Netflix’s ‘Darlings’ is Alia Bhatt’s epic dark comedy that revolves around the unhealthy relation between love and domestic violence.
Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes and it’s funny as you realize how eerily placed the topic has been.
Hamza Shaikh (Played by Vijay Verma) is an alcoholic who is a TC (Ticket Checker) in the railways during the day and a beast by the night as he beats his wife Badru Nissa (Alia Bhatt) mercilessly over petty things. Hamza is the toxic husband known for fostering domestic violence with the notion that they literally own woman.
Hamza is a brute yet a compelling character. He would cater to your rightful emotions of hatred when you will watch him beating his wife. He also possesses an enormous capacity to persuade into believing that what he did was not deliberate and that he would refrain from repeating it.
His wife Badru Nissa is the opposite. Persuaded into marrying Hamza through her feelings of love. It has been three years of marriage and of her suffering. She at times seems naïve when it comes to judging her husband’s action while she often shows shrewdness in other matters.
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Badru Nissa ‘s mother Shamshunissa (starring Shefali Shah) is a single mother who resides in the same society as her daughter and son in law. She herself had lived with her share of misery with an abusive husband. She is equally distraught with her son in law and inquires every morning from her daughter about what went wrong.
Shamshunissa is a much traditional woman. She believes tolerating abuse is necessary for a woman as iit keeps her status as someone married and hence respected.
“Dunya to Sirf Twitter Walon Ke Liye Badalti Hai Sahab”
She responds to the officer who suggests in filing a proper complaint against domestic violence for her daughter.
But once things go out of hand, Badru and her mother Shamsu decide to avenge tth abide byu giving Hamza a taste of his own medicine.
Darlings is the first movie by director Jasmeet K Reen. She has done impeccably well for a debutante. Her command over the project displayed her vision making her much distinguished. Her grip over the work is evident as it conveys professionalism and aesthetic.
When you look at the shots and the cinematics, it genuinely portrays the prowess of the mastermind, aka Anil Mehta who has work on several Bollywood hallmark projects such as Aaja Nachle, Highway, Veer Zara, Badlapur , and the legendary Lagaan. His work is quite prominent and connects naturally with the viewers.
The script has been penned by Parveez Sheikh which is quite unusual. He would normally be seen penning down more dramatic screenplays such as of Phantom, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Bazaar, and Raja Natwarlal. Seeing someone like Parveez Sheikh behind Darlings is astonishing and yet remarkable.
The screenplay is actually one of my favorites since I personally have a knack for stories revolving around domestic households, identifying the world of normal people who are mostly ignored throughout their lives. It’s actually comforting to see them being brought to light, regardless the nature of the story.
The screen does contain good comedy despite its dark nature. It succeeds in moving the viewers and reminding of the old comic era of Bollywood. The story is being rewarded mixed reviews in the box-office.
One noticeable thing about this movie is that Ali Bhatt is one of the producers alongside Gauri Khan (Wife of Shah Rukh Khan). Her ascends speaks clearly of her past Bollywood success. Alia without any doubt has been everyone’s favorite since her debut in Student of the Year.
Alia’s massive rise to success was inevitable. Despite being tagged as a product of nepotism, she smoothly paved way with her raw talent and gained love from her fans. Today she stands as one of the leading Bollywood actresses.
This movie does represent Alia’s long break from the movies. During the past 3 months, she has been in headlines for all reasons other than Darlings (Her marriage, her pregnancy, and her movie Bramashtra). Seeing Alia again on the screen in a full fledge film does brings a breath of fresh air.
Shefali Shah ‘s stellar acting makes her suitable to the role. She outperforms in her character and gives the narrative more life. Her dialogues and easiness with which she conquers the screen are unmatched and she creates the perfect duo with Alia.
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Vijay Verma, the abusive husband Hamza, is simply phenomenal. Arguably his first major role, he masterfully shifts characters from being an alcoholic to a sympathetic partner of Badru.
His on-screen acting is laudable but at times it feels that Vijay could still portray the alcoholism of his character with more debt and originality. But Vijay, overall, does far from average acting and delivers his role with considerable emotions and authenticity.
Darlings has been criticized for normalizing of domestic violence and yet the movie also gives the message of how to avoid it. No matter the reviews, one thing is definite is that Darlings is really worth watching. It has phenomenal cast, a dedicated script, and a cinematography that shows the dept of a typical middle-class household of India and Pakistan.
Darlings is currently streaming on Netflix Pakistan and is among the top trending ones.