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Darlings Is The Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani Of Domestic Violence In A Marriage, But With A Twist

Alia and Shafali Shah's film Darlings is a journey of resisting and flouting patriarchy in the process of achieving individuality.

Trigger Warning: This deals with domestic violence and may be triggering to survivors.

Darling is a word which is used affectionately to address one’s beloved while they are in love with each other. Badru was called darling by her abusive and alcoholic husband Humza while she was head over heels in love with him and owed blind allegiance to him enduring all domestic abuse he hurled upon her. However as the film progresses we see Badru’s metamorphosis and how she becomes her own darling by realizing that she is worthy of love and respect, which she has to herself shower upon her.

*Few Spoilers Alert

A picture of classic domestic violence

Suffer, Survive and Sacrifice are three things the construct of patriarchal society expect from women.

Naive Badru conforms to such norms initially, even though her mother Shamshunissa repeatedly tries to enlighten her to rise and raise her voice against her husband. But Badru at that time was unaware of the concept of individual identity, and therefore she goes out of her way to defend her husband, who cajoles her how much he loves her every morning after thrashing her every night.

Badru lives in an illusion, and is easily persuaded by the sugar coated words of her husband that one day he will come clean leaving alcohol after their child is born. Eventually she realizes that it’s all a pretence, and it’s a never ending cycle in which she is trapped as a prey of her predator husband.

A mother-daughter team

Motherhood is an agent that often plays a vital role in the empowerment of women. For Badru the death of her daughter in the hands of her abusive husband brings about a transformation in her. It leads to the rebirth of a new Badru who is fierce and vengeful and won’t resist anymore. Along with her mother, she seeks justice for the inhuman treatment meted out to her by devising ways to punish her husband and earn respect for herself.

The mother who already detested her daughter’s toxic marriage, and the newly self-awakened daughter are together indeed successful in executing their plan along with the help of their accomplice Zulfi. But amidst this chaos we also see how both the women attain financial self-sufficiency by gradually establishing their food delivery business.

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The story of Darlings isn’t new; it’s the everyday story of many Indian houses where men wield their hegemonic power of patriarchy over the women of their homes. Yet what makes Darlings extraordinary is the way these two women Shamsu and Badru stand for each other and triumph over all the battles beset on their path together.

Unlike Amrita’s mother in Thappad who convinces her daughter to return back to her abusive husband, Shamsu herself being a victim of a broken marriage, tries to convince her daughter to free herself from the shackles of her barbaric husband. Initially she fails, but eventually she is successful in making Badru realize that she has an identity apart from the identity her marriage vested upon her.

The opening and the ending of the film shows the contrast

While in the opening scene we see Badru getting tired of waiting for her lover and would be husband Humza outside the cinema hall, as she can’t afford to watch the film alone without his company (symbolizing her dependency on her husband), the ending scene depicts Badru going to the cinema hall and enjoying the film all by herself, which symbolizes Badru’s evolution into an independent woman who is now capable of conquering the whole world.

The film therefore has a circular narrative where the entire focus is on Badru throughout the narrative depicting her journey of emotional growth (individuality) that indeed is inspiring for all the subdued women across the country to bravely flout the patriarchy engulfing them and rise.

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About the Author

Srilekha Mitra

A full time overthinker and a part time writer. Words are my antidote on bad days. I prefer to bask in fictional world of cinema than reality. Food and music are my refuge on gloomy read more...

21 Posts | 20,115 Views

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