Alia Bhatt’s film Darlings has kicked up a storm on social media, just ahead of its Netflix release on Friday, with audience upset over the alleged trivialisation of domestic violence against men in the movie’s trailer.
The 2.34-minute trailer opens with Hamza Shaikh (played by Vijay Varma), confessing his love for his wife Badrunissa, but revealing that he is leaving her. The next flurry of scenes show Hamza being held captive by Badrunissa (played by Alia Bhat), who fakes his kidnapping, and instead tortures him in revenge for the abuse he has inflicted on her.
The ‘dark comedy’ is replete with graphic scenes, where a helpless and seemingly clueless Hamza, tied to a chair, is constantly and rather brutally tortured and beaten up. There is a scene where Badrunissa says, “Enough of fielding, now is the time to bat,” before bashing Hamza’s head with a frying fan.
Not just that. In one scene, he is pulled by the hair while the character played by Roshan Mathew pours liquor down his throat; his head is dunked in water; and he is forcefully given injections.
— Nirmal Kumar Kedia (@kedianirmal26) August 3, 2022
All this while a peppy, high-octane track plays in the background…to evoke laughter and the neo-noir feel of the film.
Not funny, say twitteratti
The intended ‘dark humour’ of the film, however, has failed to translate before the audience, and has rather infuriated them. Social media users have accused Alia of promoting domestic violence against men with the hashtags of #BoycottAliaBhat, #BoycottDarlings, #BanDarlings trending on Twitter.
Many have commented that the trailer makes light of the physical abuse that several male of victims of domestic violence have faced and makes a mockery of their trauma.
“Everyone should boycott Alia Bhatt for making a misandrist movie like Darlings. For Bollywood, domestic violence on men is a matter of joke. Pathetic,” a user commented.
“Is this what she wants to promote from Darlings,” another user tweeted, sharing the clipping of a news item reporting about a woman from Jharkhand having killed her husband for not allowing her to wear jeans.
Why is Domestic violence against men normalised and even worse mocked. 3.4 crore men in India face domestic violence . This is not acceptable. @realsiff is against thishttps://t.co/aNxHzWqYTb
— Darshan Kamat (@MraFighter) August 3, 2022
“Believe all victims, regardless of gender,” a user posted, sharing a collage of real-life victims of domestic abuse.
Alia and Amber
Others compared Alia with Hollywood actor Amber Heard, who has been at the receiving end of criticisms for accusations of domestic abuse made by ex-husband Johnny Depp against her.
“In #USA people supporting #JohnnyDepp for #DomesticViolence against MEN. But in India Alia Bhatt promotes and make joke of DOMESTICVIOLENCE against MEN #BanDarlings,” a user commented.
— Ambar (@Ambar_SIFF_MRA) August 3, 2022
A review of the trailer in an online publication tore down the portrayal of an ‘abused man’, lambasting the makers for “glorifying violence on a large scale,” which “can be damaging to the social and cultural fabric of any society.”
Audience have questioned if the producers of the film would have dared to apply the same treatment to a female character.
Despite the hate comments and negative tweets, several social media users have also supported Alia, advising critics to watch the trailer again as it also shows Badrunissa as a victim of domestic violence.
In the trailer, we are shown flashbacks where Alia’s character is tortured. “I will treat him, how he treated me,” she says in one scene.
“People who are trending #BoycottAliaBhatt should watch the trailer instead of making a mockery of themselves…Alia Bhatt was herself shown a victim of domestic violence and after that she decided to take revenge..At this point this boycott culture is becoming funny,” a user commented.
Directed by Jasmeet K Reen, the movie has been co-produced by Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainent besides Alia and also stars Shefali Shah in a pivotal role. It releases on Netflix on August 5.