Alia Bhatt is an actress who consistently delivers outstanding performances, as seen in films like Raazi. Her latest film, “Darlings,” now streaming on Netflix, continues this trend, showcasing her exceptional talent.

“Darlings” tackles a theme that was prevalent in Indian cinema of earlier decades but remains crucially relevant today: domestic abuse. The film portrays the harrowing reality of a woman suffering abuse at the hands of her husband, all in the name of love. The narrative is both heartbreaking and thought-provoking, shedding light on a disturbing aspect of society that many still face.

The story begins in the cramped quarters of Mumbai, where we are introduced to Hamza, a Railway Inspector, and his wife Badru. Despite being educated, Badru endures relentless mental and physical abuse from Hamza, who is also well-educated. The film does an excellent job of making the audience root for Badru and despise Hamza from the very beginning. This success is largely due to Vijay Varma‘s brilliant portrayal of Hamza. A film is only as strong as its antagonist, and Varma’s performance ensures that Hamza is convincingly despicable.

Alia Bhatt as Badru and Shefali Shah as her mother deliver stellar performances. Bhatt captures the pain and resilience of a woman trapped in an abusive marriage, while Shah adds depth to the narrative with her portrayal of a mother trying to protect her daughter. Roshan Mathew also excels in his role, bringing a nuanced performance to his interactions with Shah’s character.

The first half of “Darlings” is gripping and realistic, pulling the audience into the everyday horrors faced by Badru. However, the second half of the film falters. It falls into repetitive storytelling and loses the realism that made the first half so compelling. As the climax unfolds, we find ourselves drained and wondering why we had to witness such repetitive trials to reach this conclusion.

Despite its flaws, “Darlings” is worth watching for the powerful performances by the lead actors. Alia Bhatt and Vijay Varma, in particular, elevate the film, making it a memorable experience. At Mangoidiots, we rate “Darlings” as a Raw, acknowledging the exceptional acting even as we note the film’s narrative shortcomings.

Darlings (2023)

Darlings (2023)

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