In Netflix’s “Darlings,” Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt discusses domestic violence.

Bollywood superstar Alia Bhatt’s character receives some unexpected marital counsel from her mother in the most recent high-budget Hindi film on Netflix, “Darlings”: “Add some rat poison in his dinner.”The protagonists, who are dealing with an abusive relationship, think about a number of drastic alternatives as they awkwardly try to find a way out. Despite the hilarity in the film’s convoluted premise, the issue it tackles is a grave one.
In Netflix's "Darlings," Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt discusses domestic violence.
“Darlings” gave Bhatt, who also served as the movie’s co-producer, a chance to address domestic abuse head-on.In a video interview with CNN from Mumbai, she stated, “I need to show a point, as a producer, that I’m not just making a film for the heck of it.” “I did not choose this topic simply because I could. I desired to. It was my decision, and I wanted to share this tale.”The Bollywood movie “Laxmii,” according to critics, presents a problematic transgender portrayal.
In Netflix's "Darlings," Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt discusses domestic violence.
Bhatt, who is currently among Bollywood’s highest-paid actors, ranked first among women on Forbes India’s most recent Celebrity 100 list and is expected to make over $7 million in 2019. She has portrayed strong, unorthodox female characters in difficult situations in some of her most critically acclaimed performances, such as a prostitution-sold lady in the recent smash “Gangubai Kathiawadi” and an abducted migrant worker in 2016’s “Udta Punjab.”
In Netflix's "Darlings," Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt discusses domestic violence.
The 29-year-old has recently collaborated with Meghna Gulzar and Zoya Akhtar, two of India’s best female directors. Aishwarya Rai Bhatt aims to leverage her behind-the-scenes role to promote better representation in Bollywood, as “Darlings” serves as the inaugural release for her new production company, Eternal Sunshine Productions.

“Slowly but surely, I sense that the equilibrium has returned to the room, which was formerly overwhelmingly masculine. I frequently see women, “She spoke. “And during the past ten years, that has occurred. I’ve seen the difference, and it’s beginning to get juicy and thrilling.”In essence, “Darlings” is a mother-daughter story about two abused women, Badru and Shamshu (played by Bhatt and Shefali Shah, respectively). It is a narrative primarily told by female characters, and first-time filmmaker Jasmeet K. Reen also contributed to the script.

The film, which has gotten positive reviews from Indian critics, delicately raises the issue of domestic abuse. Early on in the movie, Reen purposefully chose not to depict any acts of violence, representing how abuse had become so commonplace as to be invisible.
She told CNN, “I didn’t want to sensationalise it.

The mother-and-daughter team’s urgency to confront and escape the violence grows as more and more of Badru’s violent marriage is revealed. Reen described a situation in which her aunt called to inquire whether her husband had ever hit her as evidence that the main characters were influenced by her own proximity to domestic violence. The question initially horrified the director, but she soon saw that the issue wasn’t with her husband or her aunt; rather, it was with a culture where violence is pervasive enough to warrant the question in the first place.
She claimed that since you experienced it as a child, you can relate to it better and comprehend it better. And perhaps that makes it easier for you to create (stronger, non-stereotypical) female characters.
In Netflix's "Darlings," Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt discusses domestic violence.
According to estimates by the World Health Organization, 35% of women in India are believed to have experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner at least once. India is one of the 35 countries with the highest rate of domestic abuse. According to a poll by the Indian government that was done between 2019 and 2021, just 14% of Indian women who had been the victims of physical or sexual assault had sought assistance to stop further abuse.

Why does Bollywood employ the degrading technique of brownface in its films?Reen was careful not to belittle the subject when she was telling her narrative against this background. It’s not your typical Bollywood movie, she declared. I made an effort to play with genre and structure in order to make a point while still being attentive to it.

Abuse imagery and the Indian film industry have a complicated relationship. The authors of the book “Bollywood’s New Woman,” Megha Anwer and Anupama Arora, claim that Hindi film has a long history of “both subtextual and explicit engagement with the topic of domestic violence.”
By email, they explained to CNN that there are now two threads to Bollywood’s treatment of domestic abuse: one that normalises violence against women and the other that illustrates “both the trauma women endure and their desire toward resistance.” In order to illustrate the former, the authors used Alia Bhatt’s heroine confronting and outing her abuser in the 2014 film “Highway.”
In Netflix's "Darlings," Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt discusses domestic violence.
According to Anwer and Arora, clinical associate professors at Purdue University’s Honors College and professors of English and communication and women’s and gender studies at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, respectively, “Bollywood, like most industries in India, is male-dominated and that largely determines who gets represented and how.” “A systemic inequality of a gendered nature underlies all of this.”

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