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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Warning: Don't hold your breath wondering if Abhishek Bachchan has finally found his groove in his debut digital foray.
Directed by Mayank Sharma, Breathe: Into the Shadows is a psychological thriller that ostensibly delves into how far parents would go to save their only child. When their six-year old daughter Siya (Ivana Kaur) gets kidnapped in the middle of a birthday party, for the Sabharwals, an upper middle-class Delhi couple, it is the beginning of a nightmare.
The moral dilemma psychiatrist Avinash Sabharwal (Abhishek Bachchan) and his wife Abha (Nithya Menen) should have faced is not so much if it's alright to destroy another family in their quest for a fairytale family reunion, but how to go about it in such a manner as to convince the audience it is the only choice they have. And it's here (among other things) that the web series fails spectacularly.
Leaving aside the sheer absurdity of the plot or the inherent weakness of the writing, when you have a lead pair who go about their business like they are caught in some kind of slow-mo dystopian existence, it, unfortunately, rubs off on the viewers as well.
So even though South Indian actress Nithya Menen (Mission Mangal) looks utterly gorgeous, her character comes across as one dimensional. To drive home her role as a big shot chef in a Delhi hotel she's shown artfully garnishing a few plates, because, well, isn't that what all chefs do.
Bachchan Jr gets to suit up in some superbly tailored formal wear and play the broody hotshot doc in a swanky office. The 'villain' in contrast is given only one loud yellow checked hooded jacket, worn over prim buttoned-up shirts, in the entire series.
With the lead pair firmly entrenched in their 'perfectly set' world (their Delhi house looks straight out of Architectural Digest), the onus on making Breathe seem real and relatable rests on the support cast who, we have to admit, do a superb job. Whether it is Plabita Borthakur as the wheelchair-bound ever-cheerful Meghna Verma or Shrikant Verma as Jaiprakash and Hrishikesh Joshi as Prakash Kamble, the utterly relatable Crime Branch members, the rest of the cast go about their job with utter sincerity. But the one who really leaves an impact is Amit Sadh, as the beefy, angst-driven Mumbai police officer Kabir Sawant with anger management issues. Saiyami Kher (Choked) is surely miscast as the stereotypical hooker with a heart of gold, and not because she doesn't perform well, but because she is made for meatier roles.
It doesn't help that the series is 12 episodes long with each one around 45 minutes long that can really test your patience. Even the Ravan analogy, which should have ideally rooted the series fails to be anything other than a superficial psychological trope. The biggest casualty unfortunately in the cat and mouse game played out on the screen, is the serious issue of mental health, which is merely used as a tool to dramatize a story.
A crime thriller, by definition needs to offer up some thrills and though the initial twist, that comes after the first few episodes will make you sit up and take renewed interest in the series, the makers go down the predictable route and you realise very soon that this series definitely is not one worth holding your breath for.
Breathe: Into the Shadows
Director: Mayank Sharma
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Nithya Menen, Amit Sadh, Sayami Kher
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
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