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5 reasons why Darlings is a must-watch Alia Bhatt movie

I once prided in calling myself a Bollywood buff. No matter what inanely painful stuff the Khans came up with it was my moral duty to suffer it in a theatre. I could never imagine missing out on a Salman Khan movie (I once dragged my mother to the movie hall to watch Khamoshi with only a handful of people for company). Later, it was Hrithik’s eyes, Sushant’s smile, and Tiger’s abs that seemed to lure me in. However, with the pandemic and multiple OTT subscriptions my inclination toward Bollywood has taken a downward dive. The last three movies I’ve watched on the big screen were all dubbed ones. Occasionally though something comes along that reclaims your faith in this industry that often leaves a lot to be desired. For me, it was Darlings, a dark comedy about marital abuse, broken hearts, and hammered souls.

Let me give a brief story idea of Darlings for the uninitiated. Badrunissa or Badru (beautifully portrayed by Alia Bhatt) is the protagonist and instantly touches your heart with her vulnerability. Badru is married for three years and lives in a dilapidated Mumbai chawl with her alcoholic husband Hamza (Vijay Varma) who routinely beats her black and blue. Her mother Shamshunissa or Shamshu (played by the awesome Shefali Shah) lives nearby and repeatedly tries to convince her to walk away from the marriage but to no avail. Zulfi (cutie Roshan Matthew) does odd jobs around the chawl and knows everything about them. Many threats, a police complaint, and a miscarriage caused by Hamza later, Darlings Badru finally sees red and vouches to make him go through the hell she did, at his hands. That’s when the movie actually picks up and moves at bullet speed.

5 reasons why Darlings is a must-watch Alia Bhatt movie_avibrantpalette

5 reasons why Darlings is a must-watch Alia Bhatt movie

Badru’s portrayal – If you see Alia’s first movie Student of the Year and then arrive at this, you can’t help but marvel at the maturity she has brought in her acting and characterization. Her deglam avatar is a far cry from the excessively groomed look she customarily flaunts with the best international designer labels. Her accent and body language are perfect to the T. And her eyes, oh how they speak! You feel every emotion she feels and sometimes simply want to shake her wildly to wake her up or beat some sense into her.

Misplaced idea of love – Badru faces mental, emotional, and physical torture because she believes that Hamza loves her and will someday mend his ways. What’s more, she cares for him dearly while being wrapped in self-loathing and bandages. This silly belief is one of the reasons why women remain in unhappy marriages. Love doesn’t allow anyone to disrespect or hurt you and Darlings in a brilliant and starkly odd way puts this point across. Alia truly shines when this reality dawns upon her.

Cold-hearted revenge – Darlings might’ve gone a bit overboard in the scheming and revenge part, but hey, truth is stranger than fiction and worse things are known to happen. Badru and Shamshu hatch a great plan and manage to get away with it proving that an injured woman is a like a tigress on the prowl. Also, in dire situations, one cannot wait to let the law take its course. Wrong as it may, protect yourself when no one else will. Hats off to Alia and Shefali for their amazing chemistry!

Well-kept secrets – Every experience in life, good or bad, leaves a mark on our existence. Shamshu’s character, while being upfront and vocal, has many layers that are visible only if observed closely. Badru’s retaliations that Hamza isn’t like her father leave Shamshu speechless although she’s a battered but protective mother. As a mother, I felt heartbroken since our children’s pain hurts us more deeply. A few unexpected revelations later though, I was as shocked as Badru was. Alia killed that scene without uttering a single word.

Fly away, the sky is yours! – I was curious to know how the movie ends and if there’ll be any frustrating loose ends left to interpretation. Thankfully, there were not. Badru couldn’t continue with this relationship, she just couldn’t. On the other hand, Hamza wouldn’t let her move on either. Not giving spoilers but the climax of Darlings pleased me. That smile on Badru’s face as she watches a movie was well-deserved.

Darlings reminds you of the Bollywood of the 70s when simple movies like Katha, Kisise na Kehna, Khoobsurat, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, etc concentrated on content and characterization. It shows the reality of underprivileged dependent women who don’t have the courage to access or utilise the laws that are made for them. It’s however a matter of perspective and empowerment. I’m not an Alia Bhatt fan but this movie sure made me sit up and take notice of her raw talent. I’m sure there’s a lot we’re yet to see from her. Do watch it if you haven’t yet and share your comments with me if you have.

