Friday, 21 August 2020

TV Review - Breathe - Amazon Prime

Suspension of disbelief is a term that most filmmakers and screenwriters, as well as audience members and critics, are subconsciously relying upon whenever making (the former) or watching (the latter) a film or television series, especially anything that has to do with the words ‘thriller’ and ‘serial murders’. However what Breathe, Amazon’s Indian web series starring R. Madhavan and Amit Sadh, asks you to do isn’t just suspension of disbelief, it’s a complete suspension of all rational thinking and logic, as well disregarding how medical institutions, hospitals, law enforcement, and Mumbai’s traffic works.

Breathe Season 1 Review

The premise is simple enough and revolves around one question — “To what lengths will you go to save the ones you love?” To the show’s credit, it doesn’t waste any time in answering that question as by the end of the second episode, we have a clear idea of what the protagonist — Danny Mascarenas (played by R. Madhavan) — is willing to do to save his son Josh from dying at the hands of a terminal disease. You see, Josh is suffering from Cystic Fibrosis, and requires an immediate lung transplant to live. Given his rare blood group (AB negative), he is fourth on the donor list, and since he only has about six months to live, that’s pretty much a death sentence.

Not content on letting his son die, Danny decides to play god himself and starts targeting Mumbai’s AB negative organ donors to start pushing Josh up the donor list. It’s a horrible, upsetting, and morally corrupt character arc that the show tries really hard to project as being more grey than black or white. Unfortunately, the show fails at achieving this objective, and as it progresses, it gets harder and harder to root for Danny. One of the main reasons for this has to do with how quickly Danny’s character goes from zero to a hundred on the evil scale. It’s a perplexing transformation that seems neither organic nor justified, even when taking into account Josh’s tragic diagnosis.

Breathe Body Parts Review

The series also introduces us to Kabir Sawant (played by a brooding Amit Sadh), a divorcee and alcoholic cop who has his own demons to deal with. Regardless of his personal issues, however, Kabir is good at his job, and it doesn’t take long before the show puts both Kabir and Danny in a cat and mouse race with each other, especially as the stakes keep increasing for Kabir.

This is a novel premise that could have made for a genuinely smart and thrilling nail-biter, had it not been for the meandering and predictable screenplay, uneven tone, and a badly written ending that leaves you with more questions than answers. There are only so many leaps in logic you can take before you start tuning out from a show, and with Breathe, you’ll be tuning out a lot sooner than later.


Breathe The Promise Review Amazon

The acting, unfortunately, is also not up to the mark. Amit Sadh (a brilliant, underrated actor who really hasn’t gotten his due) plays Kabir as a one-dimensional cliche that we’ve seen just too many times in too many films and TV shows. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that his character is named Kabir! Madhavan too seems miscast as Walter White lite, and is not able to either justify the character’s sudden transformation, or seem believable during moments of internal conflict. The supporting cast is better, with Hrishikesh Joshi, Kali Prasad Mukherjee, and Jayashree Venketaramanan (terrific in a guest spot in the show’s best episode) delivering solid work.

There was potential here, with flashes of originality scattered throughout the first half of the series, however by the time you finish the show, you’ll be the one feeling breathless, and not for the right reasons.

Rating - 1.5/5 

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