Darlings movie review: Alia Bhatt raises the bar for movies with meaning

Darlings movie review: A film that is cognizant of what it is, Darlings stars Alia Bhatt, Vijay Varma, Shefali Shah, and Roshan Mathew in outstanding performances. However, a few clumsy comedic touches ruin the mood.

“Darlings,” a film about domestic violence, gets a few things right, the most striking of which is the way it creates its couple—a husband who continues to beat his wife, and a wife who believes that “ek din woh badal jaayenge,” in a curdled mix of hope and desperation (one day he will change).

Darlings movie review Alia Bhatt

A serial wife-beater doesn’t do it because he’s compelled to; rather, he enjoys it. After feeling unmanned everywhere else, especially at work, where he is treated like trash, he feels like a huge guy in his own home. And a woman who keeps ignoring the abuse and covers up every sign of it with a smile shows almost unbelievable strength that most other victims can relate to.

In that regard, Alia Bhatt and Vijay Varma are perfect in their roles as the beautifully written Badrunissa and Hamza Sheikh, whose ‘love marriage’ turns into a revolving door of beatings and apologies a few years later. And this is the second important component that feels right: Hamza is overtaken when he sees Badru diligently preparing his pao-omlette breakfast in the daylight. He attempts to make amends with her, but she pushes him away. Finally, he uses the charm that once won her over, and she begins to melt. It’s challenging to break the cycle.

The film grips us until we continue to follow the back-and-forth between them in their poisoned world. Few actresses currently working in Bollywood have Bhatt’s ability to register moods without saying a word, which shows her emotional temperature beneath her quicksilver mood changes. The great thing about Varma is that he doesn’t actually get what he wants because he works as a ticket collector at the bottom of the totem pole in his office for a cheerful bully (Karmakar), and therefore he will make sure that no one else gets what they want. All of it is command and control, and he never makes a mistake.

Shefali Shah’s performance is the other potent act. She provides her daughter with unwavering support in her capacity as Shamshunissa, aka Shamshu, Badru’s mother, yet she is more than just a doormat. We witness a mother doing whatever it takes to keep herself afloat, with only passing mention of the arduous task of raising her kid by herself. She is trying to make a name for herself, and the exchanges between her and her sincere, attractive partner (Rohan Mathew) as she begins to advertise her services as a home cook add a touch of levity to the proceedings. He is also really good, and you want to watch more of them together since they make for an amusing strange couple.

Up until that point, everything is OK. Up until that point, everything is OK. They just happen to be Muslim, and while they are aware of the wrong that goes on around them, they are very capable of dealing with it matter-of-factly, conversationally, and clearly. The primary characters are Muslim, living in a chawl with other Muslim characters.

After the intermission, the movie begins to develop its black comedy element in an effort to lighten the “serious” subject of domestic abuse. Mother and daughter come up with awkward ways to exact retribution between making “mirchi ka salans” and hot biryanis. Maurya, a tough-talking cop who is attempting to be helpful, arrives. It’s tempting to add humour to gloomy situations in order to keep people interested. Tonal confusion is the outcome. In a movie that is otherwise so conscious of its people and their motivations, the jokes don’t truly land, the comic touches feel forced, and one or two artificial sequences get irritating.

However, the satisfyingly hefty climax saves “Darlings” from going off course. With her debut film, which featured a number of standout performances, Alia Bhatt raised the standard for meaningful films—something that even Bollywood’s lost-in-the-woods style can achieve.

In the movie Darlings, the cast includes: Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah, Vijay Varma, Roshan Mathew, Rajesh Gupta, Vijay Maurya, and Kiran Karmakar.

Director of the film Darlings: Jasmeet K. Reen

Darlings received a 2.5-star rating.

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