Darlings (2022/ Dark Comedy/ Netflix)
Writers – Parveez Sheikh, Jasmeet K Reen
Director – Jasmeet K Reen
Cast – Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah, Vijay Varma, Roshan Mathews, Rajesh Sharma
Badru marries Humza, the love of her life. She has some rosy eyed dreams and life goals, and so totally in love, with the love that she has for her abusive husband that she refuses to give up hope that he will reform…. until something pushes her tolerance over the edge. And then begins a game of vengeance which is funny, naive, unrealistic,unethical but does provide, if I may say so, some relief to our aching hearts and a fair amount of morbid satisfaction (pardon me for this).
One of the major advantage of a dark comedy is that it can dare to take up disturbing subjects in lighter vein, making way for an easy watch, without actually trivialising it.
Darlings is one such film that centres around an abusive relationship and highlights domestic violence, skewed power dynamics in genders roles and toxic misogynist set ups that women give in to.
The first half of the film takes its own sweet time to build up the premise. It does seem repetitive and slow, could have been bettered. But in the maker’s defence, I would like to add that maybe they wanted to emphasise on the vicious cycle of abuse, facade of love, guilt and hope. The vicious cycle that abused women find so difficult to get out of, sometimes because they are actually dependent and sometimes because they believe so and in some cases due to Stockholm syndrome. In Badru’s case, I think it was a mix of all three which had begun to exasperate us as much as it did Shamshu (Badru’s mom).
The dialogues between the policeman and Shamshu sum it up as simplistically as possible.
So finally, when she broke out of it, I did not mind the loopholes, just relished the vengeance lashed out.
The writer director team have made good attempt in delivering something which says so much without going preachy.
They highlight what scores of women go through in their lives, their fears and hopes that keep them captive, their captor’s mindsets which are often fed by their own fears, their fragile courage which often crumbles, their aspirations which keep them going.
It has a pace of its own, yet is so engaging all the time.
Focuses on just a handful of well etched out characters, which come with their own colours – black, white and greys.
The fantastic cast adds shine to these characters .
Shefali Shah is brilliant as ever. Loved the shades in her, played so convincingly. A tenacious character played by a powerful actor with spit fire eyes.
Alia shines as ever and brings alive Badru’s innocence, vulnerability, pain and resolve.
Loved Roshan Mathews. Saw him last in Choked and man he has been so good in both the characters so varied. Would want to see more of him.
Vijay Verma is equally fantastic as the putrid tempered toxic man with facades that flip in seconds. He makes us hate him with all our hearts.
The film is a passionate effort with an off beat narrative.
Off beat because, it is not actually funny, does not certainly aim to make you laugh; It is not totally dark but makes you cringe at places only to lighten up the very next scene; It is not entertaining in a typical way, follows its own course while keeping you engaged; Doesn’t go preachy yet coveys so much, all with a pinch of salt.
That is how our protagonists carry on with their tough life and circumstances, with a pinch of salt.
The film might not appeal to all. I loved it. I would suggest watch it to know which side are you on.