Film Review: Darlings (2022)

Badrunnisa (Alia Bhatt) and Hamza Shaikh (Vijay Varma) are young lovers. On one of their dates, Hamza surprises her that he is getting the job and will marry her soon. After three years of marriage, Hamza is addicted to drinking which makes him a wife-beater.

Darlings is one of those millions of brown society marital stories where the couples try their best to stretch the bond in the early years of marriage and also believe that once their munna (baby) arrives in this world, he or she will become the blessing and the fights will decrease. And the couples will spend quality time. Alas, the alcohol is strong enough to intoxicate and destroy the marriage.

I am not sure whose idea was it but I opine that Darlings has missed their chance to address a highly sensitive social, domestic, and marital concern – domestic abuse. Instead of utilizing the plot and using the best source of Aliya, Vijay, and Shefali, and nailing a staunch reality into a significant family drama, the makers chose to make Darlings a dramedy.

Most of the methods of cinematic appeal for Darlings is senseless and clueless. The continuity of the screenplay raises a lot of hows and whys. Unimpressive direction proves that the debutant director Jasmeet K Reen is a complete novice.


MINUSES

Let me write you a few of my bullet disagreements:

1. UNDEVELOPED PROCEEDINGS

In scene 1, Hamza breaks the news to Badru about his job and marriage, and hugs. In scene 2, three years later, Hamza beats Badru for a bad dinner. I get it, the makers wanted to send a chill in the audience with this shocking development but where is the impact?

The audience missed three years of unwanted marital decline that caused the downfall of the marriage. Hence, the development of the central characters, their chemistry, and the entire fallout of marital respect that fluctuates between love and rage is absent which makes the proceedings flat. For this factor, I understand that television dramas play a vital role but the films can still highlight a few minutes of my objection above and justify the screenplay.

2. DRAMEDY???

A subject so crucial and sensitive is taken too lightly and irresponsibly that compromises realism. After the death of the child, how can there ever possibly be comedy at all? All the sequences with the police and police station were utter nonsense. The art of lying in Indian films is the fakest of all fakes that I have never understood. And Darlings maintains the tradition of the characters lying to the other and the latter buying it.

3. WHERE IS THE DOMESTIC ABUSE???

A film based on domestic abuse doesn’t have enough much intensity to dramatize the marital violence besides that shocking scene where Hamza lets Badru fall resulting in a miscarriage. On a few occasions, when Hamza is about to beat Badru, the scene shifts towards the salon where the salon lady routinely hears the screaming. Why not dramatize violence and make the audience cold? When Hamza breaks Badru’s finger with a high-heel sandal, the scene doesn’t show the hit but we listen to the cracking sound.

4. PLOTHOLES

In almost every couple of scenes, there is a plothole. Darlings is a directional disaster where most of the scenes raise questions and make no sense. How come not a single neighbor wakes up or shows up spectating Hamza throwing Badru out of the house late at night? How come the hospital didn’t report to the police the domestic violence that resulted in miscarriage. Section 312 in the Indian Penal Code imprisons such for a minimum of three years, and perhaps with a fine also. Why do the mother and daughter plan to torture Hamza for killing the child instead of making a police case against him as they were intending to do earlier until Badru gave him a chance? Why is Zulfi speaking in sign language and making the mother and daughter guess where Hamza is when the police squad is not with them? Again, how come no one spectates in the society that not one but three people are trying to throw Hamza from the terrace?


PLUSES

If there are pluses, that lies only in the performances. Let me brief you on those:

1. ALIA BHATT

The central casting is Darlings’ positive frame. Alia Bhatt’s performance shuts every possible disagreement that she cannot perform. Those who encourage boycotting films because Alia features are fooling themselves. Her existence and presence in the film are one of the major reasons why at 29, she can run the business of her films on her own despite Bollywood being a typical male-oriented film industry. Her emotional fallouts and dramatizing pain and disappointment are always spot on.

2. SHEFALI SHAH

A versatile actress like Shefali knows what true dedication is portraying an important character. Even in her comic stance, Shefali as Badru’s mother makes you forget for a moment that some of her scenes were funny but her funny performance converted into awkwardness while applying method acting. Out of nowhere, she tells the story of a frog and a scorpion. Asks Hamza to keep hitting his head on the wall. But she goes to another parallel when Hamza hits her or when she confesses.

3. VIJAY VARMA

The biggest responsibility of the antagonist is to create hatred for himself/herself and Vijay as Hamza does that. His physical presence is a piece of genuinely bad news for both mother and daughter. And his mental breakdown gives you a precise idea about a violent husband. It was an excellent performance.


CLOSING REMARKS

Darlings surprisingly has met immense respect from the critics and the audience. They all are entitled to their opinion. I firmly believe that Darlings has missed the chance of portraying realism about domestic abuse with a distinction that held a lot of promises due to its quality casting.

RATINGS = 4/10