Darlings Plot Synopsis
‘Darlings’ on Netflix is now trending in the top 10 in India. Starring Alia Bhatt in the central role, the story of the film revolves around Badru, a victim of domestic violence, living with Hamza.
The latter is fed up with his job and has become an alcoholic to deal with his frustrations. The kind-hearted Badru believes Hamza can still be salvaged and while things do get better for a while, they take a shocking, ugly turn when Badru has a miscarriage. Interestingly, the title comes from Badru’s untrained tongue. For almost every English word she speaks, Badru feels the urge to put an “s” at the end of it.
The film is stylized as a social issue think-piece wrapped up in a thrilling battle of life and death. Although Darlings remains mostly in the former’s vein, disparate elements of suspense do make their way into the story. Under Jasmeet Reen’s capable supervision, Darlings presents an acting powerhouse.
The performances are the beating heart of the film. It is when we see our characters most vulnerable on screen that ‘Darlings’ shines the brightest. In this piece, we take a look at some of the film’s deeper themes while explaining the intricacies and hidden meanings in the plot.
Why does Hamza turn into an alcoholic?
At the start of the story, we see Hamza propose to Badru and ask her to “tell your mother that I have got a government job”. Traditionally, a government job in India is seen as a sign of great stability and a secure future. Such a job also entails a pension after one retires, hence, increasing its charm among the middle class.
He gets a job with the railway as a ticket checker. But despite his status on the train, he is like a peon to his boss. We see a visual of him cleaning his dirty bathroom. Later in the film, we see him explaining to Zulfi that the title of his job is just for the namesake. His real job is actually serving his boss, Damle, who takes advantage of his seniority and the rich and toxic babu culture prevalent in India’s institutions.
Although it is not indicated whether Hamza was already an alcoholic before marrying Badru, there is overwhelming evidence to support the notion that he turned after taking the job. He had different expectations when he introduced himself to others as a ‘government officer’ and was probably too fed up with picking up after his tyrannical boss. He had great plans with Badru to make a bright future but the lack of progress towards that added to the frustrations.
How does Hamza learn that it was Zulfi who made the complaint against him?
Hamza, after being released from jail, immediately suspected Shamshu, Badru’s mother, of registering the complaint. But, as it turns out, neither of them made the complaint and left him wondering about the real “culprit”. Zulfi had bribed the police officer into making the complaint by giving him a brand new mobile phone.
That served as great protection against his identity. In India, the law lays down that the identity of the complainant cannot be revealed under any circumstances. So the police officer was under the duty, irrespective of what Hamza or anyone else gives him, to respect the law.
Instead, when Hamza offered to solve an ongoing crime for the officer that he was stuck with, he reveals that Zulfi – who had come to deliver Shamshu’s biriyani at the station – made the complaint.
Why does Badru want Hamza to sign the deal with the builder?
A recurring theme in the film is the deal that Hamza alone in the building is refusing to sign. Even when we first see Badru in her married household, she asks if Hamza has agreed to meet the builder or not. Actually, the real explanation behind the issue is something like this. Badru and Hamza stay in Mumbai.
The city is largely made up of chawls and slums, something that is reflective of the dire straits of the poor. In order to change that, many big corporations, at times with the support of the government, try to buy out the buildings and renovate them into corporate offices or malls.
In this instance, Hamza was the only person who refused to accept the offer to be shifted into a new home – as shown in the builder’s presentation – and allow his house to be sold/rented.
It is for this reason that Badru wants him to sign. The new building will provide her with the lifestyle she has always dreamed of. Luxuries that she has only seen in movies and on television will finally be at her disposal. We even have a couple of flashes in the future where Badru imagines her life in the new building with all the amenities.
The reasons behind Hamza’s kidnapping – Symbolism and Plot observations
Badru was a clear victim of domestic violence. What made matters worse was that Hamza thought that he was entitled to be abusive because Badru was his “property” after being married. It was not just the alcohol, that he himself admits later in the movie, that forced him to behave this way.
He was, by nature, a violent person. After he forcefully sent Badru down the stairs being paranoid that she has a love affair with Zulfi, she lands up in a hospital. She almost jumps out of the window before realizing that she is not the one who should suffer. Instead, she concocts a plan to teach Hamza a lesson by role reversal. She thinks that if Hamza is subrogated in her position, he might be able to better understand the suffering.
But the symbolism in how she keeps him – wrapped up in dupattas and house-made knots – is fascinating. Reen does not want the viewer to perceive Badru as an equally evil person as Hamza. Instead, she wants Badru’s internal scourge to manifest and show Hamza that she is no frog. If need be, she can be equal to him in the things he does to her and maybe even worse.
It highlights the emerging spirit and consciousness in women to fight back against injustices based on gender discrimination. It is the 21st century and there is no suggestion that women should be anyway inferior to men.
“Darlings” Ending Explained: Does Hamza commit suicide or is he killed?
When the police suspected wrongdoing on part of Badru and Zulfi, they showed the initiative to search her house. They found Zulfi there but no sign of Hamza. Zulfi reveals to Shamshu and Badru that he has untied him with heavy dosages of the injections Kasmi’s friend from the mental asylum gave him. Hamza reaches the station and his inarticulate speech suggests he is drunk again.
Badru and co are informed and she cleverly takes care of the situation. They bring him back, fill him with alcohol and decide to push him off the terrace. Given it was raining that night and he was drunk, the suspicion of foul play would be averted. But, Badru instead, decides to give him a chance to leave and record his confession of beating her and the fact that he will be responsible if anything happens to Badru.
They tie him to the tracks anyway but Badru realizes she is no scorpion and instead frees him. Hamza inadvertently is struck by an oncoming train and dies. It is then revealed that when Badru was recording the video, she only recorded the parts where it would seem like Hamza is committing suicide.
It was her intention that she be free from Hamza forever and luck played a huge part in making her wish come true. So to answer the question, Hamza was half murdered and half committed suicide. His death does not fall squarely in any classification and hence, must be taken in this altered state.
Read More: Darlings Movie Review