'Darlings', Alia Bhatt's latest movie, analysed
REVIEW OF DARLINGS
'Darlings', Jasmeet K Reen's directorial debut, is a movie about Badru (Alia Bhatt)'s struggle with an abusive husband Hamza (Vijay Varma). The film showcases Badru's metamorphosis from a gullible wife to a more assertive individual aware of her rights.Â
Badru's mother Shamshu (Shefali Shah) is her daughter's bedrock of support. She sees through Hamza early on and advises Badru to separate, but to no avail. It takes a miscarriage to make Badru realise that Hamza is like a scorpion and that friendship with a scorpion is fraught with danger.
The film portrays how well-meaning attempts to make Hamza kick the bottle boomerang on Badru. Badru believes that Hamza will turn over a new leaf if he quits drinking. But Hamza, who gives up drinking after a warning from his doctor, continues to misbehave. Alcohol is clearly an excuse for Hamza's gas lighting. With this, the film also challenges the notion that men will be men.
Darlings also portrays how lower-middle-class victims of abuse often let go of the chance to get justice because they fear social stigma.
Alia Bhatt and Shefali Shah breathe life into a mundane Mumbai Chawl with their acting prowess. They are the energy and life of their neighbourhood with their deft portrayal of lower-middle-class women fighting poverty and abusive partners.
Darlings also legitimizes the use of violence to counter domestic abuse. Quite understandable, given Badru's desperate situation vis Hamza.
Despite its dark theme, Darlings has its lighter moments. Whether it is the confused cop Rajaram Tawde (Vijay Maurya) or ticket collector Damle (Kiran Karmakar), you smile when they occupy screen space. Of course, Alia Bhatt and Shefali Shah are the ones who make you laugh the most.Â
Vijay Verma's portrayal of the mean Hamza Shaikh deserves applause. Being paired opposite a formidable actor like Alia Bhatt must have been daunting. Yet, Verma rises to the occasion with a performance that is sure to stand him in good stead in future Bollywood projects.
The statutory warning at the end sums up the movie aptly: Violence against women is injurious to health.Â