Netflix’s Darlings is a delight. A dark comedy starring Alia Bhatt and Shefali Shah

northby etflix dear is a quintessential black comedy, led by powerful performances from Alia Bhatt and Shefali Shah. The film is about the question that Indian women have heard over and over again: “Why don’t you quit if it’s so bad?”

Directed by Jasmeet K. Reen, the film shows how crucial and refreshing it is to have filmmakers understand the layers of being a woman in India, especially those that lie across the cross sections of caste, class, and religion. Negotiate the universe of Badru and Shamshu without being insensitive. The balance of restraint, infused with black comedy, elevates the narrative, and the dialogue, co-written by Parveez Sheikh and Vijay Maurya, moves the film forward.

Despite using the comic book trope, the seriousness of domestic violence is never downplayed.

Badrunissa, also known as Badru (Alia Bhatt), is a superstitious young woman married to an abusive man named Hamza (Vijay Varma). Hamza is someone who, like many Indian men we have heard stories of, comes home from a drunken night and beats up his wife. What results is a story of retributive justice, sympathy and female solidarity. At its core, Darlings is a story of mother and daughter through hardship.

A mix of talent

Alia Bhatt in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiachannel (2022) proved that she is a rare actress in Bollywood who can lead a movie to both critical acclaim and commercial success. Bhatt turns producer into dearAnd it’s a gamble worth it.

She shines like Badru and shows commendable finesse. She holds her own against Shefali Shah, a flawless actress in her own right. The latter only gets better with the part of her in the 2021 Amazon Prime Video movie Ajeeb Daastaans. Negotiating the comic and the duel in equal parts, in dearShah plays Shamshu, Badru’s mother and an aspiring home chef.

The story is set in a fiction. Chawl in Mumbai which has a majority Muslim population. One of them is Hamza (Vijay Varma), who is caught in a different web of violence due to his minority status in the office: he is routinely subject to the whims of an incompetent boss and the butt of jokes. of all He can be related to because we all know him: the man who won’t deal with his problems and will instead take his frustration out on his wife.

That adds a haunting element to the movie. Vijay Varma puts his soul into portraying the reprehensible character, but viewers also feel sympathy when Badru and Shamshu turn the tables to torture him in retribution.

Rosha Matthew, as co-conspirator, does her part well, and Vijay Maurya, playing an overly intelligent police officer trying to break the bond between mother and daughter, makes a lasting impression. His manner is pompous and he believes that he sees through everything. But he is easily fooled by the mother-daughter duo.

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the universe of revenge

The Indian film industry has seen brilliant versions of patriarchy in movies like great indian cuisine (2021) and Thappad (2022). dear is an addition to this brand of film, taking an incisive look at the layers of the problem when divided by caste, class and religion.

When the going gets tough, Badru and Shamshu decide to turn Hamza on its head.

It’s both comical and cathartic to see Hamza get a taste of his own medicine. Shamshu’s casual suggestion to use poison to kill Hamza and the interrogation scene at the police station, now the stuff of multiple memes, reflect some great screenwriting and talent.

You never forget the horrible treatment of Badru by Hamza. But you also marvel at his refusal to duck into a corner. dear shows how abuse is never just physical. The psychological control that a person has over a victim is much stronger, which can be very triggering for some viewers. But dear no disrespect to any victim of abuse, unlike what a lot of people were talking about recently on Twitter.

The film is also about female solidarity: the determination to survive. Shamshu and Badru’s relationship is the highlight of the glowing film.

Netflix hasn’t managed to make many inroads into desi content and is also losing audience. dear it could be a step in the right direction to regain its foothold in India.

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