The film Darlings addresses the issue of domestic violence and director Jasmeet K Reen says the intention of the film was to start the conversation
From the time 'Darlings' has released on August 5 on the OTT platform Netflix, the film is reciving a lot of appriciation from the critics and audience alike. Whther it is the skilled performance of Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah, Vijay Varma, Roshan Mathew; or even a chatter around the treatment of the male protagonist Humza who also face his share of domestic violence.
The film is also starring - Rajesh Sharma, Vijay Maurya, Santosh Juvekar, Kiran Karmarkar among others.
In conversation with the director of the film Jasmeet K Reen, OTTplay finds out more.
Excerpt from the conversation
Did you expect the kind of response and conversation that started around the film Darlings post its release?
Firstly, I wanted to make a film that reflects my voice in it. So when I decided to on a topic, a story idea, I did my reserch work of interacting with many people to understand the intensity of a matter like domestic violence and also tried to explore different perspective. I was doing through a process to understand why these women do not leave their husband but always try to fix a relationship. So the film had a journey from throught to word, word to a full-lenth script. Then a transition happened from script to screen.
Now when I look back, yes, I can say I am satistifed with the response of the film, because I see the result of its intention.
So, what was the intention of making Darlings?
Well, to start a conversation and bring out different perspective of it. Look, I am a filmmaker so I know the power of storytelling. But at the same time I also understand that a film cannot change the world, but surely can start a conversation. That should be the job of a filmmaker, to engage, to entertain or both. The story should be powerful enough to start a conversation or look at the matter from a different perspective.
Quite interestingly, you painted two male characters - Humza and Zulfi who are poles apart by nature. Was it also intentional to establish two different versions of masculinity?
When I started writing these character, that was not exactly what I was thinking but I was just writing these characters as part of the narrative. But yes, eventually, it came across like that, because in reality both the character exists. There are men like Humza as well as men like Zulfi. There is another male character Kasim Kasai. All of them are different men and they are wonderful. Zulfi is a really sweet guy who can do no wrong and he fell in love with Shamshunissa without expecting anything in return, it's an unconditional love. Kasim on the other hand is keeping a secret and remain a silent observer all his life. So yes, while a character like Humza is a reality, a man like Zulfi gives us hope, because all men are not as violent and toxic like Humza.
While the violence against these women cannot be justified, why do both Shamshu and Badru take violence as a way to resolve domestic violence? They could have divorced their husband
Well, Shamshu resort to violence because she had a small baby in her hand and under that situation she was left with no option because she had to protect the child. However, when it comes to Badru, she did not take Humza's life but went through a series of emotion to reach to a point. Initially she thought of tolarating with the hope that things will be fine between them. She tried to do treatment of his alchohol addition but then when Humza killed her unborn child, that was the point she decided to take revenge.
For a woman, losing a child, after all those series of tourture was a tipping point. However, Badru also came to a realisation that if the reason behind the revange is to get her respect back, who is Humza to give her respect. She never lost her self-respect. She should rather walk away respectfully leaving Humza and only Karma can decide whatever punishment Humza deserves.
That was expectly the reason why in the railway track scene, Badru walks away but then whatever happens is Karma.
After the release of the film, there was a lot of online chatter about the issue of domestic violence against men which is also very much a reality and a section of the viewers felt that the movie turned a deaf ear to that aspect. What are your thoughts on that? Isn't Humza's character a result of toxic masculinity?
Look, violence has no gender. And yes, if we look at the character of Humza with compassion, we can see how he is the result of toxic masculinity. He is getting violent on his wife because of his deeprooted insecurity and daily day frustration. He thought he will get a government job and rock the world. But in reality, his boss treats him badly, makes him clean toilets! Of course that is wrong. But does that mean you come back home and beat up your wife?
Humza is violent with Badru only because he wants to hold on to this woman whom he loves. But it is toxic because his way to hold on to a person is by controlling and torturing. That is absolutely wrong! Humza is also insecure that his mother-in-law one day take his wife away.
On the other hand, after a point, while Badru also realises that revenge is not the answer for such people, she walked away.
When I am talking about such toxicity, I am also saying it has nothing to do with which socio-econic background you are coming from. I know many independent women also who are in such toxic relastion. Toxicty comes from insecurty, and violence has no gender.