Lakshmi (2014 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Nagesh Kukunoor|
|Produced by||Nagesh Kukunoor
|Written by||Nagesh Kukunoor|
|Screenplay by||Nagesh Kukunoor|
|Music by||Tapas Relia|
|Edited by||Sanjib Datta|
Lakshmi is a 2014 Indian Hindi-language biographical social problem film, written and directed by Nagesh Kukunoor. The film deals with the harsh realities of human trafficking and child prostitution, which continue behind closed curtains in rural areas of India. It was earlier expected to release on 17 January 2014, but got delayed due to censorship issues.
The film Won Best Film - Mercedes Benz Audience Award, for Best Narrative at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on 13 January 2014. The film released on 21 March 2014. The film was screened official selection at Toronto Reel World, Washington DC, New York Indian and Melbourne Indian Film Festivals. It would open the 16th London Asian Film Festival in June 2014.
Lakshmi (Monali Thakur), a 14-year-old girl, is kidnapped from her village by Chinna (Nagesh Kukunoor). She is taken to the home of Chinna's elder brother and boss, Reddy (Satish Kaushik), where she first naively assumes the role of a domestic worker, helping the much older existing maid Amma (Vibha Chibber). However, she is later raped by Reddy himself. The next day, Chinna takes Lakshmi to a brothel managed by Jyothi (Shefali Shah), who is both a reassuring and oppressive figure to the girls. After her first night, Lakshmi manages to run away to a nearby police station, but her complaint falls on deaf ears since Reddy has paid off the local police force. Thrown into this horrific, inhuman world, she survives with the help of the other girls and her own will to never give in. She forms a close friendship with her roommate at the brothel Suvarna (Asha Saini), who walks her through the realities of life.
It is revealed that Jyothi works for Reddy in order to fund her daughters college education and plans to retire as soon as she graduates. At the brothel, Lakshmi meets Uma (Priyanka Vir), a kind hearted woman who periodically brings the girls sanitary items, condoms and sweets. While servicing a client at his home, Lakshmi tries to escape but is caught and punished by Chinna. She develops an infection due to the injury and is nursed by Jyothi and Survana, but is ultimately forced to work again, when a client demands a young girl. The client turns out to be an undercover agent Mohan (Ramkrishna Shenoy) who operates with the help of Jyothi and Uma, and Reddy and Chinna are arrested. The girls are taken to a women's shelter where Lakshmi recovers but the case against Reddy stagnates since no one is willing to testify against him. The brothel is reopened and one by one, the women slowly return, until Lakshmi is the only one left at the shelter.
Against all odds, Lakshmi shows courage where everybody else fails. Her lawyer (Ram Kapoor) is in retirement due to having previously suffered a nervous breakdown, and initially refuses to take the case. He believes that Lakshmi will not be able to withstand the immense stress of the case, since she is the only witness against a powerful trafficking syndicate. Resisting all pressure - violent threats, coercion and bribes, she stands up in court. Her testimony reveals that her father sold her to a local politician, who in turn sold her to Reddy. At the brothel, Chinna beats and tortures Jyothi as punishment for her betrayal, and also reveals to Jyothi's daughter that she works there. Later that night, Jyothi castrates Chinna and slits her own wrists, resulting in them both bleeding to death. The trial results in a landmark judgement in India, succeeding in putting the traffickers behind bars.
- Monali Thakur as Bangaru Lakshmi
- Ram Kapoor as Avinash, lawyer
- Satish Kaushik as Ram Reddy
- Nagesh Kukunoor as Chinna
- Gulfam Khan as Corporator Radha
- Shefali Shah as Jyoti
- Asha Saini as Suvarna
- Vibha Chibber as Amma
- Vinita Joshi Thakkar as Asha
- Priyankaa Vir as Uma didi
- Ramkrishna Shenoy as Mohan
- Sumit Sharma as Opposition Lawyer
- Raju as Bangaru Raju, Lakshmi's father
- Subhash Gupta as Dr Murli
- Suresh Kumar as Judge
Director Nagesh Kukunoor was inspired to make the film after visiting some NGOs in India, where he met victims of human trafficking.
The film is produced by both Nagesh Kukunoor, his long-time collaborator Elahe Hiptoola who worked with him on all his films since Hyderabad Blues, and also by renowned actor Satish Kaushik. Kaushik stated the marketing campaign for the film was geared towards keeping "in tandem with the theme of the movie." The producers are planning to have private screenings of the film for Non-Governmental Organizations to promote awareness of the heinous crimes depicted in the film. They also hoped the film would be backed and sponsored by actor Salman Khan, who runs his own personal NGO called Being Human.
The trailer for the film was released on 21 October 2013.
The songs have been written by Manoj Yadav and composed by Tapas Relia. The four songs are 1) Sun Sugana Re sung by Suchi and Ankita Joshi 2) Sun Ri baavli sung by Papon 3) Aa Ghar Chale Hum sung by Monali Thakur and 4) Hain Reham Hain Karam sung by Kailash Kher.
Release and reception
The film was first viewed by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in November 2013, which found some scenes "objectionable" and slated it to be next viewed by a revising committee. However, till early January the film did not receive a viewing by committee and thus missed its 17 January Indian premiere date.
Ahead of its release in India, the film has its premiere on 13 January, at the 2014 Palm Springs International Film Festival, where it received critical acclaim and won the Audience Award for Best narrative feature, which is based on viewers' votes.
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- Luminosity Pictures
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- "Kukunoor's 'Lakshmi' to Premiere at Palm Springs Film Festival". Indian West. 22 December 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
- "Lakshmi Production". glamsham. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
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- "Nagesh Kukunoor's Lakshmi to premiere in US at Palm Springs International Film Festival 2014". Bollywoodlife.com. 7 January 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
- "Kukunoor's Lakshmi wins award at Palm Springs festival". Hindustan Times. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-18.