Darlings on Netflix is a convincing satire on domestic abuse
What was so comforting and exciting about Darlings is that we finally get to watch a Bollywood movie that stands out with its strong script and brilliant performances. With so many remakes, biopics, and meaningless movies, I had lost all hope in Bollywood lately. Darlings compensates for most things that were missing in Bollywood movies for quite a long time; original and unique script, stellar cast, and humor done right.
Badrunissa Shaikh (Alia Bhatt), lovingly called Badru still holds onto the hope that her abusive husband will change for good even after he beats her black and blue every night. She blames the alcohol and not his complex-driven mindset for the suffering she goes through. Even after being beaten up every night, the next morning she cooks his favorite bun and omelet as he leaves for work, pretending he did all the abuse in name of love. According to him, thrashing and beating is an act of love. The scene reminded me of Sandeep Reddy Vanga who justified the toxic and abusive relationship in his film Arjun Reddy using the same logic!
Things get to such a point that Badru is unable to put up with Hamza’s violence anymore. With the help of her mother, Shamsunissa (Shefali Shah), she plans to take revenge on Hamza, making him go through every torture she went through in the last three years. This is where most of the humor part of the film takes the limelight. The revenge plotted by Badru and Shamsu is a fun ride and keeps us thoroughly engaged.
There is a dialog in Darlings that caught my attention; “It was just physical pain till now, but now it is hurting me mentally as well”. The dialog marks the shift of Badru’s character so far. The naïve, vulnerable woman slowly turns into a daredevil woman who wants to take charge of her life. Dialogs of Darlings is witty and skillfully written. There are many such dialogs in the film that catch our attention, make us laugh, and leave us thinking.
Using a sensitive subject like domestic abuse in a narrative and wrapping it with dark humor is challenging as the seriousness of the subject should not be lost in such a genre. Jasmeet, in her directorial debut, makes sure to balance the storytelling by giving the proper spotlight to the subject and uses humor only to support and give voice to the subject.
The dark humor in Darlings may not be the best thing out there but it definitely does its work.
As Vijay Varma mentioned in an interview, “2022 is the year of Alia Bhatt!” With the immense success of Gangubai, wedding to Ranbir Kapoor, baby on the way, and debut as a producer, 2022 is indeed a milestone year for her. Darlings, which also marks her debut as a producer, also has her in one of the best performances of the year. She has just raised the bar for herself with her spectacular performance in the film. It is no secret that Alia Bhatt has always had the privilege and support in the industry because of her lineage. But it is worth appreciating how she doesn’t take any of that for granted and keeps getting better every time, polishing herself as an actor and giving back to the cinema.
Shefali Shah too, stands tall as Alia Bhatt, giving a dynamic screen presence. The mother-daughter duo shares amazing chemistry throughout the film and it is this chemistry that holds most of the film together.
However, it is Vijay Varma who deserves a special mention for his performance in the film. The hate we feel for Hamza is the success of Vijay Varma’s realistic performance in Darlings. He plays the cunning, manipulative husband effortlessly.
Roshan Mathew has little to perform but does his part well. Zulfi is a character that could have been carved out well and explored more.
Darlings may not be the most perfect film out there but it is definitely a good and satisfying watch.
Watch Darlings on Netflix
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