‘Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare’ courageously portrays the subject of female desire— one that appears to be irrelevant to the Indian media industry, especially Bollywood. The movie explores the respective lives of two cousins, Dolly and Kitty. From the financial struggles of a middle-class household to casual sexism in the workplace, it also dwells upon issues like sex work and gender roles in children.
Dolly, played by Konkana Sen, is a married woman with a clerical job. Their family lives in a flat in Noida and aspires to lead a more luxurious lifestyle someday. She shares a strained relationship with her husband due to their lack of sexual compatibility. The movie captures Dolly’s transformation as she embraces her truth and stops succumbing to the expectations of her husband. Her cousin Kaajal’s character, played by Bhumi Pednekar, also evolves through the course of the film. She quits her factory job and ends up working for an online dating platform which is just a farce for phone sex. There, she assumes the name, Kitty.
The movie captures several other storylines simultaneously. Dolly’s mother had left her as a child to live her life on her terms. There is an underlying plot for Dolly’s son who doesn’t identify with traditional gender norms. There are scenes where saffron-clad men violently oppose feminist expression under the name of culture and religion. Amongst these, there were several other poignant points brought up in the movie.
Where the movie excelled in variety, it lacked in-depth. None of these issues were explored and understood with intricacy. It leaves the audience confused and uncertain about certain aspects of the movie and its characters. Another criticism of the movie was the simplistic and predictable ending, where all problems seemed to resolve themselves. The movie falls short in storytelling.
Despite flaws in execution, the movie is a breath of fresh air. Director Alankrita Shrivastava’s previous script, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ also explored female desires and similar feminist themes. Desire doesn’t fit into traditional gender roles, and moving away from this norm makes people uncomfortable. Both her movies have received a great amount of backlash from conservative groups. The movie hints at this back-lash in a scene wherein goons destroy a work of feminist art.
Throughout the decades, any movie that has tried to break away from gender roles has received backlash, however, it is sexuality that seems to bother audiences the most. Conservative groups are quick to call the likes of ‘Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitaare’ immoral and corrupt. What they fail to acknowledge is that art and society are a reflection of each other.
Edited by Vedangshi Roy and Paridhi Mittal