The Dichotomy of Revenge & Alia Bhatt’s Darlings: A feminist approach
Staying in an abusive relationship and giving an abusive husband continuous chances does not help. The movie Darlings gives a wake-up call to women who believe the contrary, instead encouraging them to leave such relationships rather than create lifelong trauma for themselves.
Darlings is a dark humour about a grim subject. The story revolves around a middle-class Muslim woman, Badru, who is a doting wife and her aspirations are limited to her home, husband Hamza, and a child she desperately wants to have. Hamza on the other hand genuinely loves Badru but is manipulative and deeply insecure, essentially portraying men who feel that they can be abusive and dominating toward their wives. Hamza consistently does terrible things to Badru but always manages to placate her with his oily affection and manoeuvres her emotions with the skills of a puppet master. Badru is trapped even within her own house, living by Hamza’s strict rules.
Badru’s mother, Shamshu, is a ray of hope in her otherwise troubled life. She is Badru’s friend and mentor, who believes that just like a scorpion who can never stop stinging irrespective of the situation, men like Hamza can never change.
The mother-daughter duo
The story takes a huge turn when Badru is about to commit suicide after a miserable miscarriage; she suffers because of Hamza’s violence. Following the heart-wrenching incident, she decides that the time to defend has passed and now she needs to play the offence. The climax plot twists serve as a superb illustration of the story’s self-congratulatory theme when the mother-daughter chooses to exact revenge. The story presents a fresh feminist perspective where a woman who has been constantly abused shuns it and decides to teach her husband a lesson.
Shamshu’s character in the movie is path-breaking in terms of destroying the existing societal notions in the society where the mother of a daughter, is always expected to coax the latter to live with her husband and encourage her to keep working on the relationship, irrespective of its condition. Thereby, perpetuating the notion that only a woman is responsible for weighing the burden of her marriage even if she has been constantly abused in that relationship. Amidst this prevalent problematic understanding, Shamshu’s character is like a breath of fresh air as she encourages her daughter to fight for her self-respect, lodge a complaint against her physically & mentally abusive husband and leave him forever.
The portrayal of sheer reality
As Badru prepares to take revenge on her husband, the movie works as a significant reminder that a marriage per se is not a whirlwind of romance and it all depends on the people who are in it. We see the same through the character of Badru, as she transits from a lost hopeless romantic to a hardened individual seeking revenge.
While Badru and her mother start cooking revenge plans to teach her psychopath husband a lesson, she soon realizes that revenge will serve her nothing and that she doesn’t need Hamza to give her respect and it is something that comes from within. She then chooses to leave Hamza and their toxic relationship forever.
The movie is a portrayal of lakhs of houses where men like Hamza, who look normal in the public domain, actually are monsters who abuse their wives physically, sexually, and mentally as a way to show their dominant side and to satisfy their male ego. Badru primarily shines a light on women who have been gaslighted and conned by the patriarchy into thinking that abuse and love can coexist.
Lakhs of women worldwide experience domestic violence but remain silent in the name of protecting their marriage, a thought process result of prevalent societal notions. However, there has been a paradigm shift in the attitudes of women who have been victims of this crime as they now find the courage to speak out loud about the injustice, trauma, and injuries inflicted upon them.
Thinking that an alcoholic abuser will one day change, and suffering for years hoping for a happily-ever-after is nothing but a pipe dream because a scorpion never stops stinging.