Tabrez Noorani’s Love Sonia is creating quite the buzz. After premiering at the London Indian Film Festival, it is now on its way to open the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2018.
Described as “hard-hitting” and “harrowing”, Love Sonia is inspired by true events, and tells the tale of a teenage girl who gets trapped in the global sex trafficking trade. It stars Mrunal Thakur (of Kumkum Bhagya fame), Richa Chadha, Frieda Pinto, Demi Moore, Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao, Adil Hussain and Sai Tamhankar.
The film is being produced by David Womark, who has also produced the Academy Award winning film Life of Pi and the BAFTA awardee, Deepwater Horizon.
Check out the first look of the film here:
Love Sonia shines the light on the estimated $32 billion global trafficking business. And for director Tabrez Noorani, it’s a project very close to his heart, given that he has himself conducted raids on Mumbai brothels, rescuing women forced into sex work alongside anti-trafficking organisations. He told The Guardian:
I wanted to make a movie about global sex trafficking and bring it back home because it makes people uncomfortable… Everyone thinks it’s something that only happens in somebody else’s country, or happens far, far away. They watch the film and they realise it is down the street where they live. – Tabrez Noorani, Director
The challenge for Noorani, who has worked as a line producer in films like Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi, was to tell an engaging story which is not watered down or preachy: “This isn’t an esoteric movie. You need people to watch it and educate themselves. If I wanted to send a message, I would have sent a telegram.”
The film of course boasts powerful performances by a bunch of stalwart actors, and Richa Chadha has already been honoured with outstanding achievement award at the London Indian Film Festival for her performance.
This was completely unexpected. I was overwhelmed with the response to the film and I am very happy that people knew, appreciated my work here in London. It was a humbling experience.Richa Chadha in a statement
Love Sonia releases in India in September. The CBFC had initially suggested 45 cuts in the film.
After waiting for 13 years to make a realistic movie about sex trafficking, I was not going to accept this. We immediately appealed and went to the FCAT [Film Certification Appellate Tribunal] in Delhi to plead our case. After watching the film, which I have to say the committee liked, we talked, explained what our concerns were and why I wanted certain things to be in the film. We received their response recently and I am happy to say that I got to keep every scene I wanted, and there will be no visual cuts in the film at all. We will be granted an A certificate. There are some deletions on language which I have to accept, and I understand why they asked for this. – Tabrez Noorani (as told to Platform Magazine)
And what does he expect from the Indian release? “I hope that they walk out eyes slightly wider open, perhaps,” he says.
Love Sonia will stay with the viewer for hours after the film has finished. The story and authentic performances leave much to contemplate. The directional debut by Tabrez Noorani is first-class and it is partly because of his attention to detail. The close up shots to reveal the bond between the sisters, the cut-away to the filth that can be on the floors of brothels and unconventional use of the camera in flash-back scenes. – Ranjit Dhillon, I am Birmingham
The film also manages to build itself as a canopy of sorts,weaving several issues within the its narrative fabric. The obsession with keeping the girls’ virginity intact leading to anal rape, the scene were Sonia’s vagina is stitched up to remain tight, Madhuri being diagnosed with an STD, the negligible use of condoms, Preeti’s eventual submission to drug addiction and the global nature of the trafficking business all find a mention here. – Lavanya Lakshmi Narayanan, Medium