Direction: Nagesh Kukunoor
Actors: Monali Thakur, Satish Kaushik, Shifaali Shah
Nagesh Kukunoor’s Lakshmi is a disturbing film, in both a good and a bad way.
The story, about a 14-year-old sold into prostitution, is an amalgamation of fact and fiction. Nagesh, who has also written the film, doesn’t shy away from the horrors she endures. The direction is heavy-handed and overtly literal but effective.
We watch as Lakshmi, played by debutant Monali Thakur, is raped, beaten and brutalised into submission. Her body is broken literally but her spirit remains intact. She runs away at every chance she gets and eventually takes her traffickers to court.
It’s gut-wrenching but gripping. But then, in the second half, Kukunoor takes the brutality to such an extreme that it stops having impact. I looked away and emotionally stepped out of the story.
I simply didn’t want to be subjected to the ugliness anymore. Which is a shame because Lakshmi is heartfelt and has some fine performances by Monali, Satish Kaushik and Shifaali Shah.
Honestly, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend Lakshmi. In places, it’s repulsive and, yet, it demands to be seen. So you decide for yourselves.