Issue 49 / SOLD The Movie: A Look At The Brutal Reality of Child Trafficking and The Sex Trade

SOLD The Movie: A Look At The Brutal Reality of Child Trafficking and The Sex Trade

May 07, 2016

SOLD chronicles the journey of a young girl from Nepal to India, as she is sold into the sex trade and fights for her own survival. The film is bold, brave and brutally delivers a message about a real-life situation that plagues millions around the world. A must watch!

Based on true stories chronicled in Patricia McCormick's book of the same title, SOLD tells the story of Lakshmi, a young girl who journeys from a rural village in Nepal to a brothel-prison called "Happiness House" in Kolkata, India. The fllm is produced with Academy Award winner Emma Thompson and directed by Academy Award winning director Jeffrey Brown.

Through one extraordinary girl's story, this film illustrates the brutality of child trafficking, which affects millions of children around the globe every year. Globally the average age of a trafficked girl is thirteen. This film is a call to action and a testament to the power and resilience of the human spirit, aiming to inspire a global movement to address this crime domestically and internationally.

Still from SOLD, where Lakshmi travels to a brothel in India from Nepal
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“Art is a very, very powerful and effective tool," says GillIan Anderson to ANOKHI. “By getting to observe the experiences of one girl, she becomes the voice of the millions who don’t have a voice and the millions who don’t have a choice in their lives … When people are moved by film … they are often moved into action. It’s very difficult to see this film without asking the question at the end: What can I do?” Anderson continues.

Still from SOLD, where Gillian Anderson disguises herself as a nun
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Within the first few scenes of SOLD, you see the picturesque landscapes of Nepal and a family living a very simple lifestyle. But the beauty of these landscapes are cut with a sharp knife when the reality of the sex trade sets in. Just as easily as I can write this sentence, a child is innocently sold into the human trafficking ring, and it's here that the story of Lakshmi, the young protagonist of the film, begins.

What's shocking as a viewer is how easy it was for Lakshmi to be convinced to travel abroad in hopes of earning enough financial resources to support her poverty-stricken family. Perhaps this is the innocence of childhood at work, or the sheer ignorance of how brutal life can be. But in SOLD, the moment Lakshmi is lured into India for work is to show the false promises fed to young children, and to illustrate the brutality and resistance of will required to get them to work in the sex trade. It's shocking!

Film Poster for SOLD
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What continues to pull at heart strings is the various back-stories of the other women imprisoned at Happiness House, lured into its confines in a similar fashion to Lakshmi. Women lured out of circumstance, with the willingess to help their families in hopes of returning to them and women who return but come back because they are outcasts from their social and cultural communities. SOLD addresses a lot in its one-and-a-half-hour duration, but each scene is placed into the narrative strategically to give voice, to give visual and to bring light to the untold stories of so many children and women around the world, and in this regard the film is truly effective.

Still from SOLD, where Lakshmi begs Gillian Anderson for help.
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There's plenty of nail-bitingly disturbing scenes that get you so uncomfortable you can only feel the pain of those who find themselves in these situations. The scene where David Arquette and young Lakshmi pretend to have sex just to keep brothel owners from finding out that they're actually plotting an escape plan is one that keeps you at the edge of your seat. Or the scene when Gillian Anderson, a photo journalist, disguses herself as a nun to wander the forbidden streets only to stumble upon an imprisoned Lakshmi begging for help and then to watch in astonishment, helplessly as Lakshmi is brutally beaten for trying to escape is one that truly leaves you helpess as a viewer. The scene in which Lakshmi is drugged and her unconscious body is sold to multiple men throughout the night is one that stands out for its brutality, its inhumanity and its sheer horror. This scene really makes you feel and understand the horror and the helpelessness of those sold into the sex trade system.

So what inspired director Jeffrey Brown to make a film on the sex trade and child-trafficking? "I wanted to make a film which was going to help children who were vulnerable and at risk. Inspired by the films Salaam Bombay and Born Into Brothels, I was interested in this area. As a storyteller, I know that the most powerful films which shed the most light are often about some of the darkest realms of existence. Our story is filled with hope and humanity even though the setting is in a prison brothel," Brown says to ANOKHI.

Still from SOLD
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"An innocent person is imprisioned and while helping everyone around them wants desperately to escape. I read the novel SOLD in one sitting, I knew immediately that I had found what I was looking for — a story which could not only spread awareness but could be used as a fundraising tool to help real at-risk children have lives of dignity and hope. By telling the story of one amazing girl, we give a voice to this issue and to the millions of children who disappear each year into the world of human trafficking. The global average age of a trafficked child is thirteen, the same age as our amazing heroine. ECPAT estimates that globally approximately 1.8 million disappear every year into sexual slavery," Brown continues.

To match this powerful directorial intention is the film's music. The score is POWERFUL! Aside from some catchy Bollywood tunes such as "Aaja Nachle" and "Disco Wali Khisko" making it into the film with cameos from Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Rani Mukherjee, the film's original score is one that compliments the emotions of the characters and elevates it to a level that can only pack in a punch with the viewer. The man behind the music is none other than Sammy Chand.

Still from SOLD, where Lakshmi is inprisoned in the Happiness House in India
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"I had the fine pleasure of working alongside John McDowell on this film score, to really give the film a different edge when needed. John’s music was so eloquent and really articulated some of the depths that Laxmi’s character required, that I felt my music was best suited for some of the other scenes that required a little more of an edge or my hip hop touch. For me though, as a composer and music supervisor, meeting the emotional needs of Laxmi’s condition and her story was really the driving force. She was definitely my inspiration," Chand told ANOKHI.

"When I saw the film, I immediately got out of my chair and gave Jeffrey the biggest hug. I actually saw the film at his place during one of the earlier edits. I was so grateful to him for pulling off a remarkable feat of its own…they’ve helped articulate the condition of human trafficking to us in a way we’ve never quite seen. I expressed those sentiments to Jeffrey the moment after I hugged him! This film needs to be seen," says Chand.

And with that sentiment, I most certainly agree!

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Watch the theatrical trailer of SOLD below:

Daniel Pillai


Daniel is the Digital Media Manager for ANOKHI MEDIA and the host for ANOKHI's entertainment channel, PULSE TV. As part of the dream team, Daniel manages all multiple channels under ANOKHI’s portfolio, while also training new on-air talent, and showing budding p...


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