Review of Darlings: A mirror and a reminder in the film starring Alia Bhatt, Vijay Varma, Shefali Shah, and Roshan Mathew
Planning to watch Darlings this weekend? Read the review of this Gauri Khan, Alia Bhatt, and Gaurav Verma production.
Director: Jasmeet K Reen
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Vijay Varma, Shefali Shah and Roshan Mathew
Rating: 3.5 / 5
It’s difficult to make a film that is entertaining but also has a strong message to convey, and despite several attempts in the past, very few filmmakers have been able to achieve this skill. More often than not these movies end up being preachy, or compromise on the entertainment quotient. However, Darlings writer-director Jasmeet K Reen effortlessly manages to execute the mighty task. Despite showing a large part of the Darlings world in the trailer itself, the dark-comedy has still a lot to offer in its little over two hour run time. Though at no point does the film seem lengthy, major credit for it goes to editor Nitin Baid.
Darlings revolve around Badrunissa Sheikh aka Badru (Alia Bhatt), a strong-willed girl who tries her best to save her failing or a rather failed marriage with hubby Hamza Sheikh (Vijay Varma). However, an unfortunate incident makes this comedy-drama a bit darker, forcing Badru and her mother Shamshunissa Sheikh (Shefali Shah) to take things in their own hands. This Jasmeet K Reen directorial is a strong statement on domestic violence. It may attract a plethora of opinions on the route that the filmmaker has chosen to make her point, but hopefully it will atleast get people discussing the subject a lot more.
That’s not all that the film has to offer. It also makes you ponder upon topics like alcoholism and its impact on the family, superstition, manipulations, jealousy, karma, and impact of the parents’ lives and their choices on their kids. All these aspects have been beautifully weaved in a story, but almost all presented in an entertaining manner. Characters have been sketched out well with the right amount of contrast, grey shades, and innocence, which makes them both real and relatable. Kudos to writers Parveez Sheikh and Jasmeet K Reen for churning out a wholesome script.
Furthermore, dialogues penned by Vijay Maurya, Jasmeet K Reen and Parveez Sheikh stand out. Lines like, ‘Saab Twitter walon ke liye duniya badal gayi hai, humare liye nahin’, or the conversation between Inspector Rajaram Tawde (Vijay Maurya) and Shamshunissa Sheikh in the police station works more like a reality check. Cinematographer Anil Mehta’s lens effortlessly brings the world of Darlings alive, while set designing by Garima Mathur stays true to the story. Music by Vishal Bhardwaj and Mellow D has a perfect mix of contemporary and a bit of an old world charm, but most importantly it helps to take the narrative forward.
As far as the performances are concerned, there is probably nothing that Alia Bhatt can’t play onscreen, and she has proved that time and again with her screen outings. The audience will get to see two very different personalities of her character in the first and the second half of the film, both exceptionally performed by Alia. Vijay Varma has played his part so well, that after a point one forgets the actor and only looks at the character. Roshan Mathew as Zulfi is the true surprise element of the film, however, for me the real star of Darlings is Shefali Shah.
At one moment the character makes a strong statement, the next second she can make you cry, and in the third can bring a big smile to your face. Truly a great performance. Rajesh Sharma as Kasim Kasai has no dialogues but still manages to make his presence felt.
Overall, Darlings stays consistent even in the second half, and a few high points scattered periodically in the script keeps you hooked to the narrative. Watch it for the message and the performances.