‘Shah Rukh Khan Empowered Our Vision, Backed Us With Whatever We Needed’ Says Darlings Director Jasmeet K Reen | Exclusive

Jasmeet K Reen managed to put together a dream cast for her debut feature film, Darlings, with Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt as producers. Alia also headlined the film, which released on a streaming giant like Netflix. Darlings, after releasing on OTT, went on to garner immense critical acclaim and appreciation from the audience. For a debutante director, this is nothing short of a miracle.

Darlings is now going to have its world television premiere on Zee Cinema on January 29 at 12pm. Jasmeet is curious to see how the TV audience reacts to the film now. In an exclusive conversation with News18, she elaborated on how she managed to put the film and its team together, especially Shah Rukh Khan’s reaction when she narrated the script to him. Excerpts:

After the success on OTT, are you excited about finding new audiences through the television premiere?

I am curious to know how the television audience will perceive it. So I am very excited. Eveyone perceives your film differently – some people think it is a comic thriller, some think it is a mother-daughter relationship story, some think it’s a toxic marriage story. Although the film has all of these as part of a larger story, everybody comes out with a different take.

How has the success of Darlings changed things for you?

My life is the same. I am back to writing. When you make your first film, it’s important that your voice connects with people. Now that we have got a lot of love, it pushes me to do better, and write something that can engage and entertain the audience in the same way.

How did you manage to get Red Chillies and Alia Bhatt to produce your very first feature film, and release it on a major platform like Netflix?

I took the script to Red Chillies, they like it, I narrated it to Shah sir. He liked it, and then we took it to Alia, she instinctively liked it as an actor and then she wanted to produce it. Once that happened, it was a dream cast for me. After Alia came on board, we started casting the rest of the actors. Credit goes to Alia and Shah sir, they let me cast the people I wanted and respected. With Vijay Verma, Shefali Shah and Roshan Matthew, they are amazing actors. When we approached Shefali, it was the first time I met her. We had a long chat and I figured that she was Shamsu. Vijay had a tricky character, I wanted him to look different from Gully Boy. It was a brave choice for him. We cast Roshan after that. I met him on Zoom, it was a bit strange because the pandemic had hit.

It’s a tricky genre, a dark comedy, and you need actors who can be on the same page. And that’s your job as a director too. I work a lot on characters. I like complex characters, it excites me. But the credit goes to the directors for giving me this cast. I am actually spoilt.

When you narrated the story to Shah Rukh Khan, what was his reaction?

I think he liked it, that’s why he decided to back the film. Meeting Shah sir is always a learning experience. You will learn about film, art or life. Because there is so much he has to give. When he heard the script, he had a couple of very good suggestions. We worked on those, and then we took it to Alia. He just empowered our vision. He backed us with whatever we needed.

What is the kind of reaction and feedback that you received from the audience with respect to the humour and twists in the script?

This was a talented bunch of actors, but the way they approached it, it was very real. Which was required for people to connect with the film. When Zulfi says, ‘Mujhe toh khala cute lagti hai’, I had told Roshan, that Zulfi, in his life had never thought that he will tell Shamshu that he likes her. He was thrown into the situation, he just blurted it out of complete fear. So, all of us knew that the actors just had to speak the line, the comedy will come out of the situation. The mother-daughter are speaking out of fear and tension mostly.

When it became such a big success on OTT, did you wish you had released it in theatres?

As a filmmaker, you want more and more people to watch the film. That’s what we have already got out of Darlings. And now that it is coming on ZEE Cinema, it’s a world television premiere, so obviously, more people are going to watch it. Lot of people said that, I think it is a compliment. I just made the film as a story I wanted to tell, then it’s the producers’ decision how they wanted to release it. And we have received so much love, I am just grateful for that.

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