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Lakshmi filmmaker explores ugly element of Indian society

Nita Naidoo, Bollywood File columnist. (SUBMITTED)

By Nita Naidoo, 24 hours Vancouver

Nagesh Kukunoor’s new film Lakshmi about prostitution in India is set for release March 21, 2014. (PHOTO SCREEN GRAB FROM TWITTER.COM)

Nagesh Kukunoor’s new film Lakshmi about prostitution in India is set for release March 21, 2014. (PHOTO SCREEN GRAB FROM TWITTER.COM)


The sex trade, it’s a taboo world that exists on the peripheries of society. Sometimes called “the world’s oldest profession,” it’s a topic that’s occasionally explored by both Hollywood and Bollywood.

Sometimes it’s a whimsical story about a tough-talking courtesan with a heart of gold. At other times it’s a glimpse at the darker, uglier aspect of reducing a human being to a commodity.

It’s still hard to fathom that we live in a city where Robert Pickton victimized numerous vulnerable women on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. And if this can happen in a so-called civilized country, what about the places where rights and equality for women are still in flux?

This is the inspiration behind Nagesh Kukunoor’s new film Lakshmi, which is set for release March 21. The film explores the taboos of sex work and child prostitution that still occurs in the remote regions of India.

Monali Thakur plays the film’s13-year-old protagonist and namesake, who is kidnapped and sold into the business. Kukunoor told the Times of India he was inspired to create the film after visiting various NGOs and talking to trafficking victims.

According to the Times of India, about three million women in India are engaged in the sex trade, and over 60% are adolescent girls between 12-16 years.

Moreover, while there is a public outcry about protecting the rights and freedom of women in India, the unwritten rule is that sex workers don’t count.

Like Canada, prostitution in India is legal but communicating for the purposes of prostitution isn’t. That means sex-trade workers could face criminal charges if they approach the police or anyone else for help.

In December, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada's anti-prostitution laws.

It’s revolutionary, and it could make a template for other countries that want to protect some of their most vulnerable members — like the young women represented in Kukunoor’s film.

Bollywood gossip, guess who?

1) After a very public fallout have Bipasha Basu and Kareena Kapoor made up?

2) What epic acts do Shahid Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar have prepared for the IIFA?

3) Did Ranbir Kapoor ditch Katrina Kaif for Aditya Roy Kapur?

Answers to Blind Gossip Items will be revealed next week on RJ1200's Mornings with Paras and Sharanya, at AM1200.

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