Director Raghuram’s offers a grim portrayal of a sex worker's life through Fair & Lovely. The film reveals the cold hard truths that lurk in the life of a woman who exploits her body for financial gain.
The film is centred on conversations that occur between the two main characters, Manu (Prem) and Bhumika (Shweta Srivastsav) and their individual stories pieced together from their past memories. Fair & Lovely begins with Dr Bhumika (Shweta Srivatsav) being honoured by an association for her service to mankind. After receiving her award Bhumika reveals the man behind her success. Thus begins the first flashback where Manu is introduced for the first time. He is a software engineer who is shown being chased by the police for a simple traffic violation. While trying to escape, he accidentally lands up in a brothel. Unfortunately the brothel he chooses gets raided and everyone runs out of the place. Somehow Manu manages to evade the cops and find a hiding place inside the building. This is where he encounters a prostitute who is also in hiding. The two are locked up inside the house and safe for the time being.
From this point on, the film unravels through several flashbacks and interwoven narratives. The prostitute goes by several names which emerge in her different stories.
While hearing her speak, Manu calls his friends asking them to help him get out of the house. The culminating climax is quite a surprise as the prostitute requests Manu to take her to the hospital. Who is this person in her life, she is desperate to see in the hospital and what happens next forms the rest of the story.
Raghu has tried to deliver a strong social message in a sensitive manner as his film is set against the backdrop of flesh trade. The director has maintained a certain class and dignity throughout the film and does not allow any vulgarity to creep in.
The only criticism would be that the film's pace tends to slow down as conversations cover a large part of the film. At the same time they tend to be realistic and sober and thus the film doesn't have a high emotional quotient. People have heard various stories about sex workers' lives and there is nothing out-of-the-box in this particular prostitute’s life. The makers could have added some fun or thrilling elements to bring in a commercial edge to the film.
Also such serious issues involving prostitution cannot to be entertaining nor can it bring in change for the community of sex workers who are coerced into the trade and this leaves the film hanging a bit.
Prem has always been pleasant to see on screen and has faithfully followed the director’s instructions. Shweta has tried to stick to the ground realities, without overdoing her act or her look.
The supporting characters have done justice to their blink-and-miss roles. The highlight of the film is the music scored by V Harikrishna and it is in accordance with the film's theme. The songs remind you of old classics and lift the film in parts. Cinematographer Jagadish Wali has tried to capture his best with the available resources.
The Verdict: This insight into a sex worker's life behind closed doors is a good watch and doesn’t threaten to turn into a serious subject.