In fact, I was planning to review the Argentinian crime thriller “Recurrence” this week, the third installment in the “Pipa” trilogy after “Perdida” and “Intuition,” and managed to watch all three this weekend. But Netflix got me dirty this time. It released a number of movies and series that I had already seen trailers for and anticipated. So I was forced to stay home all weekend and stare at my TV screen, out of sheer joy.
So, the “Pipa” trilogy gets an aggregate rating of four stars and falls into the must-see category. Also on the must-see list is the Korean action thriller “Carter.” It may not be an amazing movie, but the visuals are mind blowing. With mediocre visual effects, the film’s cinematography and editing will sometimes make you rewind a scene and wonder “How did they do THAT?”
Now coming to my senses of all the wonders currently available on Netflix, I’m revisiting “Darlings” starring Alia Bhatt because it caters to a larger audience and I’ve started to love Bhatt as an actress based on her recent performances.
Darlings is a black comedy co-written and directed by Jasmeet K. Reen and produced by Gauri KhanAlia Bhatt and Gaurav Verma under the banners of Red Chillies Entertainment and Eternal Sunshine Productions.
Actor and co-producer Bhatt plays Badru, a housewife married to Hamza (Vijay Varma). The pair seem happy and in love, but their relationship is strained by Hamza’s drinking habit and abusive nature. Hamza is an alcoholic who routinely inflicts physical abuse on Badru, leading her to believe that he beat her out of love. The gullible Badru buys it and spares Hamza every time.
Badru’s mother, Shamshu (Shefali Shah), on the other hand, knows that Hamza will never change and will continue to abuse her daughter. She time and again she begs Badru to leave her husband, to no avail. But then one day, a disaster in Badru’s life caused by Hamza’s recklessness changes it forever. From an innocent housewife, Badru transforms into a vindictive woman who seeks to restore her self-esteem.
Within this premise, the two female leads, Bhatt and Shah, paint the stage in glorious colors in Darlings. Bhatt is on a successful acting sprint with back-to-back critically acclaimed performances. I don’t understand why he gets unnecessary hate for being from a transparent family. That might have landed her the first role, but after that, the actress has been flawless in her work. In Darlings, she delivers another masterpiece of a performance as Badru.
Shefali Shah finally gets his worth in a movie too. The actress with immense potential and skills has mostly been reduced to playing supporting roles in her career, many of which were forgotten in the grand scheme of things. But in Darlings, she has a strong character and a lot of screen time to show off her skills. Together, the two ladies who play the mother-daughter duo move the story forward in a gentle script that is predictable yet impactful at the same time.
Vijay Verma, who shot to Bollywood fame with the commercial success “Gully Boy,” is holding his own against the ladies. Verma’s Hamza is a vengeful chauvinist, skilled at gaslighting. The actor manages to convince the audience how inherently flawed Hamza is and how much we can loathe him.
Darlings’ writing gives it a multi-layered depth, while the direction captures the minute details of the characters’ lives and surroundings. The cinematography and background music deserve a special mention for not being outstanding. Yes, you heard that write.
Anil Mehta’s cinematography and Prashant Pilla’s background music blend with the characters and settings. This creates a harmony between all things beautiful, despite the darkness of the film.
Who should see it?
Like I said, Darlings caters to a wide group of audiences, from thriller lovers to Alia Bhatt fans. It may not be one of the best Indian thrillers of all time, but it’s definitely top-notch. The way the film unfolds around the two central female characters is something unique and very nice too.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Runtime: 2 hours 13 minutes
Actors: Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah, Vijay Verma
Director: Jasmeet K. Reen