Netflix India released another film on 18th of September. ‘Dolly, Kitty aur woh Chamakte Sitare,’ saw a web platform release amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Audiences saw Alankrita Shrivastava return to the screen after ‘Lipstick Under my Burkha.’ The movie much like Shrivastava’s earlier ventures delves heavily into gendered questions that exist within both the public and private sphere. Hindi cinema has often shied away from feminine representation of sexuality. ‘Dolly, Kitty aur woh Chamakte Sitare,’ does a good job in expanding on this topic.
The story revolves around Radha and Kaajal, two sisters trying to find their voices in the stifling city of Noida. Radha also known as Dolly is a middle-class woman with two children and a sleazy husband. She is desperate to move into a bigger, fancier home and does everything to gather the finances to pay the deposit. However, her naivety lands her in between the numerous construction scams that plague Greater Noida.
Consequently, her cousin sister Kaajal moves to Noida to find a place for herself but struggles urgently for it. Finally, she finds a safe space in a call center which provides phone sex to men. She takes up the screen name Kitty. Though initially cautious, Kitty is slowly able to shrug off her inhibitions and embrace her work. Hence, we find ourselves amidst the two characters and their anxious search for sparkling stars giving us the world of ‘Dolly, Kitty aur woh Chamakte Sitare.’
Shrivastava is successful in responsibly dealing with certain issues. For example, Kitty’s safe space comes in the form of sex positivity in a societal landscape where sex is looked down upon. Moreover, she finds herself to be free only once she is free of the shackles of her virginity. On the other hand, Dolly finds her ‘frigid’ sex life redefined in an affair with a delivery boy. The movie is not wary to be grotesque in its representation of sexual trauma and exploration. We are made to see dissatisfaction of one woman on one hand and traversing of a new way of sexual expression for another. Moreover, misogynistic microaggressions that exist in all workplaces are subtly tackled with. A poignant subplot of an absentee mother is also generously dealt with.
However, there are matters which the movie takes up but dismisses abruptly. It seems like a convenient method of forwarding the plot. However, the two-hour running time is incapable of dealing with these questions aptly. There is presence of Hindutva goons destroying a literal installation of a vagina. The metaphorical implications of it can be understood through the movie to a certain extent. Nonetheless, there is a sudden showcasing of communal violence. This is followed by triggering deaths which are wrapped up almost as snappishly as they are brought up. Additionally, there is a child struggling with their gender identity but very little context or closure given to the storyline.
The movie comes full circle towards the end and gives the audience a sense of victory amidst a dystopic world. Bhumi Pednekar as Kitty and Konkona Sensharma as Dolly are effortless in their roles and bring an irresistible charm to their characters. The supporting characters are played to perfection by Vikrant Massey as Pradeep, Amol Parashar as Osmaan Ansari, Aamir Bashir as Amit Yadav Kubbra Sait as Shazia and Karan Kundra as DJ Gurjar.
All of them fit into the story the movie tries to tells us and none of seem out of place. Shrivastava is seamless in her choice of casting. However, the storyline if made into a longer web series would have more potential to explore the concepts that were fleetingly spoken of. ‘Dolly, Kitty aur woh Chamakte Sitare’ is a fresh exploration into women cinema made by a woman story teller which fits in perfectly into a cozy nook on our Netflix screen.