Hello fellow binge watchers!
So Netflix just dropped another original this Friday. But before you decide to invest/waste two beautiful hours of your life, here is a word of caution.
It is tiresome to point out all that is wrong with the understanding and depiction of the much abused word ‘feminism’ in Indian cinematic space. Women who drink, smoke, abuse and act illogically on unfulfilled physical desires is a template created by filmmakers to represent so called modern independent women. Dolly Kitty aur who Chamakte Sitare, starts off from a modest place of middle-class vulnerability but ends up falling prey to this very template and ends up contributing to the damage that shows like Four more shots and Veere Di Wedding have been doing.
Konkona Sen Sharma as Dolly is a working wife, mother of two, making ends meets with her middle-class wit in a tiny aspirational life in Greater Noida. Bhumi Pednekar aka Kajal aka Kitty is her small town-big dreams type cousin from Bihar. These are strong actors jailed in stereotypes and unreal half-baked characters. We don’t know much about Kajal, but she quits a factory job one day and the second day lands a job in a ‘romance –selling’ call centre. There is no in-between, there are no other opportunities for women in big cities apparently. Also the hostel she stays in, is made to look very suspicious, but then those suspicions are never cleared later. Dolly on the other hand is burdened with all the problems of the society that the writers wanted to address in this one single story. Her husband, her work, her children, her mother, her lover, her relationship with each of them is given an independent complexity. Oh and I specially want to mention how distracting her floral house is, ok so you wanted to make a comment on the taste of lower middle class Noida, but what is this brothel inspired décor?
These women are a mess in their personal lives, which is fine. It is a struggle for most women to call out their simple choices and basic desires, this is the plain truth. In one scene Konkona Sen makes a cup of tea to herself and drinks it without serving it to her male seniors, this is an example of how simplistic satisfaction can be. But that’s the only time you see anything simple. When these women are handed the tools of alcohol, abuse, infidelity, etc. and men are demonised in general to justify ‘what women want’, that’s where it all goes wrong.
The last we saw of Writer-Director Alankrita Srivastava was ‘Lipstick under my Burkha’, where she created some beautiful characters to tell unheard stories of women. But despite her honest intensions, this film becomes a ‘khichdi’ of melodramatic fiction with too many subjects like sexual frustration, minority hate, confused gender association, consumerism all stuffed into one weak storyline.
Lost in the ideals of feminism and liberalism, whatever makes its way to the screen is extremely confused and diluted, far from making any sense.
Besides the protagonists, we see cameos from a bunch of other powerful actors like Vikrant Massey, Amol Parashar and Amir Bashir. Good or bad, their characters turn out to be more believable for whatever small screen time they get. There is also Neelima Azeem and Kubra Sait who are wasted in very odd appearances.
By the time we reach the climax, the narrative goes from convoluted to bizarre.
It is disappointing to see such good talent and meaningful intentions go waste into a fog of hazy writing and disconnected storytelling. There are stars here, but with a very blurry ‘chamak’.
Going for 2 out of 5 Cuttings for this one.