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Alia Bhatt, Vijay Varma, and Shefali Shah shine in this dark comedy about domestic violence

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The movie stars Alia Bhatt, Vijay Varma, and Shefali Shah and shows the realities of what it is like for those in an abusive relationship and the sometimes unintended repercussions for their victims.


Web Series: Darlings
Darlings cast: Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah, Vijay Varma, Roshan Matthew
Darlings Director: Jasmeet K Reen
Where to Watch: Netflix
Review by: Urmimala Banerjee
Movies about domestic violence are relatively rare in Bollywood nowadays. Of course, exceptions like Thappad exist. Past films include Agni Sakshi, Daraar, and the thrilling Khoon Bhaari Maang. Jasmeet K Reen’s film Darlings is a comedy centering around the effects of domestic abuse. This distinction is very different from the damsel in distress paradigm typically used in most films which explore this idea. Jasmeet explores a world in which women cannot escape their abuser on an emotional and psychological level.

Review
Why is it important? What is society’s reaction to victims of domestic violence? How can you be an ally? Darling is a quirky account of a woman who fights not only for her dignity but also to be seen after suffering at the hands of love. Does Darlings feel breezy? Is it cruel to men? For more on Darlings, scroll down.

What is it about..
The main couple in this film is Badrunissa (Alia Bhatt) and Hamza Shaikh (Vijay Varma). Their relationship is beset by instances of domestic violence due to Hamza’s alcoholism. She is told by her mother Shamshu to leave her husband because there is no hope for him. In spite of this, Badru believes that love can conquer all until a horrific incident awakens her darker side. Is it possible for domestic violence to make someone psychologically twisted? We won’t give any more spoilers!

Watch the trailer of Darlings below

Overall, Darlings’ cast elevates the film. The real standouts include Vijay Varma. In his role as Hamza, O-kaoma pulls off a tour-de-force. You can feel the dread Badru experiences as an angry Hamza enters the room. He is great. Shefali Shah does a splendid job of playing Alia Bhatt’s mother, Shamshu, who has her own struggles to cope with. Shamshu is intensely sentimental, logical, and deeply understands that her daughter is pursuing an unattainable goal. Coming to Alia Bhatt, she’s outstanding as always. Directors Jasmeet K Reen is successfully taking us into a world where domestic violence is like an open secret but people are beginning to speak up about the issue and demand that things change. Roghan Matthew (Roshan) takes on the most dynamic role in the film, that of a novice screenwriter, who works as a runner for an dabba delivering lady and aspires to write for mainstream Hindi cinema. Dialogue by Vijay Maurya, Jasmeet K Reen and Parveez Shaikh made me laugh, and actors’ timing make it all more impactful.

No, what else is there
Even though the ending of the film is foreseeable, it is expected and there is enough substance that turns the stomach to suspect a gross miscarriage of justice as there are flaws in the concept of what can be allowed for a woman, although there is enough appeal for both sexes when considering this film is a women’s story from an emotional level. Is there a way that it could have been more gender neutral? Perhaps.

Conclusion
Whether you have an opinion about gender equality or inadequate laws for domestic abuse, Darlings is a compelling watch. It’s truthful, but uplifting and unnerving, too. Performances from the main cast were the icing on the cake.

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