Jasmeet K Reen
Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah, Vijay Varma, Roshan Mathew
What’s The Story
Set against the backdrop of a conservative lower-middle-class neighbourhood in Mumbai, the story explores the lives of a quirky mother-daughter duo (Shefali Shah and Alia Bhatt), who while navigating through exceptional circumstances, find courage and love as they try to find their place in the world. Will the two be able to attain freedom amidst all odds of society? Well, you’ll have to watch the film to find out.
Vijay Varma Steals The Show, Alia Bhatt Is A Close Second
Vijay Varma comes up with another stellar performance. He is menacing, terrorizing and every move of his will keep you guessing as to what he is going to do next. Not just the dialect but even the body language of the character has been brilliantly picked up by Varma. There are scenes where he is stuck in a chair, and even in those scenes, you will be looking only at Varma despite the fact that there are others in the scene talking. He has managed to even make those scenes interesting.
Needless to say that Alia Bhatt has once again given an applause-worthy performance. One look at the character and you might feel that it’s a continuation of her character in ‘Gully Boy’, but in the next few minutes, you’re made to realise that the two characters are as different as chalk and cheese. Bhatt has managed to mould herself into a very submissive wife’s character, but as the film enters the second hour, she drastically transforms. Being the producer of the film, she definitely has picked up a great character for her own self, something that generations to come would be proud to see her in.
Shefali Shah is the backbone of the story. She brings the story much-needed stability. It gets to a point where you’re left wondering how can she be such cold-blooded in her mannerisms, but that’s the brilliance of Shah’s performance. Within a split second, she changes her expressions from being the caring and loving mother for Bhatt to being the fierce and uncompromising mother-in-law for Varma.
Last but not the least, Roshan Mathew - what a delight to watch onscreen! He may have had the least amount of screen space among the four leads but his mannerisms and quirks make for a brilliant performance. His character seems so mysterious yet so interesting that his character itself could be a separate spin-off from ‘Darlings’.
The direction by Jasmeet K. Reen is good considering that she attempted to make a dark comedy. It’s one of the toughest genres to crack and she has managed to bring out a decent presentation. She has tried not to get into too many intricacies and therefore kept the storytelling pretty simple for everyone to understand. The way in which she has detailed the scenes of domestic abuse or even the lead-up to it makes for a worthy mention of her talent.
The music of the film is so situational that you’re actually wanting to hear every word that’s being said in the lyrics. Not many music composers can do that with their songs. Thankfully the baton was with a master of the genre Vishal Bhardwaj, who manages to come up with songs like La Ilaaj, Bhasad, Pleaj which you might not remember after the film gets over, but you will thoroughly enjoy while it’s playing out onscreen.
The legendary Anil Mehta’s cinematography manages to paint for you a picture of Mumbai that is miles away from the glam-sham that people in small towns associate Mumbai with. The darker side of the Mumbai underbelly has been depicted so minutely onscreen that you will fall in love with every nook and corner of the same. The efforts lie in the details and despite being shot in chawls and low-light areas none of the scenes looks dark or out-of-place.
Nitin Baid’s editing manages to keep the film crisp and doesn’t allow the viewer to wander a lot here and there.
An honourable mention for Vijay Maurya who comes up with such a brilliant performance as the police inspector in just a small minute role. Being the dialogue writer of the film, he has managed to keep a great chuck on good one-liners for himself.
No Humour In A Dark Comedy
Parveez Sheikh and Jasmeet K. Reen’s writing is the only soft spot in this film. And it’s a big soft spot considering that it defines the genre of the film that you’re attempting to make. It cannot be looked over. When you’re attempting a dark comedy, you’re supposed to have comical situations which are sadistically funny for the viewer and abjectly tragic for the character in the film. Sadly, that emotion doesn’t end up coming through in the writing. Considering this was a satire on the entire domestic violence angle, the humour in the satire should have been presented much stronger.
‘Darlings’ rides heavily on the brilliant performances of the cast. Thereby causing a slightly weaker script to go unnoticed. Vijay Varma takes the cake and stands tall with a stalwart performance. The only fallacy in the movie was the missing humour which needed to be strewn all over with pinches of satire. Even without that, it’s still a great One-Time Watch. I am going with 3.5 stars.