PeepingMoon Exclusive: 'Darlings is an antithesis to Kabir Singh in terms of messaging,' says director Jasmeet K Reen on Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah & Vijay Varma's film

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It won't be unfair to call Darlings one of the finest films to release in 2022. Headlined by Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah, Vijay Varma and Roshan Mathew, the dark comedy premiered on Netflix on August 5 and is currently ruling across countries. Considering its humongous success, Darlings is set to be remade in Tamil and Telugu languages. Amid this, it is director Jasmeet K Reen who is enjoying the sweet success after years of hard work. 

In an exclusive interview with PeepingMoon.com, Jasmeet, who made her feature film directorial debut with Darlings, spoke about setting the dark comedy in a chawl. She further emphasized why Darlings is an antithesis to films like Kabir Singh. The filmmaker shed light on the idea behind the mendhak-bicchoo fable and Shefali-Roshan's cute love story.

Excerpts from the interview:  

Recommended Read: Darlings Review: Alia Bhatt, Shefali Shah, Vijay Varma & Roshan Mathew’s dark comedy is a tight slap on abusive marriages & domestic violence

What's the idea behind the title Darlings?

The idea came from the dialogue where Hamza calls Badru ‘Darlings’. The word 'darling' is something that I like instead of baby, sweety etc. Once that was cracked in the dialogue, I thought the title of the film can be Darlings

Is Darlings a befitting answer to films like Kabir Singh?

It is an antithesis to Kabir Singh but I cannot say it is an answer. Both have their own place. Kabir Singh and Hamza cannot be compared as they are different. The viewpoints are different. I looked at it from Badru’s point of view whereas Sandeep (Reddy Vanga, director) looked at it from Kabir’s point of view. It cannot be an answer but an antithesis in terms of messaging.

 

Did you model your characters on real people? 

It is a fictional story. I did a lot of research in order to represent the issue responsibly. I met a lot of women before starting the script to understand and empathise with what they go through and what the challenges are to be a part of toxic relationships. Writers absorb so much in terms of what they read, hear and experience. All elements come together when you sit down to write. 

Domestic violence can occur even in the richest families. Any reason behind choosing a chawl setting?

Yes, it happens across strata. Violence has no gender or caste or income group. I did recce of the Byculla chawl for a few months and the lingo used there fascinated me. It was just another world that we had not seen. A flavour that became a part of the dialogues. It is a mix of Urdu, Hindi, English, Marathi etc. I thought the chawl setting was adding a lot of flavour to the story. Even if you see the set design and the costumes, it was just adding a lot to Darlings. It represented Mumbai in a multi-cultural way. They do speak like, “Sad face mat banao na Darlings.” It was a creative call, not based on any religion, community or strata.   

People accused Darlings of advocating male bashing just after watching the trailer. What’s your reaction to this? 

Film dekho. Once you watch the film, the answer lies there. It tells you to not become like the other person. Just respect yourself, fight for your respect and walk away if the person doesn’t want to change. You shouldn’t change yourself to become like him.   

 

What’s the idea behind the mendhak-bicchoo tale? What went behind curating it?

To show the nature of things. Fables tell you how characters behave. The mendhak-bicchoo fable came in the mother’s dialogue when she was explaining to her daughter that Hamza can never change.  Badru is a mendhak and she cannot and shouldn’t become a bicchoo. The messaging came out so strongly that we decided to repeat that in the end. Badru was also becoming a bicchoo but she was feeling something was wrong. When you are achieving something, you should feel good about it. She wasn’t feeling good, she felt she was becoming like Hamza. When realisation strikes, she understands she's a mendhak and shouldn’t become a bicchoo. Fables tell you the true nature of things.    

Do you intend to take forward the story of Darlings with a sequel? Maybe something around Shamshu and Zulfi’s story?

Shamshu and Zulfi’s story was cute. They surely have a future and that’s a hope we have given. As of now, we are enjoying the success of Darlings. Ab sochenge, but pata nahi.   

Shamshu and Zulfi’s story was one of the key highlights. Was it purposely kept to the bare minimum?

Yes, it is just the beginning. Zulfi never intended to tell her. His love was so pure and unconditional for Shamshu that he would have never told her. He would never risk losing his friendship with her. He has a soft corner for both women but loves Shamshu. He blurted it out because he was in a mess. It is just the beginning of a beautiful relationship; the daughter also accepted it and gave her mother the freedom to choose what she wants. The daughter gave her mother hope. Now it is upto the mother whether she chooses to start a life with Zulfi. 

You’ve blended humour with an important message. Is it the need of the hour to mix comedy with content for better impact?

I believe a film should be engaging. The story lent itself to comedy as the characters were like that. 

There’s a dialogue in Darlings said by Shefali that the world has changed for people on Twitter, but not for us in real life. From where did this dialogue's idea crop up?

What an interaction Shefali Shah had with the cop! The cop empathised with these two women. He was not like other men. That was one aspect. The other was that the cop said why don’t you take things in your hand. He gave them options like divorce. Shefali, however hesitant, believed that society doesn't easily accept divorced women. When the cop assured her that the world has now changed, Shefali reflected on the behaviour prevalent in her community, and her surroundings. 

Darlings will be remade in Tamil and Telugu. Have you locked the script and cast?

There’s nothing locked on it yet. Right now, the focus is on the script. The producers want to make it in regional languages and the idea is simply beautiful. Firstly, it is important to get the script right because the language and cultural patterns are different. That work will start now.

Sahir Ludhianvi's biopic Gustakhiyan was to be directed by you. When is it happening? Is Shah Rukh Khan headlining it? 

I had written the script before Darlings and I want to direct it. At some point, I will direct it but cannot say when. I hope to make it someday; with whom, I don't know yet. 

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