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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

#Lakshmi: Plight of sex-slaves in India in focus as London Asian Film Festival gets underway

As news of the often horrific plight of young girls and women in the South Asian sub-continent reaches a crescendo in the mainstream media, a new film that explores yet another aspect of the life of the South Asian girl is set to open this year's London Asian Film Festival (LAFF).

'Lakshmi', directed by acclaimed filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor, is an unflinching look at the horrors of sex-trafficking in India, where more than 50,000 girls disappear every year, most sold into prostitution and a majority of cases remaining unsolved.

The film will have its European premier at LAFF 1 June with director Kukunoor in attendance at the 16th edition of Europe's oldest South Asian film festival.

'Lakshmi' is based on the real-life story of an impoverished 14-year-old girl kidnapped from her village in Andra Pradesh and forced into prostitution and who eventually testified in court against her traffickers.

The film stars singer-turned-actress Monali Thakur in the central role, as well as TV actor Ram Kapoor and Bollywood veteran Satish Kaushik.

The film had its world premier in January at the prestigious Palm Springs International Film Festival 2014 where it won the Audience Award for 'Best Narrative Feature'. 

Director Kukunoor has been praised by critics and audiences alike for his unflinching portrayal of the horrors of child trafficking and sexual slavery in India.

The director, a US-qualified Chemical Engineer who burst on to the Bollywood scene with his self-financed first movie 'Hyderabad Blues', is renowned for his intense and deeply authentic directing style: he was reportedly accosted following a special screening in March in the Kamathipura 'Red Light' District of Mumbai with enraged sex-workers demanding that the producers hand over the man who plays the film's brutal and malevolent pimp, not realizing that the role was played by the director himself.

'Lakshmi' will be screened at the Tricycle Theatre in London, Sunday 1 June at 3.00 pm.

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