Shrivastava's direction captures some truly captivating performances
When Alankrita Shrivastava takes the reigns as director, the viewers can be sure of one thing – that the plot and the characters will have layers. For ‘Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare’, she also has a stellar cast, fronted by Bhumi Pednekar and Konkona Sensharma. The very early trailers showed an interesting tale of two sisters but what the film did was win praise at film festivals and then land on Netflix, out there for the world to see. But does it really pull you in in the way you expect?
Dolly (Sensharma) is married with two sons and her cousin Kaajal (Pednekar) – also known as Kitty – is staying with the family. When she goes out on a family outing with them, her brother-in-law Amit (Aamir Bashir) touches her in a way she feels uncomfortable with. She then tries to move away from the family, explaining to Dolly what she experienced and being told she’s almost overreacting. Kitty finds a job as a dating app female “lover” and a hostel space. They relationship between Dolly and Kitty changes and the film sees them going through their own “coming of age” experiences.
As explained earlier, if the main attraction was to be Shrivastava’s signature style (if it can be described as that), then this film very much delivers. The characters are complex, they are hugely flawed, they question their own selves, they are selfish… the list is endless. The well-rounded personas are indeed the USP of the entire plot, and Shrivastava’s direction captures some truly captivating performances.
Sensharma as Dolly is an absolute joy to see on screen as the wife and mother who has barriers which are apparent towards the second half of the film. Her scenes with Bashir are particularly telling and eventually the truth about their relationship comes to light. She also shines in the scenes with her younger son, played by Kalp Shah, who wants to dress up and be treated as a girl. Pednekar as Kitty cannot be praised enough. You literally can’t imagine anyone but her in this role and how she shows vulnerability as Kitty and finds herself in the process is one of the best things about this film. Her performance is praiseworthy to say the very least. Together, Sensharma and Pednekar portray these two protagonists with such ease that you almost feel like you wish this was a web-series rather than a film, in the hope that the narrative could’ve explored them some more. The other performances are also wholly decent including Bashir’s, Vikrant Massey as Pradeep, Amol Parashar as Osmaan, Kubbra Sait as Shazia and Karan Kundra as the DJ. Although some of these performances only span a few scenes, they are worthy of a mention in the overall feel of the film, which couldn’t be much more pitch perfect. It’s unfortunate that many of these roles don’t span enough throughout the story in order for it to feel like it was a wholesome watch.
The only one criticism about this film there could possibly be is that it feels incomplete somewhat. The characters and treatment of the story is so engaging that you want it to continue. The themes it touches on are also highly interesting and some really needed space in cinema – sexual desires of women, financial problems within a marriage, gender roles, fake identities on dating apps, etc. The regrettable feel that the audience is left with, however, is that some characters very much needed more screen-time, as did some of the background of the characters & running themes. Dolly’s mother (played by Neelima Azeem) left her when she was a child but this is never touched on apart from in one scene so the background is invalid a little, leaving you with questions. There’s a scene where Kitty is at her hostel looking at a child being given to a couple of adoption… but what is all that about? There are a few of these instances which leave you with questions that could possibly have been answered throughout the film if it was perhaps a little longer.
It is definitely a step in the right direction that some of the topics touched on in the film are given the platform for dialogue. However, it seems that there’s a lot crammed into this 2-hour film and it simply doesn’t seem to reach the satisfying end for the viewer that it could have. This film is a must-watch for the performances and the layers it, in the most part, successfully achieves. However, be prepared for many loose ends to remain loose which is a solid setback for this otherwise fantastic watch.