Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Review: Breathe Into The Shadows (Amazon Prime)

Breathe: Into The Shadows is the latest instance of a story that overstays its necessity, writes VINAYAK CHAKRAVORTY.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Amit Sadh, Nithya Menen, Ivana Kaur, Saiyami Kher

Created by: Mayank Sharma

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Rating: * * (two stars)

In India, where the concept of limited series doesn’t seem to find favour among most digital producers, Breathe: Into The Shadows is the latest instance of a story that overstays its necessity.

Unfortunately, Abhishek Bachchan’s OTT debut gets caught in the very tangles it tries setting up in a bid to create suspense drama. If you are willing to suspend logic, the series builds up intrigue close to the halfway mark. And then, as the narrative moves along, you realise what is basically wrong with the series: it is too longwinded to be a thriller.


In this series of 12 episodes with an average runtime of around 45 minutes each,
Bachchan Junior continues the search for a magic role that might catapult him back to the spotlight. He plays Dr. Avinash Sabharwal, a successful psychiatrist whose happy family picture completes itself with wife Abha (Nithya Menen) and daughter Siya (Ivana Kaur).

The picture is shattered early on, when Siya is kidnapped. The kidnapper has a weird demand – he wants Avinash to commit a series of murders.

Soon Avinash realises the killings he is forced to commit follow a pattern, and adhere to a notion of good and evil that draws from mythology. His targets seem to be picked in accordance to the ten vices that Raavan’s ten heads represent: anger, lust, fear, ego, attachment, regret, hatred, jealousy, greed and insensitivity.

It’s not David Fincher’s Se7en exactly, but on paper Breathe: Into The Shadows must have seemed like an unusual concept. It is a thriller soaked in blood and brutality, with the core concept of evil drawn from one of the most fascinating mythical villains anywhere. Avinash himself is a complex character, you discover, and his layered persona has a direct bearing with the way the plot will progress.

Yet it never quite comes together to set up an appealing entirety. Rather, creator Mayank Sharma and his co-screenwriters (Bhavani Iyer and Vikram Tuli) seem to be making up a story as the show moves, at random piling up any sort of situation that helps maintain a tone of sensationalism.

The impact is absurd, losing your attention with every passing minute after a while as the episodes roll.

After season one was set in Mumbai, the series now moves to Delhi-NCR and so do Mumbai cops Inspector Kabir Sawant (Amit Sadh) and his sidekick, Sub Inspector Prakash Kamble (Hrishikesh Joshi). Like almost everything else in the storyline, the notion defies logic why the pair of Mumbai cops must be shifted to Delhi – perhaps because Sadh and Joshi’s presence lets the makers underline the fact that this story is a part of the Breathe franchise.

Still, Sadh is sure as ever, essentially rehashing the Kabir Sawant prototype with which he impressed in season one. He is not a central protagonist in these Breathe stories yet, when it comes to holding together the series as a whole, the character matters the most.

Abhishek Bachchan makes most of a role that was imagined with a degree of ambition but loses its way owing to unimaginative writing. He sets up believable chemistry as Avinash Sabharwal the shrink with Nithya Menen’s Abha. Saiyami Kher as the sex worker Shirley and Shruti Bapna as the celebrated young author Natasha Garewal make a mark – at least, as much as the weak writing allows them to.

Paatal Lok, Panchayat, Inside Edge and Mirzapur gave the impression Amazon Prime has cracked it, while serving good ‘desi’ stuff on OTT. Breathe: Into The Shadows busts the notion.

READ ALSO: Review: ‘Rasbhari’

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