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Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare review: A well-intentioned drama

Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare is superbly performed but misses the spark!

Source: SIFY

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Monday 21 September 2020

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Movie Title

Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare review: A well-intentioned drama

Director

Alankrita Shrivastava

Star Cast

Konkona Sen Sharma, Bhumi Pednekar, Vikrant Massey

When Kaajal/Kitty (Bhumi Pednekar) arrives from Bihar to Noida, her cousin Dolly (Konkona Sen Sharma) is thrilled. They go to an amusement park together, and in the horror house (apt), Kitty confesses to Dolly that her creepy husband molested her a few minutes ago. Unperturbed, Dolly brushes if off and blames it on her hormones. The film then explores the lives of these two women, who keep fighting and making up with each other. In the end, they find their own voice or at least appear to.  

The film is directed by Alankrita Shrivastava who made the spectacular Lipstick Under My Burkha a few years ago. This one has a lot of the same elements – women’s sexual desires, being unapologetic about choices, relationship compromises, women supporting each other and so on. While Lipstick was like a bolt, making everyone sit up and take notice, Dolly Kitty is a more watered-down depiction, even unsure and wobbly at times.  

Now, a story about a woman’s journey is always fun, replete as it is with many more twists and turns. Here, we also get a fabulous cast headlined by Konkona Sen Sharma who can do no wrong! And Bhumi Pednekar who is perfect as the small-town girl who comes to a big city with stars in her eyes. Their chemistry is fun and volatile which goes perfectly with the story.

 Shrivastava does good by folding in the part about the little boy who likes dolls and wearing frocks.  She brings in other issues as well— there’s the political goons who harass canoodling lovers and Muslim delivery boys, the ambiguous ethics of working in a phone sex service company, infidelity, and leaving toxic relationships.  

The film falters on a few counts. Dolly’s husband molesting Kitty is linked to sexual frustration as he shifts the blame on Dolly’s frigidity (one wonders why this dialogue needed to be there as it lets him off easy). The prominent female characters in the movie appear confused, and eventually enlightened but not altogether empowered.  

Kitty starts working for a phone sex app. At one point she says that she hates herself for doing this job. But we never see her trying to get out of this situation or find other work.  

An odd thread throughout the film is the prominent female characters finding happiness in materialistic things, often choosing them above self-respect.  Kitty sticks around in the phone sex job despite claiming to hate it, but enjoys the money and the elaborate food buffet at work. Dolly is found boasting about a new flat, ac and new car etc. for the most part of the film, ignoring the cracks in her relationship. Kitty’s colleague flashes a new mobile gifted to her by a rich ‘friend’, and is nonchalant about sleeping with someone for material benefits. It’s great to have flawed characters, but one must find redeeming qualities in them also. The film doesn’t elicit an emotional connect with Kitty, simply because we don’t find her genuinely working towards bettering her reality. Dolly’s journey is far more interesting, especially when she finds a young admirer, and is in a dilemma.

Shrivastava often charts her character’s lives through their sexual journeys. But in this film, it’s almost restricting (unlike Lipstick).  For example, apart from Kitty working with a phone sex app and her love/sex adventures, there’s nothing much we know. What did she study, what are her ambitions, what are her flaws/opinions etc.? Dolly is more fleshed out, and we see clearly that she has settled— both for a below-par relationship and a dead-end job.  

The film is well-meaning but while its feminism seems heartfelt overall, it’s also vague in a few portions. Worth a watch for the crackling performances.  

(Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare can be viewed on Netflix)

 

Sonia Chopra is a critic, columnist and screenwriter with over 15 years of experience. She tweets on @soniachopra2

 

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