BOTTOM LINE: Bold Narrative, Spoilt By Overstuffed Tropes, Weird End
Rating: 2.5 /5
Skin N Swear: No skin show, several graphic lovemaking sequences
|Platform: Netflix||Genre: Drama|
What Is the Story About?
Netflix’s latest original movie, Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare, is an unabashed take on sexuality — both male and female — and the undisguised hypocrisy around it, prevalent in our country. The movie is produced by Shobha and Ekta Kapoor, and directed by Alankrita Shrivastav.
Dolly and Kitty, aka Kajal, are cousins. Dolly (Konkona Sen Sharma) lives in Noida, works at a mediocre job, and is locked in a sexless marriage. Her small-town cousin, Kajal (Bhumi Pednekar), lured by the prospects of landing a good job in a big city, comes to live with her. Kitty lands a job at a romance call centre that specialises in providing sexual succour to its male clients – though on the phone. Kitty’s job becomes a bone of contention between the two sisters. They soon part ways, each traversing their chosen routes — Dolly with e-commerce delivery boy Usman (Amol Parashar), Kitty with Pradeep (Vikrant Massey), and later, DJ (Karan Kundrra) — until they discover the freedom that has eluded them until now.
Konkona Sen Sharma stands out with her polished performance as Dolly. The lady is a chameleon – give her any role and she’ll into it with consummate ease. Her refined, restrained acting, coupled with her poise and class, very easily make Dolly’s character the centrepiece of the film.
Bhumi Pednekar is, surprisingly, quite average. Let’s just say that Kitty is certainly not her best. She wears a bland, expressionless look throughout the film, which doesn’t change whatsoever – when she’s cheated out of her virginity, or she discovers her brother-in-law’s dirty secret, or when she’s on the verge of being molested – the same, bland look always.
Amol Parashar is endearing and adorable as Usman, not to say, impeccable in his performance. Vikrant Massey is a surprise in his scumbag character. Aamir Bashir is effective as Dolly’s uncaring, patriarchal husband, while Karan Kundrra and Kubra Sait pull off their parts well. Neelima Azim has a cameo appearance as Dolly’s MIA mother, but she’s just ok in the part.
Alankrita Shrivastav takes pleasure in smashing to bits, long-held hypocrisy and duplicity surrounding female sexuality. Her Lipstick Under My Burkha addressed the issue with keen intensity, much to the chagrin of the so-called keepers of Indian culture and values. Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare is not so ferociously outspoken, neither is it as upfront. Yet, it is unabashed and irreverent in taking the bull of society’s sexual two-facedness by the horns.
Innumerable instances in the movie spell out in story what we as a society know within our hearts. Sexual gratification is the only thing on the minds of men, female sexual pleasure be damned. Very few Indian men are man enough to care about the pleasure of the female during lovemaking. Wham, bam, but no thank you ma’m is the mantra of the Indian male. Dolly Kitty drives home these glaring points in no uncertain terms.
If a woman is cold during the act, it is her fault — no fingers pointed at the man who won’t lift so much as a finger to arouse her. She should be ready and willing, no matter what. Also, sexual incompatibility is a term alien to us. Marriage is a license for the man to have sex available to him whenever he is in the mood. With so many issues at play, Dolly’s story and character arc in the movie makes for compelling viewing. You root for her, want her to assert herself – whether in choosing an unlikely bedmate; refusing to make tea for the males in her office; or ultimately, in giving her son the joy he seeks – in ‘girl-like’ pleasures – playing with dolls, wearing cute girly bows, or dressing up in feminine clothes.
The sequences pertaining to Dolly’s effeminate son Pappu (Kalp Singh) are powerfully written. It is probably a first that an Indian movie has chosen to depict the issue of gender identity on screen. The kid takes our heart away. He wears a bra and goes to school one day – only to be publicly humiliated by the insensitive principal. It is a fact that cannot be ignored – Indian educators are hopelessly uninformed and uncaring when it comes to dealing with gender identity issues in kids and adolescents.
Dolly Kitty addresses all the aforementioned issues with aplomb, without being preachy or taking the moral high horse. It also doesn’t tell – only shows – leaving us to draw our own inferences.
Kitty’s arc, by contrast, is run-of-the-mill. She does gain the sexual gratification she seeks in the end, but it’s hardly earth-shattering. Also, her story arc regarding her profession is merely a rip-off of Ayushmann Khurrana’s seminal ‘Dream Girl’ – minus the scruples. Her story arc is unimpressive and uninspiring.
While the build up of the narrative is good, the climax is hurried and poorly written. It is downright weird, in fact, conveniently doing away with pivotal characters. The hasty finish botches up whatever good work is done by the run-up to it. Also, squeezing in tropes such as moral policing, Islamophobia, unscrupulous builders, middle-class subterfuge a la Hindi Medium, jibes on a woman’s place in life, is a bit much and absolutely needless, which the story could’ve easily done without.
All said and done, and flaws notwithstanding, Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare is a bold film that isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade. For that reason alone it deserves a watch.
Music and Other Departments?
Arjuna Harjai and Clinton Cerejo’s music is average. The background score by Mangesh Dhakde is exasperating. It is cloying and gets on your nerves. Softer, subtler background music would have served the narrative better.
The cinematography by John Jacob Payyapalli is eclectic. Psychedelic colors of nightclubs and the call centre merge with dusty Indian roads to give a nifty look.
The editing, by Charu Shree Roy, is strictly OK, while the production design by Tiya Tejpal is effective.
Dolly’s story arc
Konkona Sen Sharma’s performance
Pappu’s gender identity issues
Bhumi Pednekar’s story arc
Needless stuffing of tropes
Annoying background score
Did I Enjoy It?
Yes, in parts
Will You Recommend It?
As a one-time watch
‘Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare’ Review by Binged Bureau
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