Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare
Cast: Konkona Sensharma, Bhumi Pednekar, Aamir Bashir, Vikrant Massey, Amol Parashar, Karan Kundra
Director: Alankrita Shrivastava
There is a nostalgic feel to the title of director Alankrita Shrivastava’s (Lipstick Under My Burkha, Made In Heaven) new Netflix film Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare. It gives a sense of those times when moving to big cities was the only way to survive and live a comparatively dignified life, especially in the Hindi heartland. It reminds you of many fantastic stories in contemporary Hindi literature. There is a distinct touch that takes us back to an era where upward economic mobility made much more sense for the middle class. In short, full marks to the title for evoking just the right emotions.
Mrs Yadav aka Dolly (Konkona Sensharma) is a street-smart working woman who is battling on many fronts with a smiling face, but her prejudices and biases keep blowing her tough cover. But there is this understanding between Shrivastava and Sensharma that you can’t pinpoint this as Mrs Yadav’s flaw. She is conflicted, aspirational and yet so understanding.
She gives a very ‘keeper’ vibe but there is something about her personality that keeps hinting towards her feisty character, it’s probably something that propels her towards a more just environment. Otherwise too, if Sensharma plays a docile character, we mostly know that there is a strategic silence to it and she will explode when the moment comes. What a pivot for a story that needed its lead to proceed with a certain glint in her eyes!
We are introduced to Mrs Yadav when her cousin Kitty (Bhumi Pednekar) arrives at her house in Noida from Darbhanga, Bihar, in search of a better life. She is vocal and spirited in the way only small town girls can be. Those who are born with nothing but aim for the sky. No might can push them into oblivion. They always work their way around obstacles. Pednekar’s baggage has helped her in projecting the right image. Also, she is very restrained and gives ample space to co-actors even during the intense scenes, and that brings forth her development as an actor. A worthy companion for Sensharma.
Then there are typical male characters found in Shrivastava’s projects who would flip into a darker world despite their innocent faces. It’s hard to imagine a sweet-faced Vikrant Massey in such grey space!
In between, the director slips in her politics too, but to be honest, that looks forceful and hampers the flow of an otherwise very pointed narrative. It probably would have worked better if it was only about Dolly and Kitty without much of political intrusion. It might have looked better on paper, but on screen, it’s an obstacle that makes the film look like two separate stories packed into one.
However, in tone and texture, Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare has hit the right spots. Its intention of being a working class heroines’ story is quite apparent and has nice dimensions too, but there are way too many sub-plots going on for a 124-minute film.
If we don’t get into nitpicking then Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare is a suitable film giving a good overlook of the present feminism debates.
Before I finish, a shout-out to Aamir Bashir, whose special treatment of an ordinary character has once again won me over.