*You can watch Darlings on Netflix. It is also showing on television now so keep an eye out for it.

This blog post is part of the Women’s Day Blog Hop, themed on She: A Tribute to Her, hosted by Swarnali Nath

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with Mads’ Cookhouse.

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45 thoughts on “5 reasons why Darlings is a must-watch Alia Bhatt movie

  1. I haven’t watched it yet but heard a lot about it. I like Alia Bhatt acting. Shefali Chhaya is one fine actress who plays every role with so much of dedication. Btw I also liked Sushant’s innocent and pure smile. Really wished we could have watched more of his movies.

  2. I am yet to watch Darlings. The way you have analyzed the web series it’s showing your efforts, observation and research behind this well-crafted blog post. Kudos to you, Varsha. Thanks for joining the blog hop. It means a lot. Much gratitude.

  3. I had started watched this movie but somehow could not complete it. yes, the plot is intriguing and all characters have played their role with great efforts. I am also not a Alia bhatt fan but her acting is incredible in this movie. will surly watch it till end, now. your post has made me curious to know further happenings.

  4. I loved Darlings too and would like to add one more reason to your well-put and justified ones.
    6. Breaks relationship stereotypes: Shamshu and Zulfi. (won’t say anything more to avoid spoilers)
    Loved your review and take on the movie and hello fellow cinephile (Hi5s)
    A great post, Varsha.

  5. Wonderful comparison to Darlings, Varsha. Alia did a grey job and Shefali was the perfect foil for her. The other day I heard Ranbir say that he wants his daughter, Raha to be like him and not like Alia as she is too loud and talks topo much. There is a 11 year difference between them but. I didnt expect Ranbir to make such misogynistic remarks. Hope Alia stands up in real life too as she did in Darlings.

  6. Darlings was one of my favourite movies from last year. I think Alia totally rocked the role. She has certainly grown as an actor by leaps and bounds and I think it surprises the audience more because her image is of a High society, desinger label wearing SoBo girl.

  7. I haven’t watched Darlings yet but reading your review, I might give it a watch. Quite true about women continuing in mad marriages with a hope that the husband will mend his ways.

  8. I really wanted to watch this, but could not find time. After reading your view, i now cant wait for a second. Its very true were you mentioned that women stay in unhappy marriages just because they feel differently towards their husbands on the fact they love hem and will be a better person someday . I feel this is going to set examples too for many.

  9. I have watched Darlings, and agree with your review. Kudos to Alia and Shefali Chhaya. Both did an excellent job. I liked the second half best compare to fist half.

  10. I had gotten mixed reviews for this one so haven’t watched it yet… after reading yours, its in my watchlist now. And Varsha like you, I too don’t fancy big banner bollywood movies anymore and the biggest reason is OTT… I love their content and reality.

  11. A beautiful summary of a fabulous movie. I loved DARLINGS and all the characters and their performances were so real. Alia, Stefani and Vijay have acted brilliantly and the movie highlights an important issue such as marital abuse in a fine and strong manner.

  12. Your review is very nice, at least more than enough for me to decide to watch Darlings. Well OTT platform is the phase running, wonder what will be next, this had gain more popularity during the Corona and definitely im thinking something else will come up.

  13. Since the Pandemic, we’ve since had a new appreciation when it comes to Indian movies. This seems like a great one and have a great story into it. The summary made me want to watch it! Interesting indeed!

  14. Your review is up to date with emotions, feelings and acting. I am a fan of Allia Bhatt and just for her I saw this movie. I liked it. Though the content is look like 70s but today also many women face the same issue. I like Badrunisa the way Alia portrait her.

  15. I am definitely watching the movie now, I like the overall premise of the story and the message it imparts. I think Alia is doing great with diverse characters in her movies now – Raazi, Gangubai Khatiawada, Highway etc. thanks for sharing the review, Varsha.

  16. I have heard a lot about Darlings. Shefali is a brilliant actress. Although I don’t see these kinds of revenge dramas I will surely watch it after reading your review.

