Windows are the unofficial access into a room’s interior. As a child, I remember curiously peeking through the open windows to catch a glimpse of what families were watching on their television. A window is also an unofficial – sometimes illegal – peak into domestic spaces. Because the window veils, the window hides, and sometimes grants a life-saving peek into another's tumultuous life. In Darlings, Badru and Hamza's domestic life is barely sacred, tainted by emotional and physical abuse – the windows and the people outside them bearing witness to it every day. Hamza is pathologically abusive and turns a deaf ear to Badru’s constant pleas for a better house, a baby, and a better life.
My favorite scene from Darlings is the thirty-second scene that follows Badru’s realization that she had suffered a miscarriage due to her husband. Not only did he almost kill Badru but shattered everything that was important to her. Badru is pushed to the edge – literally – as she stands at the edge of the hospital window. In those brief thirty seconds, Alia Bhatt brilliantly portrays Badru's dilemma: give up everything or stay back. She closes her eyes, about to jump off before taking a deep breath and gazing decisively into the camera. Badru's piercing look is enough to communicate that her story was about to change.
The scene reminded me of Kate Chopin’s short story, Story of an Hour, where a woman trapped in a Victorian marriage tastes liberation for the first time through her husband’s death, as she stretches out into the open window, inhaling the nectar of life. In Badru’s narrative, the open window becomes the metaphor for a life that required action, a life where she would take charge of her own destiny.
Ironically, it is following the punishment she imposes on Hamza that Badru covers up her actual windows so that she is not caught. The open window scene is a decisive moment for Badru, it is the thirty seconds that shape the narrative of the film. For Badru’s life, it is the window of realization, of opportunity, and of change. Darlings might be a dark comedy and seem like a story of vengeance but it is also a story of the tainted and unsafe domestic spaces so many women exist in – most of them without an open window.