The book itself is fictional, though McCormick reportedly traveled to India and Nepal to interview girls in the red-light district, as well as girls rescued from the sex trade.
Sold features examples of:
- Adaptational Badass: Lakshmi in the novels is a more passive character, ultimately being rescued by police. The film has her plan her own escape, even training herself to chew and spit red chillies as a defense method.
- Adaptational Heroism: In the novel, Lakshmi is rescued during a raid on the brothel. In the film, she successfully escapes on her own and then leads the police to raid the brothel, rescuing the other girls being held there.
- Based on a True Story: Sophia, the American humanitarian photographer, is loosely based on real-life photographer Lisa Kristine.
- Driven to Suicide: Lakshmi contemplates jumping off the roof of the brothel during her first few weeks there.
- Females Are More Innocent: Averted with Mumtaz (the brothel's madam) and Bimla (who tricks the girls into coming to Kolkata by offering them work as household maids).
- Kick the Dog: pretty much the entirety of Lakshmi's first few weeks at the brothel.
- Just a Stupid Accent: The main characters should be speaking mostly Nepali and Bengali, but the film has them dialoguing almost entirely in English.
- Would Hurt a Child: Many of the girls being kept as sex slaves are young teenagers.