All about Eve
Dolly (Konkona Sen Sharma) is seemingly happily married to Amit (Aamir Bashir). They live in Noida and plan to move to a swankier home soon. Her cousin Kitty (Bhumi Pednekar) comes to live with them from Bihar but thanks to Amit’s lecherous ways, moves out soon in a shady PG and starts working in a company which specialises in ‘friendship’ chats. She finds a bohemian spirit (Kubra Sait) as her flatmate and opens up somewhat about life. She’s disgusted by the work she has to do but soon finds solace in one customer Pradeep (Vikrant Massey) whom she meets up for a liaison. Dolly, who considers herself frigid and whose marriage is on the rocks because of that, hooks up with a delivery boy (Amol Parashar) and discovers her sexuality. She tries to patch up with her mother (Neelima Azim) who had run off with a lover, leaving her kid behind but the rapprochement doesn’t go as planned. Meanwhile, her younger son is going through an identity crisis of sorts…
It’s a layered satire on the hypocrisy surrounding female sexuality. There’s a scene near the end of the screen where right-wing goons tear apart a sculpture representing the female genitalia. That, in sum, explains how even today the patriarchy is scared to bring about female sexuality out in the open. In another scene, when Amit accuses Dolly of infidelity, she retorts that he’s someone who has been using an app to indulge in sex chats with strangers on a daily basis. And ironically, Amit’s ire is aroused when he learns that Kitty is working for the same chat service. The film is a journey of self-discovery for both the leads. Dolly finds out that she isn’t frigid. She’s just been carrying the enormous guilt of not being a virgin before marriage. Her affair makes her free of it. And heartbreak teaches Kitty that love and sex are two different things. She too awakes from the nightmare of self-pity and denial and becomes a more confident self who now sees no shame in her profession and even proposes that a similar service should be started for women as well.
The film also bats for the safety of women. In a fleeting scene, we see a bus-conductor cajoling Kitty to come on board, and in another scene, uncouth passengers in an SUV harass her. Dolly, who works in a small office, makes tea for her domineering boss every day. And one day, she makes it just for herself and sips it contentedly, putting him in place with the gesture. Dolly recognises her younger son is different. She initially reacts by beating him but later understands that like her, he’s also been discovering himself and vows to support him in his journey. Apart from these obvious concerns, the film also takes potshots at the middle-class obsession of buying a bigger flat, of having air-conditioned homes or working in a ‘respectable’ job.
The climax is somewhat rushed. And some scenes do have excess melodrama. But overall the screenplay brings to you a big bite of reality. Director Alankrita Shrivastava has been wise in her choice of actors. Both Bhumi and Konkona make you feel you’re watching Kitty and Dolly and not two actors essaying their roles. They share an easy camaraderie and give off the feel of cousins who have been close since childhood. Though they bicker and fight, they’re there for each other when the time comes. Kudos to both on a job well done. It was nice to see Neelima Azim on screen after so much time. She sparkles in her two-minute scene. The rest of the supporting cast have done their bits nicely as well.
Alankrita, who was made famous by the dark comedy Lipstick Under My Burkha, adds another feather in her cap with the present film. Watch it for the issues it raises, as also for some refined acting displayed by the entire cast.
Trailer : Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare
Sreeparna Sengupta, September 18, 2020, 8:06 PM IST
STORY: Kajal, a young girl, wanting to live an independent life, comes to Noida to stay with her cousin Dolly while searching for a job. On the face of it, Dolly has the perfect family set up with her husband and two kids, but is it really? And will Kajal be able to live the life of her dreams eventually?
REVIEW: ‘Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare’ calls out the hypocrisy around seemingly happy marriages right at the beginning, when Kajal (Bhumi Pednekar) tells her cousin, Dolly (Konkona Sen Sharma) that her husband Amit (Aamir Bashir) has been hitting on her. When Dolly insists Kajal may have misunderstood his friendly, protective behaviour, she spells it out for her cousin, “Amit ji humse sex karna chahte hain.” But there are more things on Dolly’s mind than to get worked up about this piece of information, like making plans to move into a plush new complex, where the couple’s new flat is under construction. When money falls short for their installments, Dolly hustles – by either stealing from her office or selling her jewelry. Her day at work usually starts off by making three cups of tea – one for her boss, one for her colleague and one for herself.
Kajal, on the other hand, finds a job at a call center for love and sex chats. She moves out to live in a hostel, without revealing to Dolly the actual nature of her job. Kajal who now works under the pseudonym Kitty starts to savor the freedom that comes with her choices. However along the way, she meets with some pleasant and unpleasant experiences. And when a series of events lead to Dolly finding out where Kajal works – she takes the moral high-ground, as does Kajal who knows her cousin’s marriage is empty on the inside.
Director Alankrita Shrivastava’s film makes a strong point on gender roles, societal norms and moral judgments. As Dolly and Kajal’s lives take them through different circumstances, they are first out to judge each other’s life’s choices, but eventually, they realise they are not very different. Deep down, as women they are looking for the same things, craving the same freedom. Although on the flipside the film’s narrative packs in too many angles and sub-texts and at times, leaves some threads underdeveloped. Also, some of the narrative shifts feel too abrupt. But overall, ‘Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare’ drives home the message that it sets out to give. The film opens up conversations around women’s sexual needs and desires and is a commentary on moral policing, sexuality, gender biases and stereotyping.
The performances are overall topnotch. Konkona Sen Sharma as Mrs.Yadav or Dolly is superlative as her character moves through an entire arc in this film, exploring her relationship with her husband, her son Pappu and her mother. Bhumi Pednekar also dishes out a stellar act. Amol Parasher stands out as the sweet delivery boy, Osmaan. Vikrant Massey as Kajal’s lover, Pradeep, is superb, as is Aamir Bashir as Dolly’s disgruntled husband, Amit.
Ultimately, ‘Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare’ brings out the different shades to womanhood through it’s layered narrative and pushes one to be who they want to be. And damn it, if society has other dreams for you.