Kajal from Darbhanga comes to her cousin Dolly Yadav’s house in Noida in search of a job and independence. On close scrutiny, Dolly is also found to be struggling on all fronts. What becomes of these two working class cousins? Do they get their share of glittering stars?
'Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare' is not a light watch if that’s what you seek; none of Alankrita’s movies are. They are well-lived commentaries on what women’s lives entail, from any strata, age or religion. Not the curated versions we see online but the nitty-gritty of it, especially of those who seek to even the balance.
Kajal (a feisty, balanced Bhumi Pednekar) is a fresh import from the Hindi hinterland, who comes to live with Dolly Di (Konkona Sen Sharma) and her family in search of freedom, with Dolly’s entitled husband Amit (Aamir Bashir) hitting on her. Dolly has too much on her plate to check this behaviour, stealing funds from the office petty cash or selling her jewelry to fuel her aspirational wants and instalments for the lush new under-construction flat. In a telling set of scenes, at office it’s always Dolly who is saddled with making tea for all. Kajal, on the other hand, finds a job (as Kitty) at a call centre peddling sex chats, and a hostel bed, and through them a life of freedom, while bravely dealing with the consequences too. With men failing the two on all counts, they remain the pillar for the other through the storms.
Director Alankrita Shrivastava has selected the names of her leading characters and thus the title very aptly, mirroring the small town aspirational tone from my nostalgia that loves the urban veneer but is so tradition-bound within. Small towns dream of economic mobility with no change on gender or moral mores, leading to unbearable hypocrisy. From ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ and ‘Made In Heaven’, her stand against enforced gender roles and mores has only got clearer, more subtle; though thematically they all reside in the same sphere.
In the film, the cousins are always the first to judge each other's life choices and yet can’t unsee how similar they are to the other – starting with the work they do in dead-end jobs that they can’t leave. In a lovely scene, Dolly confronts Kajal at her office to berate her about her unbecoming life decisions with Kajal giving it back as good as she gets. The story houses multiple issues and gets bogged down by it, losing the tight grip it initially promised. But overall, it’s a clear winner in being a conversation-starter about feminine desires and how it’s conveniently brushed under the carpet to this day.
Konkana merges into her character and lives its arc seamlessly, be it with her husband, her chauvinistic colleagues, her estranged ma or younger son. Her fascination for the dreamy delivery boy is as unreal as believable. Bhumi smashes another one out of the ballpark, especially in every scene where she is let down by some loved one or the other. Amol Parasher is the sugar to Vikrant Massey’s unreliable chutzpah and Aamir Bashir’s entitlement, though frankly they all have quite limited, uni-dimensional arcs. The movie is meant for women and men who understand women, and resonates effortlessly with its intended audience.
Series: Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare (Hindi)
Director: Alankrita Shrivastava
Cast: Konkona Sen Sharma, Bhumi Pednekar, Aamir Bashir, Vikrant Massey, Amol Parasher, Kubbra Sait, Karan Kundra, Neelima Azim
Runtime: 1 hr 56 minutes