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Starring: Konkana Sen Sharma, Bhumi Pednekar, Vikrant Massey and Aamir Bashir
Director: Alankrita Shrivastava
A film by one of India’s bold and trendsetting crop of female writer-directors, with successes such as ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ and ‘Made in Heaven’ under her belt, promises to draw in audiences with relative ease.
Dolly a.k.a. Radha (Sen Sharma) and Kitty a.k.a. Kaajal (Pednekar) are cousin sisters who grew up together in the small town of Darbhanga in Bihar, eastern India. We meet them just as Kitty arrives in the big city of Greater Noida, on the suburbs of , to live with Dolly and her husband in search of work and a new, more exciting life. But she is instantly accosted with a kind of excitement she could do without, the unwanted advances of her brother-in-law Amit (Bashir).
The outspoken Kitty refuses to keep this impropriety hidden and informs her sister right away about her husband’s roving eye, but Dolly’s dismissive reaction to it comes as a complete shock to her. The unhappiness of the couple’s married life is soon apparent despite their attempts at portraying an outward semblance of normality, as they together save up for their own flat in one of the multiplying skyscrapers springing up around the incessantly under-construction suburbs of Delhi.
Kitty, meanwhile, is determined to find her own feet away from this marital strife and have some fun along the way. Her new call centre job, offering a telephone service for lonely hearts, proves more sordid than she bargained for but her quick-thinking scores her great points with the management.
As we follow these two parallel lives of the sisters who are more alike than they realise, we are led through a journey that is packed with emotional upheavals.
‘Dolly Kitty Aur Who Chamakte Sitare’ is very much in the mould of the kind of cinema associated with Shrivastava’s past work – a nuanced and insightful take on the female psyche. The characters are as far from black and white as could possibly be, with a million shades of grey thrown in to make them very real and believable.
Sen Sharma as the outwardly repressed yet full of spunk Indian housewife and Pednekar as the brash small-town girl with lots of street smart and chutzpah are the perfect pairing for the title roles. Bashir as the self-centred husband and Massey as the deceitful lover manage to hold their own, just about, in this female-centric and extremely layered script that is a stark commentary on the upwardly mobile modern India.
On the whole, the film is another fairly watchable ride from but the plot lacks that extra punch of some of the other recent releases from India.