Love Sonia: A Western Portrait of What Human Trafficking in India Looks Like

Bollywood

Love Sonia: A Western Portrait of What Human Trafficking in India Looks Like

Illustration: Arati Gujar

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efore directing Love Sonia, Tabrez Noorani served as a producer for Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and last year’s Lion – films set in India but shot with a keen Western gaze. A genre that might be offensive at times, but is rarely damaging. Love Sonia employs the same look for India’s sex trade. But for the film, the source material for which is more fact than fiction, such a starkly American perspective is not only offensive and damaging – it is exploitative. Even though it is well-intentioned.

Love Sonia follows the journey of 17-year-old Sonia (a terrific Mrunal Thakur) as she searches for her sister, both victims of human trafficking. As is usual for films with a social message, Love Sonia’s closing slate accommodates numbers that inform us about the uncurbed sexual exploitation of women, especially minors. But can that justify the film’s overwrought poverty, trauma, and suffering porn?

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