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At one point, she confesses to her mother that the beatings are no longer physical, they have started affecting her mentally as well, and she wants to break free of this cycle of abuse.
Trigger Warning: This deals with domestic violence and may be triggering for survivors.
I recently watched Darlings on Netflix. It’s a quirky, dark satire featuring the dynamite duo of Alia Bhatt and Shefali Shah. The movie depicts domestic violence and the psychology of abuse.
Even though the subject matter is dark, there are light moments and humour, which make it immensely watchable. It stands out for its powerhouse performances and unique storyline.
These are the ten stereotypes that this movie demolishes.
Badru (Alia) hopes that her abusive husband Hamza will transform. She endures his blows and sports black and blue bruises silently. She wishes, prays, and waits for her husband to reform. After all, he loves her, doesn’t he? Theirs was a love marriage, and in every marriage aren’t there problems?
No, abusers don’t change overnight. If he did this to you when he claims he loves you, what would he do to you if he decided he didn’t love you anymore? Badru learns this the hard way.
Badru keeps telling herself that it’s the alcohol making her husband act violently. She believes Hamza is a good man, who turns into the devil when drunk. She goes to the extent of mixing deaddiction pills into his food to rid him of his ‘vice’, but with no success.
In the end, she realizes that the problem is not alcohol; it is Hamza himself.
Badru believes that having a baby will solve her problems and her abuse will stop. Hamza promises he will not touch alcohol once she conceives. She does get pregnant, and for a while, her husband seems to have reformed. Sadly, he snaps and assaults her again, even while sober. Badru realizes her folly, but a tad too late, and has to deal with consequences.
How many times have women in toxic relationships heard “Bacha Kar Lo, Sab Theek Ho Jayega. (Have a baby, and everything will be alright)”
A baby should be brought into this world only if the environment at home is safe. Full Stop.
The bond between Badru and her mother is very touching. Shamshu (Shefali), unlike other mothers, remains supportive of her daughter and urges her to leave Hamza. Deep down, she knows the trials and tribulations of a single mother, yet she would rather see her only daughter happy.
But Badru has been conditioned by society that her happiness lies with her husband, and is hesitant to break free.
Divorce needs to be normalized so that survivors of abusive relationships dare to move on.
The acts of violence that Hamza perpetrates are not a private secret. Everyone is aware of Badru’s screams, her scars, and her suffering. Yet they shrug it off; be it the make-up artist downstairs, the neighbours, or the men at the dispensary.
The kind of apathy and indifference projected is shocking. Why interfere in a private matter between husband and wife?
It is Zulfi, their family friend who finally musters the courage to file a complaint because he can no longer bear to see the women he cares for, suffer.
For years, Badru endures Hamza’s blows, and the relationship goes through the classic cycle of domestic violence.
The reasons as to why Hamza beats up Badru are as flimsy as- the food wasn’t properly cooked, or that she went out without his permission. Badru gets beaten at night and wakes up the next day to make an omelet for Hamza, as though nothing happened. He is apologetic for his behavior and charms her into forgetting his transgressions. She keeps forgiving him and telling herself that she will let it go.
And her mother encourages her to walk out. No, its never too late!
At the police station, the policeman sympathizes with Badru and Shamshu who have come to file a complaint. But when Badru undergoes a change of heart, and withdraws her complaint against Hamza, the policeman shrugs nonchalantly, muttering that all women are the same, and accuses them of allowing themselves to be trampled. Similarly, the pharmacists shake their heads sympathetically, while handing Badru her regular prescription of ointment to treat her bruises. No one dares to speak up against the perpetrator.
Pity alone is not sufficient. Abuse victims need courage and support. They need people to tell them what the legal avenues of action are, and that they are not alone in this fight.
In a refreshing twist, Zulfi’s love interest is not Badru, but Shamshu, who is much older than him. When Badru witnesses affection between the two, she doesn’t judge her mother. She encourages her to follow her heart, saying that this time her choice is a good one, better than the choice that she herself made.
It was interesting to see the mature portrayal of such a relationship on screen.
In the second half, Badru decides that enough is enough. She steps up, and the hunter becomes the hunted. She gives Hamza a taste of his own medicine, by abusing him in the same way he did to her. She only wants him to treat her with respect, a respect he never gives.
Finally, Badru realizes that she doesn’t want to transform into a biting scorpion; that would make her no different from her abusive spouse. Walking away from him, she is finally free, with her head held high, ready to step out, alone and independent into the world.
At the end, Badri not only survives but flourishes. She is last seen traveling on her scooter and watching a movie by herself. She looks happy and content.
This is her catharsis, her moment of liberation that comes after years of being a helpless dependent.
Much power to the Badrus of the world who have walked away from abusive relationships and have survived to tell the tale.
Lalitha is a blogger and a dreamer. Her career is in finance, but writing is her way to unwind! Her little one is the center of her Universe. read more...
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