‘Love Sonia’ presents a tragic picture of trafficked women

A still from ‘Love Sonia.'
Updated 18 September 2018
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‘Love Sonia’ presents a tragic picture of trafficked women

  • Sucked into the seedy trade of human trafficking, Sonia is not only raped and punished for not falling in line

CHENNAI: Trafficked women are humans — and that’s exactly what director Tabrez Noorani wants us to remember with “Love Sonia.”
Written by Ted Caplan and Alkesh Vaja, the film infuses a sense of endearing humanism into the narrative as it trains the spotlight on tortured women who find themselves involved in the sex trade.
Inspired by true events and shot in a documentary style, “Love Sonia” captures the horrifying reality of Mumbai’s underbelly — where men, trying to make a fast buck, turn into monsters by trafficking innocent teenagers.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the film is its characterization. Whether it is debt-ridden farmer Shivaji (Adil Hussain), ruthless brothel owner Rashmi (Freida Pinto) — hardened over the years — or Madhuri (Richa Chadha) whose transformation into a good Samaritan is one of the film’s highlights, all characters have been created to perfection.
Prime among them is Faizal (Manoj Bajpayee) who acts as both a mentor and romantic interest to the girls.
One of these girls is Sonia, 17, who is pushed into the dark confines of a brothel after she goes searching for her sister, sold to moneylender Baldev Singh (Anupam Kher), by their father, Shivaji.
What a superlative performance Mrunal Thakur delivers as the title character. Sucked into the seedy trade of human trafficking, Sonia is not only raped and punished for not falling in line, but shipped away in containers to Hong Kong and later Los Angeles, too — her agonizing cries for help panning across continents.
Manish (Rajkummar Rao) enters the film as a savior, but Sonia is too broken by now to believe that not all men are beasts and pushes him away. For most of the film, the director remains steadfast in his commitment to present a heart-rending picture of prostitutes, with Lucas Bielan’s lens acting as a constant reminder of the fact that women of supposed ill repute could be trapped in a cage.


‘Benny the Beluga’ facing Christmas in the Thames far from home

Updated 13 December 2018
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‘Benny the Beluga’ facing Christmas in the Thames far from home

  • A beluga whale that was first spotted nearly three months ago in the River Thames is still feeding healthily

LONDON: A beluga whale that was first spotted nearly three months ago in the River Thames is still feeding healthily east of the British capital and facing a lone Christmas hundreds of miles from its normal Arctic habitat.
The white cetacean, which feeds on fish, squid and crabs, was first spotted in September and surfaced near Gravesend, Kent on the southern side of the estuary.
The last spotting of the whale, dubbed Benny the Beluga by the British media, was on Dec. 12 east of Gravesend, said a spokesman for the Port of London Authority which oversees the river.
“The whale pops up, and I am not exaggerating, for literally three to four seconds and then he disappears for 10 or 15 minutes and he moves in a wide, dark river, so you see how hard it is to track his precise location,” the spokesman said.
“This whale in its natural environment in the Arctic is a diverse feeder – so it is not a fussy eater,” the spokesman said. “The Thames is much cleaner now so there are more fish stocks.”
The beluga appears to be healthy, he added.
The last sighting of beluga whales in UK waters was in 2015 when they were spotted off northeastern England near the Northumberland coastline, but they left shortly afterwards.
Belugas, which can grow up to 5.5 meters (18 feet) long, spend most of their time off the coasts of Alaska, Canada and Russia, though they often travel great distances in search of food.