some money. I have been looking for a copy online (in all the wrong places) when Sonal told me it's on YouTube. Always, always check on YouTube first.

The movie stars Monali Thakur, Satish Kaushik, Nagesh Kukunoor, Ram Kapoor, Shefali Shah and Asha Saini. It has been directed by Nagesh Kukunoor and deals with human trafficking and prostitution. 

*Confession time*
I love Nagesh... adore him... and so disappointed he does not make commercial movies anymore. But am glad he is making movies on topics which are not spoken about much. And I am dedicating my Holi to him by watching Rockford and Hyderabad Blues again. The former makes me nostalgic about boarding school days and the latter is so funny.

*major spoilers ahead*

The movie is about Lakshmi who is a 14 year old girl. The movie starts with Chinna who is a pimp, played by Nagesh, and is trafficking girls to Hyderabad. He is the younger brother of Reddy, played by Satish Kaushik. Reddy does not seem happy to see such a young girl and takes her home with him. At that stage I wondered why doesn't she just go home. But instead she asks him to let her stay at his house and work for him. He agrees and you wonder or rather hope she lives happily ever after. Yes, I know it's the beginning but I was afraid what's going to happen. There is another lady who also lives in Reddy's house and cooks and cleans for him. One day Reddy comes home and rapes Lakshmi.
 She is then sent to the brothel with Chinna. The brothel is managed by Jyoti, played by Shefali. At this point I thought- Shefali is so nice. She won't let anything happen to this young girl. I was wrong. Lakshmi goes from an innocent teenager to prostitute very fast. She tries to run away to the cops but is brought back because the Reddy brothers have contacts. Of course!!!

6 months pass and life goes on. Lakshmi learns how to smile and laugh again with help from her room-mate Swarna, played by Asha. But she does not forget the promise to Chinna- that she will run away. And does. But Chinna catches her and hits her so badly, she cannot get up from her bed. And yet, she is raped by customers- 6-7 times in the night. All this is not shown at that point. 
A sting by a social worker rescues all of them. But the lack of evidence and witnesses means all the women are back in the brothel and working again while the Reddy brothers go scot free. Lakshmi is the only one who stays on at the ashram run by the NGO. She decides to file a case against the Reddy brothers. This is quite difficult because all they have is the word of a 14 year old child and a tape from the sting operation.
Avinash, played by Ram Kapoor, is a lawyer and agrees to fight the case pro bono. Doesn't it warm the cockles of your heart when you see Ram Kapoor onscreen? He is like the adorable uncle who is nice, cuddly and will solve all your problems. He gives me such a happy feeling that I want to hug him. 

Anyway, he fights the case AND I realized this is just half the story. The reality is far, far, far worse. It's beyond imagination. It makes you shudder and weep. It makes you wonder how this 14 year old girl will ever be able to laugh after knowing what she knows. And she wins the case.. with courage, determination and strength beyond her years.
This is a true story. This is a real life story. This is the story of someone who fought the system and won. She went through hell and back. And that's when it shakes you up. It's ok as long as it's fiction. We can move on. But how do we move on from something this real and horrifying.

Human trafficking is very common. I live in Haryana and my life and human trafficking brushes against each other lightly. All the maids from Bihar and Jharkhand... all the stories in the paper daily on how they are forced into prostitution or ill treated by employers as maids. It's around us but we barely notice it. 

The movie is non Bollywoodish. Yes, there are songs but they don't interrupt the narration. Everyone is as real as they can be. Sure, the movie has been dramatized a little but that is expected. 

There are some movies everyone should watch. Lakshmi is one of them. If and when I have kids, I will make sure they watch 1 socially aware movie every month and Lakshmi will be one of them. They will also watch the show Vagina Monologues. 


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