Photo Credit: Alia Bhatt | Instagram
A new show on Netflix is garnering attention thanks to its intriguing narrative. Hindu film “Darlings,” which stars Bollywood megastar Alia Bhatt, tackles domestic violence concerns rather than just providing funny scenes on set.
In the film, Bhatt’s mother instructs her to poison her husband’s food with rat poison to liberate her from a controlling relationship. This is just one of several solutions the character, played by Bhatt, considered to solve her marital issues.
Bhatt thinks the film is outstanding because it bravely confronts a problem that many people encounter while dealing with it head-on. She serves as a co-producer in the film’s production.
“I need to prove a point, as a producer, that I’m not just producing a film for the heck of it. I have not picked this subject because I could. I wanted to. I chose it, and I wanted to tell this story,” Bhatt said to reporters during an interview.
Alia Bhatt and her career
Bhatt’s productions have given her notoriety. The Hollywood actress and producer earned an estimated $7 million in revenue in 2019, landing her a spot on Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 list. She is one of the highest-paid Bollywood performers and a powerful lady listed by Forbes.
The portrayals in Bhatt’s films go beyond the obvious. In fact, societal themes were covered in a large portion of the productions she was in. She starred in the 2016 film “Udta Punjab,” about an abducted migrant worker. The popular film “Gangubai Kathiawadi,” which tells the tale of a woman who is sold into prostitution and subsequently becomes an activist fighting for the rights of others, also features Bhatt.
Bhatt has collaborated with notable female directors throughout her career, including Meghna Gulzar and Zoya Akhtar. With Eternal Sunshine Productions, the 29-year-old movie industry veteran hopes to improve Bollywood’s presence in the larger entertainment sector with “Darlings.”
“I feel — slowly, slowly — from being a very male-dominated room, I (now) see the balance. I see a lot of women. And that’s happened over the last 10 years. I’ve seen the change — and it’s getting to a very juicy, exciting time,” Bhatt explained.
“Darlings” under a scope
Essentially, “Darlings” is the tale of a mother and daughter team. Shamshu and Badru, played by Bhatt and Shefali Shah, respectively, work together to flee the cruelty they experienced at the hands of Badru’s spouse.
Many Indian critics praise the film for its deft handling of the subject and consideration of the actual experiences of women facing the same obstacle. Jasmeet K. Reen, a first-time director, claims that she did not want the violence to be overt in the film’s early scenes since doing so would minimize the problem. Reen took this choice to ensure the viewers would remember the impact of the horrific scene.
The audience could feel the eventual uncanny intent of the film as the violence against the women became increasingly obvious—slowly but agonizingly. It also becomes apparent that the pair is determined to free themselves from the male character’s control.
“It’s not a normal Bollywood film. I tried to play with structure. I tried to play with genre — to say something and be sensitive towards it,” said Reen.
The male-dominated industry
The majority of Indian industries, including Bollywood, are dominated by men, which has a significant impact on who is depicted and how according to clinical associate professor Anwer and Arora of the Purdue University Honors College.
The number of films with female leads and directors has increased, making stories more diverse and opening up new opportunities to explore social issues. According to Bhatt, the present trend is enabling women to speak out on important problems that have historically oppressed them.
Reen stated that now that she has taken a step towards doing so, she hopes more female directors will be forced to make films like “Darlings.”
Opinions expressed by CEO Weekly contributors are their own.