Last name: darlings
Director: Jasmeet K Reen
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Vijay Varma, Shefali Shah and Roshan Mathew
Evaluation: 3.5 / 5
Review of darlings
It’s difficult to make a film that is entertaining but also has a strong message to convey, and despite several attempts in the past, very few filmmakers have managed to achieve this skill. More often than not, these movies end up being preachy or compromising on the entertainment quotient. However, darlings Writer-director Jasmeet K Reen effortlessly pulls off the daunting task. Although it shows off much of the Darlings’ world in the trailer itself, the dark comedy still has a lot to offer in just over two hours. Although at no point does the film feel long, major credit goes to editor Nitin Baid.
The darlings revolve around Badrunissa Sheikh aka Badru (Alia Bhatt), a strong-willed girl who does her best to save her failed or rather failed marriage with her husband Hamza Sheikh (Vijay Varma). However, an unfortunate incident makes this comedy-drama a little darker, forcing Badru and his mother Shamshunissa Sheikh (Shefali Shah) to take matters into their own hands. This Jasmeet K Reen director is a strong statement on domestic violence. This may attract a plethora of opinions on the path the filmmaker has taken to get her point across, but hopefully it will at least get people talking a lot more about the topic.
That’s not all the movie has to offer. It also makes you reflect on topics such as alcoholism and its impact on the family, superstition, manipulation, jealousy, karma, and the impact of parents’ lives and their choices on their children. All of these aspects have been beautifully woven into a story, but almost all presented in an entertaining way. The characters have been drawn well with the right amount of contrast, shades of gray and innocence, making them both real and relatable. Kudos to writers Parveez Sheikh and Jasmeet K Reen for producing a sound script.
Also, the dialogues written by Vijay Maurya, Jasmeet K Reen and Parveez Sheikh stand out. Lines like “Saab Twitter walon ke liye duniya badal gayi hai, humare liye nahin” or the conversation between Inspector Rajaram Tawde (Vijay Maurya) and Shamshunissa Sheikh at the police station work more like a reality check. Cinematographer Anil Mehta’s lens effortlessly brings Darlings’ world to life, while Garima Mathur’s set design stays true to the story. Vishal Bhardwaj and Mellow D’s music has the perfect blend of contemporary charm and a bit of old world charm, but most importantly, it helps drive the narrative forward.
When it comes to performance, there’s probably nothing Alia Bhatt can’t perform on screen, and she’s proven it time and time again with her on-screen outings. Audiences will get to see two very different personalities of her character in the first and second half of the film, both of which are exceptionally played by Alia. Vijay Varma played his role so well that after a while we forget the actor and only look at the character. Roshan Mathew as Zulfi is the real element of surprise in the film, however, for me the real star of Darlings is Shefali Shah.
At one point the character makes a strong statement, the next second it can bring you to tears, and the third a big smile on your face. Really a great performance. Rajesh Sharma as Kasim Kasai has no dialogue but still manages to make his presence felt.
Overall, Darlings remains cohesive even in the second half, and a few highlights periodically sprinkled throughout the script keep you hooked on the narrative. Watch it for the message and the performances.
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