Having cornered the market in destitute characters, Rani Mukerji demonstrates precisely why she is Bollywood's reigning queen with another poignant performance in Pradeep Sarkar's Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. Shedding her inhibitions to play a small town girl who is forced to sell her body to save her impoverished family, Mukerji takes a personal journey into the morality of today's India. While the subject may be taboo and the characters believable, Rekha Nigam's screenplay plays it safe when it comes to exploring the real murky world of Bombay's call girls.
Despite their family's dire financial straits, teenage sisters Badki (Mukerji) and Chutki (Konkona Sen Gupta) live a happy life in the holy city of Banaras. While their seamstress mother (Jaya Bachchan) toils day and night to pay the bills, their idle father (Anupam Kher) does little but feud and fill in lottery tickets. But when their house is on the verge of repossession, it's left to Badki to head to Bombay and earn money for them all. However, the urban jungle proves treacherous and soon, she faces a dilemma; return home defeated or resort to drastic measures?
"STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS"
In a city where street prostitutes are a dime a dozen, Nigam's decision to transform Badki into a high-class escort adds a contemporary twist to the story. Fortunately, Mukerji pulls off the makeover with aplomb and is convincing as a woman who takes charge of her own destiny whilst acknowledging society may never accept her emancipation. Sarkar's focus on the strong female characters sidelines the male love interests (Kunal Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan), and rightly so. His only folly is glossing over the danger and desperation associated with the sex industry in favour of exploring the predictable repercussions it has on a family unit.
Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (Fallen From Grace) is out in the UK on 12th October 2007.