Bollywood actor Alia Bhatt’s maiden production Darlings was released on Netflix on Friday. The film, starring Bhatt as the protagonist alongside Vijay Varma as Hamza, Shefali Shah as Bhatt’s mother, Shamsu, and Roshan Mathew as Zulfi, revolved around a darker take on domestic violence.
The first reviews of the film are finally out and the Jasmeet K Reen’s directorial has managed to ruffle some feathers. Hindustan Times terms the film as a thoughtful approach to domestic violence albeit its flaws. “In parts, the story does bother you when domestic violence is used as a ploy to trigger laughs — a woman sticking by her husband despite being abused, a man showing no sign of regret or for his actions, silent spectators shown as caricatures,” the publication commented.
“At a time when more progressive and empowering stories are being liked by audiences, Darlings make you sit back and think, ‘Did we really need a film like this to make a point or give a message?’ At times, the film appears to be dealing with the situation at a surface level and does not seem to want to delve deeper into figuring out the psyche of such men, who think domestic violence is normal and just blame it on alcohol,” the review further read.
Talking about the well the actors had donned their parts in the movie, Hindustan Times says that the performances in Darlings take the cake. “Bhatt is in full form; her quirky lines, dialogue delivery, vulnerable expressions and emotional meltdowns help connect with her on a deeper level. In fact, in some portions, she reminded me of Gully Boy’s Safeena,” the review shared. “Playing her onscreen mother is Shah, who delivers a phenomenal performance, and is way more restrained as compared to her recent outings in Humans and Jalsa. Shah is endearing, strong and lends the apt support to Bhatt’s story.”
The Hindu, too, was rather impressed by Bhatt’s well-fleshed-out film. “Dismantling the crutches that help patriarchy saunter into living rooms, Darlings is a quirky social thriller that eventually almost reduces to a well-made public service film on domestic violence. The good thing is director Jasmeet K Reen inadvertently acknowledges the progression before the end credits roll,” The Hindu’s review read. “Darlings says that when it comes to domestic violence, there are no gray areas. It doesn’t allow an abusive husband to fall into the safety net of social conditioning and eating and drinking habits. The creature is born with a sense of entitlement and expresses it when he imagines provocation from the so-called weaker sex.”
Pinkvilla shared that 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 at least get people discussing the subject a lot more,” the outlet observed. “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 the impact on the parents’ lives and their choices on their kids.”
It further elaborated, “All these aspects have been beautifully weaved in a story, but almost all are 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.”
Helmed by debutant director Reen, the music score for the film is composed by filmmaker-composer Vishal Bhardwaj. Darlings, co-produced with Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, marks Bhatt’s second collaboration with King Khan after Dear Zindagi.
Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below.