'Lakshmi' team visits Kolkata
Renowned Indian playback singer Monali Thakur along with Bollywood film director Nagesh Kukunoor were in Kolkata on Wednesday to promote their upcoming movie 'Lakshmi'.
'Lakshmi' is a true story of heroism and untold courage of a beautiful 13 year old girl whose life takes a tragic turn.
Snatched away from the security and love of her family, Lakshmi is thrown into a life of trauma and terror, a violent nightmare for any woman.
The film deals with the harsh realities of human trafficking and child prostitution, which continue behind closed curtains in rural areas of India.
The film was screened at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in California, US on Jan 13, 2014 where it won the Audience Award.
Lakshmi, a 13-year old girl is kidnapped and sold into prostitution. Thrown into this horrific, inhuman world where she is raped and brutally beaten, she struggles to survive with the help of the other girls and her own will to never give in.
Director Nagesh Kukunoor was inspired to make the film after visiting some NGO's in India, where he met victims of human trafficking.
Addressing the media at the press conference held here at the Pipal Tree Hotel, Monali Thakur said, "When I heard the script, this topic I was thrilled. I don't know what I was prepared for, the crew and Nagesh made me do everything. I followed them. I feel this story needs to be told to the audience, it is not to shock anyone."
She added, "It's a true story. The central story is of Lakshmi standing up against her traffickers. I am glad to come to Kolkata and extremely happy to meet my lovely fans all over the City of Joy. We are here to promote our upcoming film Lakshmi and hope that people would love it when it hits the big screen."
Lakshmi is kidnapped and separated from her father and sisters, and sold to the Reddy brothers, the dangerous front men for a nexus in human trafficking.
Being a child, she is separated from the other girls and taken to the elder Reddy's house, where she is lulled into a false sense of security, and then violently raped by Reddy.
Then she is sent to a brothel owned by the brothers.
At the brothel Lakshmi meets Swarna, a pragmatic, tough, spunky girl and Jyoti, the 'tough love' madam who runs the brothel for the Reddy brothers.
Swarna and Jyoti attuned to the realities of the brothel and having been institutionalized teach Lakshmi the ropes.
As Lakshmi's roommate, she helps her cope with the degradation of being of a prostitute. But Lakshmi is not ready to be enslaved. She refuses to make peace with the horror of her fate. But her repeated attempts at escaping only serve to remind her of the futility of her situation - that there is no escape, and nowhere to escape to!.
Dejected, she accepts her fate. Lakshmi makes the brothel, her home. The child Lakshmi fades away, lost in the hustle -bustle of the flesh market. She turns to alcohol, and the other girls for support, to endure the burden of her life.
Finally, there comes a ray of hope with Uma, a social worker who periodically brings relief to the girls in form sweets, necessities, medication, sympathy and love.
She tells Lakshmi, she has found her family. Her hopes rekindled, Lakshmi decides to escape again. But this time she is caught by the younger and far more ruthless Reddy brother.
He beats Lakshmi senseless and shows no mercy. He puts her back to work immediately and as punishment for her transgressions 'ups' the customer quota.
Lakshmi's health fails, but Reddy doesn't relent.
One such 'customer' is Mohan. As part of an NGO against women trafficking and working with Uma, Mohan organizes a sting operation to rescue the girls.
All they need is a witness, just one woman who will speak against the Reddy brothers in the court - they don't find one!
Against all odds, the terrorized, degraded and broken child-woman shows courage where everybody else fails. Resisting all pressure: violent threats, coercion and bribes, she stands up in court and in a historic landmark case, succeeds in putting the Reddy brothers as well as everyone involved in the nexus - all the way to the top - behind bars.
Lakshmi is the story of a frightening reality that haunts women from deprived backgrounds.
But it is also the true story of a child whose spirit could not be broken. A hero in a land filled with cowards, whose courage and determination finally triumphs over evil.
The film is all set to hit the silver screens on Mar 21, 2014.
Director Nagesh Kukunoor said, "Are we being human? This is the central question that plagued me as I interacted with the many brave rescued girls of the shelter home. The torture they had endured at the hands of the traffickers was horrific and yet these girls had emerged as shining beacons of strength - a lesson to the world, to never give up."
He said, "The stories were many, but one emerged above all. A story of a fourteen year old - who, after months of abuse and inhumanity, had chosen to fight the injustice, showing strength that few thought was possible in a girl that age."
"This is a story I feel very strongly the world needs to know. This is a story of hope, courage and victory. This is the story of Lakshmi," Kukunoor noted.
(Posted on 13-03-2014)
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