After the appalling Sadak-2, I decided to take a hiatus from writing movie reviews because writing honest reviews for bad films took a toll on me. I abhorred the fact that I was using my art of writing to call out substandard cinema, but then I was reminded by the wonderful AVS team that I shouldn’t feel bad about writing honest reviews as there’s very little we could do if the quality of Indian cinema has deteriorated over the past few months (Mrs. Serial Killer, Class of ‘83, Sadak-2, .. should I keep going?). Thus, I decided to come out of my hiatus to review Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare which released on September 18th 2020.
The Netflix original film produced by Ekta Kapoor & Shobha Kapoor and directed by Alankrita Shrivastava revolves around the life of two cousins Radha ‘Dolly’ (Konkona Sen Sharma) and Kajal ‘Kitty’ (Bhumi Pednekar), and their tryst with life in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. Dolly is happily married with two kids and seems to have a perfect textbook life whereas, in reality, it is far from perfect. To avoid marriage, Kitty comes to Noida to live with Dolly. However, she is uncomfortable by the sexual innuendos and advances by Kitty’s husband Amit (Aamir Bashir). When Kitty’s complaints aren’t taken seriously by Dolly, she decides to move to a hostel and starts working as a cybersex provider. As the film progresses, we witness two sisters’ chronicles as they navigate the bumps, twists, and turns of life in which sometimes they accept, reject, and question many of their moral choices.
Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare is the third film directed by Alankrita Shrivastava who rose to fame after her second film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ made headlines in the international film festival circuit and won many accolades for being an honest ‘women-centric’ film. However, I doubt her new film will hold an audience for its entire duration. The film seems to be convoluted with too many moral issues. From illicit carnal connections to the debatable cyber-sex worker, from parent-abandonment issues to hesitancy to accept a ‘transgender’ lifestyle, from unplanned/surrogate pregnancies to questionable male patriarchies. At some point in the film, everyone seems to be living a scandalous life, and it becomes difficult to understand the film’s flow. The writing doesn’t seem organic, and conclusions never seem to make sense. Think of ‘Life in a Metro’ but on steroids.
However, I do feel that if the movie is viewed only for its intent, liberal ideas, and courage, then it definitely fairs better than the other half-baked films released this year. This movie belongs to Konkana Sen Sharma and Bhumi Pednekar as their performance is admirable despite the films shortcomings. Even supporting actors such as Amol Parashar, Vikrant Massey, and Aamir Bashir have done a convincing job portraying their respective characters. Some scenes in the film open up the dialogue about what women want versus what women need (their desires).
All in all, Indian cinema has definitely moved in a progressive direction, and we are not afraid to make/accept films based on women’s needs, but Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare falls short in delivering the message effectively due to inept storytelling.
Reviewed by Puneet Ruparel