“It’s a story of love between two Muslims – but also of violence and revenge”, write it BBC about indian movie Darlings, released on Netflix in early August. The feature film begins with two lovers who decide to marry: Badrunissa, played by Bollywood star Alia Bhatt, and Hamza, played by Vijay Varma. But their story is not a fairy tale. “Three years after their nuptials, the couple have moved into a lower-middle-class building in Bombay, but Badrunissa shares their bed with the enemy,” continues the site of the British radio.
He is the archetype of the aggressor. He beats his wife every night and apologizes in the morning. “Yes, I’m a bastard, but I only hit you because I love you”, he launches into the film. She, for her part, lives in denial, she hopes she can find the man before by making him stop drinking, or even by getting pregnant.
leave your husband or kill him
“But when the savagery continues and he finally crosses a red line, the rage takes over and, halfway through the film, the roles are reversed. The victim, with the help of her mother, Shamshunissa (played by Shefali Shah), becomes the aggressor,” warns the BBC. The mother, who has herself suffered domestic violence, and the daughter become accomplices: they kidnap the husband, hold him hostage in his own house and inflict on him the same abuse he used to inflict on his young wife until then. .
“My idea was a mother-daughter duo. They have dreams, but something is wrong: the girl’s marriage isn’t working. And there, the two invent crazy ideas to correct the situation”, explains Jasmeet K. Reen, the director, quoted by the BBC.
“In a series of tragicomic incidents, involving the husband’s workplace, the police, neighbors, [le mari] ends up tied to railroad tracks, about to be run over by a train”, writes the indian daily Hindustan Times.
Laughing is not enough
The film was a big hit in India after it was uploaded to Netflix. For the BBC, this enthusiasm is partly explained because Alia Bhatt is one of the most prominent Bollywood actresses, with very loyal fans. In addition, the feature film is supported by the production house of Indian cinema superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
And the subject of Darlings finds a particular echo in India. In the country, domestic violence is a real scourge. In 2020, the police recorded complaints from more than 112,000 women, or one every five minutes. “Most people accept domestic violence, and have learned to live with it”, Judge Jasmeet K. Reen.
“Some people working in the area of violence against women and domestic violence have been critical of the treatment chosen in the film, suggesting that it trivialized a serious subject”, indicates the Hindustan Times. However, the English-language daily objects:
“The purpose of a black comedy is to bring to light subjects generally considered taboo, especially if they are difficult or painful to discuss.”
Darlings however, does not dwell on the reasons for a systemic problem: male violence. “Do men have to die so that women can live in peace? Can’t men change? asks the newspaper. “When we describe the reality of domestic violence, do we fail to understand its causes? The one hundred and thirty-four minute film could have explored that.” regret it Hindustan Times.