The protagonist of Darlings is a lady who is imprisoned in a violent marriage. Shamshunissa Ansari, or Shamshu (Shefali Shah), is the mother of Badrunissa aka Badru (Alia Bhatt). Her father died a long time ago. Hamza Sheikh (Vijay Varma) and Badru are in a relationship. Hamza makes a marriage proposal after being hired by the railroads. Both get married and move into a flat in Mumbai’s Barha Chawl. Shamshu also has a place to call home in the same chawl, and that too on the same floor.
After three years, it is revealed that Hamza is an alcoholic and a wife beater. At night, he would beat Badru about unimportant issues. He would apologise or show regret for the violence in the morning. Then Badru would pardon him. Shamshu despises witnessing Hamza abuse her daughter. She advises her to get rid of him—and, if possible, to murder him! But Badru thinks he’ll change eventually, and she thinks it might happen once they have a child. He refuses to stop drinking despite her advice to do so.
He learns he has liver cirrhosis one day. He is told by the doctor that drinking could cause his death. Hamza conceals this information from her and presents as having permanently given up drinking on his own. Badru is ecstatic as their lives improve. She conceives a child. Everything is going smoothly until Hamza becomes aggressive again, but this time he is sober, and he assaults Badru so forcefully that she miscarries. She is brought to a hospital. She makes the decision to exact retribution in order to end her suffering. Hence, the story unfolds.
The tale of Jasmeet K. Reen and Parveez Shaikh is inspiring. The screenplay by Jasmeet K. Reen and Parveez Shaikh is quite entertaining. It makes people chuckle while while making a significant point about domestic violence. The writers have also given the characters a lot of depth.
Anil Mehta’s cinematography is fabulous. Director Jasleen makes a smashing debut.
Alia Bhatt is easily the second best thing in the film specially her command in shifting her emotions from comic to dark to pensive – extraordinary. Vijay Verma is the best thing in the film as he repeats his menacing act from ‘Gully Boy’ and ‘She’ with much aplomb as he plays the most difficult and non-sympathetic role in the film. Shefali Shah is decent and so is Roshan Mathews
Prashant Pillai’s background music is a big plus. Despite none of the songs being top-charting hits, music is effectively integrated throughout the movie.
Overall, Darlings is full on entertainment and it’s rare good black comedy from Bollywood. The USP of the film is performances by all the actors and amazing blend of emotion with black comedy. A must watch!