Breathe: Into the shadows
On: Amazon Prime Video
Dir: Mayank Sharma
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Amit Sadh, Nithya Menen
Something about watching characters wear masks on screen, when the content has premiered during times of COVID-19, while they were shot much before. Almost feels like Freudian slips for the unknown future they were meant to be consumed in.
Felt this way looking at actor Manoj Pahwa’s uncle-type, with a mask on — because he suffered from a heightened sense of smell — in Rajat Kapoor’s nicely done, very ‘Woody Allenish’ film Kadakh (that dropped on SonyLiv recently).
Watch ‘Breathe: Into the shadows’ Trailer
The same with the hero in Breathe: Into The Shadows. More than once, he shows up in an N95 — that term most of us would not have heard of until March, 2020! What’s he up to? Well this is a suspense-drama, so I’m not going to spoil it for you discussing anything at great length.
The lead actor is credited on screen as Abhishek A Bachchan — assuming A for father Amitabh; Bachchan, of course, being grandfather’s pen-name. Bollywood star for 20 years, Bachchan has a killer part here. Not wholly surprised that he picked this stellar role for his debut in a series.
Except, in a sub-standard script — that could do with multiple re-works, even on paper; let alone sharper re-edits on screen (never too late)! Sure, there are moments/portions here that make you go, “You’re kidding me!”
But less so for the repeated elements of anticipation, created with background score in a constant crescendo — leading up to supposed surprise, after surprise. More so, for multiple leaps of faith, where you also wonder, “No shit — seriously?”
This sequel, on the face of it, seems more complicated than the first. And is way better-looking, in terms of locations, camerawork, etc. What’s thematically common between Breathe 1 and 2, besides the genre? And Amit Sadh, Hrishikesh Joshi, who replay cop, assistant?
That a child is at the centre of the plot. This is quite literally a psychological thriller. Bachchan plays a psychiatrist. His character goes through three ages in the time-line, with none looking like each other! His kid’s been kidnapped. For ransom are a series of instructions, for the father to commit a crime, and save the child.
What follows is the leading man on the move — perennially brooding, introspective; thinking something really hard and deep, and I’m not sure what — besides, planning and executing murder like a pro/mastermind, rather than a practicing doc.
There is the overarching thought of the mythological Raavan hovering somewhere. Unsure if worth reading much into it, vis-à-vis Bachchan in Mani Ratnam’s Raavan (2010). Or that there’s a wheel-chair bound female second-lead here (Prabita Borthakur; she’s adorable), much like Vidya Balan in Ratnam’s another Bachchan starrer, Guru (2007).
Honestly all of this sounds rather good to me (as it does to you). There’s also much to admire about the performances. I mean, really, what’s there not to love about Sadh, totally buffed up as a saandh (bull), for the sequel; the absolutely natural Nithya Menen (as Bachchan’s wife); the two pot-bellied junior inspectors (Joshi, Shrikant Verma) from Bombay and Delhi, doing the tiring BOM-DEL debate.
Here’s what I also knew before I got here. That this show has some serious twists, worth looking out for, and that would hit you really hard. The content boss at Amazon Prime Video told me this. This is an Amazon Original. Of course I’m gonna take that with a sack of salt!
Yet, the foreboding of a twist untold is not the same for a film, where the eventual payoff is hardly a couple of hours away. As against a show such as this, that goes on for 12×45 frickin’ minutes. Can’t even do the math. What is that? Seem to have spent more than a full day, tilting work-life balance to marinate over what could’ve easily been compressed into a four-hour mini-series. Max!
The cliché ‘taut’ remains still the best compliment to pay a masala/entertaining thriller that works for you. This is anything but. Could’ve had intense depth instead. Nope, feels more like Breathe: Into The Shallow. And there is so much breathing space between a sub-plot and the next twist/turn, that you could make a whole new movie in the air-field left open still.
Has that impatience also got something to do with watching content during times of Corona, when nothing in your own life’s interior scenes move at all? There is no external life anyway? At some point I just held my phone, and started walking around with this show, to somehow keep myself engaged. Too slow, bro. Feel well-exercised though. Phew!
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