Darlings review: Dark comedy commentary on domestic violence is a breath of fresh air

Darlings revolves around Badru, who is regularly beaten up by her husband Hamza after he gets drunk. The film is now streaming on Netflix.

Story

After Badru (Alia Bhatt) and Hamza (Vijay Varma) get married, she plans milestones in their life, right from the first baby to a four-wheeler.

But the truth of their marriage is much darker. Hamza is an alcoholic and whenever he gets angry while drunk, he beats Badru up.

The following morning, he shows up sober and sweetly apologises to her, and she somehow always forgives him.

Her mother, Shamshu (Shefali Shah), is fed up with the violence and keeps requesting her to leave him and return to her house but to no avail.

Zulfi (Roshan Mathew), who is helping Shamshu with her catering business, files a complaint against Hamza for domestic violence.

The narrative takes a wild turn that sees Badru taking revenge by tying him up and giving him a taste of his own medicine. But does she escape him for good?

Performances

The cast is already terrific on paper, and that smoothly transitions to the screen as well. Alia Bhatt displays the prowess viewers have come to expect from her by now.

She captures the naivety, and later spite, of Badru perfectly. Not usually seen in humorous roles, her comic timing is impeccable in this one.

Shefali Shah matches her step for step as her mother, Shamshu. Their conversations are often absurd and humorous, ranging from regular banter to plans of murder.

Vijay Varma is excellent as well. He transforms from the monstrous version of Hamza to the sweet one in the blink of an eye. 

While Roshan Mathew, as Zulfi, does not have the same screen time as others, he shines as the well-meaning simpleton who gets dragged into the mess.

Positives

Director Jasmeet K Reen expertly weaves humour and suspense into the narrative set in a humble neighbourhood. The characters feel real, even though their actions might not.

The route of dark comedy to comment on the issue of domestic violence is a bold one but ultimately reaches the desired destination.

The premise feels fresh as well mainly due to the comical aspect. Badru and Shamshu’s dialogues are quite humorous in a number of instances, especially in the second half of the film.

Darlings holds your attention throughout. The narrative is mainly around the four characters and the writing is crisp enough to never let it drag.

While it may seem like a revenge story on surface, the message of non-violence shines through by the end of it.

Negatives

A bit of background on Badru and Shamshu’s past could have helped the viewers understand the characters better from the start. The narrative can also get predictable at times.

Verdict

Darlings is easily one of the best streaming original films made in India, which have generally lacked quality over recent years. Watch it for sharp writing, meticulous direction and competent performances.

Rating: 4/5


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