  17. I heard a lot about this movie and the trailers that I watched so far proved the fact that this movie is something different from the rest stories made as Bollywood features. I am yet to watch the movie due to some personal reasons but once I reach back home I assure to watch it for sure and the Reason is you. The way you crafted the summary of the movie it gave me the needed kick to act and watch the movie soon. I witnessed the growth of Alia as an actor in last few years time and I agree to the fact that she matured beautifully as an actor and that is one of the reasons for which I will definitely watch this movie. Honestly in recent time some quality movies are coming up which are winning the hearts of audience with right sentiment and emotion. Thanks Varsha for this wonderfully crafted feature on Darlings and wish to read many more from you.

  18. I loved the movie. In this movie we see how women struggled , fight for their existance and how they believe in each other . Aliya and her mother acted so good and the way they trust on each other it’s commandable. Loved this review and I could not agree more with the points you mentioned.

  19. Your review is excellent, with minute details about the characters and acting skills. Although I am not a fan of Alia Bhatt, her performance in this film is outstanding. Your post has piqued my interest in what happens next. Will surely going to watch it next week.

  20. I really love the way you have verbalised the pain of Khan movies 😂 I used to be a movie buff too, but that’s before marriage 😂 I feel Alia has great potential. Would love to watch this movie of hers .

  21. I have not watched this movie yet but read raving reviews. This is one of the finest take on the movie. With Alia Bhat and Shefali Shah both powerful actress stealing the show I can imagine how entertaining and watchable it can be. Kudos for featuring it.

  22. This was a lovely, different movie from Bollywood and I’m glad it focused on screenplay instead of trying to just be an average crowd pleaser. Loved your take on it.

  23. I have been seeing Darlings pop up on my Netflix recommendation several times and I’ve been seeing rave reviews. Thanks to this bloghop and you for picking this topic, I didn’t know it had so many layers to it. I have loved how Alia Bhatt grew as an actress and been a fan of Shefali since Delhi crimes and Ajeeb Dastans. Now I NEED to see their chemistry!

  24. After reading your blog, darlings is going to be on the hit list of my next weekend watch items. Your review intrigued me into watching it sooner rather than later. Congratulations on writing this fantastic review about the film and its characters, you are truly a film reviewer in the making!

  25. I enjoyed this movie especially Shefali Shah in it- I feel like it is a great film to help women realize -please do not settle and always work towards your own happiness and growth!

  26. I haven’t watched it though it is on my to- watch list for a long time! Your detailed review has left me intrigued and now I can’t wait to watch it . I had loved Alia in Raazi and that movie made me believe that she can take on movies on her shoulder with just her acting nuances . It was refreshing to read your blog post , V . Thanks for this recommendation.

  27. I loved the film not just for the topic it chose but the way it was executed. But watching how this got labelled by MRA community as a glorification of martial abuse by women on men was a circus I didn’t sign up from. Thanks for sharing your keen insights on this thoroughly enjoyable movie. i agree it’s a must-watch.

  28. Oh, YES! this is the movie every female must watch. A perfect example of uplifting each other and how only a mom can understand the issues in daughters life. Love your post on why we must take this as an example.

  29. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Darlings too, Varsha. All the performances were brilliant. For a debut as a producer, Alia Bhatt has aced it with an unusual movie. We need more such refreshing movies in the industry, that’s not your regular Bollywood fare.

  30. Brilliant way to narrate every aspect of the movie darling from the plot, characters, and secrets and that too without spoiling the climax, kudos girl. I couldn’t agree more on it varsha. The maturity in Alia Bhatt’s acting has reached to another level from where she started. I am a big fan of Alia’s acting skill.

  31. I am a movie nerd too! And I can relate to your love for movies! P.S after your review I’m definitely watching this series! Thank you for such an amazing blog!

  32. I also watched Darlings and your review is a brilliant piece capturing all the minor details. Now everyone would like to watch this one after your review. And yes, Alia Bhatt has matured a lot in her acting skills these days.

  33. I have not seen the movie, your review is pretty detailed around the female characters with multiple layers of observations – has created an intriguing premise for readers to watch it.

  34. I truly agree with your write-up Varsha. Darlings is a movie worth appreciating not only for the acting but also for the storyline. The way it addresses the gaslighting issue, physical abuse, mental trauma is so real and one can actually feel the wrath building up for Hamsa. I also love the ending that actually gives out a subtle yet powerful message saying love has no age is well shot and commendable. Overall, this movie resonates with women upliftment and empowerment really well.

  35. Darlings is made with so much thought and ypu have analysed it perfectly. It is the society who has to read between the lines from the movie.

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