Breathe: Into the Shadows Review: Even the Show’s Fine Actors Couldn’t Make Up For the Moth-Eaten, Lazy Writing

2.0 rating based on 1,234 ratings

Breathe: Into the Shadows is the second season of Amazon Prime’s thriller web series, Breathe. The season is created and directed by Mayank Sharma and has a star cast of Abhishek Bachchan, Nithya Menen, Amit Sadh, Saiyami Kher and Hrishikesh Joshi, among others. It released on the OTT platform on 10 July 2020. Set in Delhi and frequently branching out to the NCR region, Breathe follows the lives of Avinash and Abha Sabharwal whose daughter is kidnapped. It explores the same question as it did in the first season: how far will a father go to protect his child?

Breathe season 1 starred R Madhavan and Amit Sadh in the leads

Months after Siya goes missing, the Sabharwals receive a mysterious package containing a video of her and a set of rules for Avinash: if he wants his daughter back, he has to follow the kidnapper’s rules. Finding himself in the midst of serial murders in the attempt to get his daughter back, Avinash chooses to cover his tracks by joining the very same police force which is tasked towards catching this serial killer. Posing as a psychologist for the task force, as he has been for many years prior, Avinash tries to hold his secret together all the while grieving over his missing daughter and struggling to keep his marriage afloat. Of course his secret unravels as Inspector Kabir Sawant, played by Amit Sadh, slowly discovers that Avinash is not who he claims to be.

Here’s the thing: while the show’s premise may be intriguing, the intrigue fails to hold up through all 12 episodes. What begins as the plot of a single Criminal Minds episode becomes stretched out and boring by the end, thereby dulling any excitement there was. Of course, since this is an Indian crime thriller there had to be mythology incorporated, which seems like a necessary ingredient in any web series recipe. However, the use of the ‘Ravan’ trope felt forced, conveniently placed and then forgotten about, and just irrelevant to the whole narrative. If you remove the entire Ravan analogy, the story remains the same. If this was a tirbute to Bachchan’s 2010 Mani Ratnam film Ravan, it did no justice to that movie at all.

By the end we discover how the kidnapper was Bachchan all along, but not Avinash Sabharwal. It was his second personality, J. Of course. Of course they resort to the oldest story in the book: schizophrenia/multiple personality disorder/ it was him all along. Apart from coming off as forced and outdated, this plot point made for a rather anti-climactic ending.

Source: The Indian Express

Breathe: Into the Shadows has many instances of significance to a changing, progressive Indian society: the little girl is not attracted to princesses who are ‘damsels in distress’ and Nithya Menen plays a mother who is not made ‘hysterical’ by grief — hers is an inward devastation that is expressed poignantly by the talented actor. Of course, Saiyami Kher’s character feels foreign in this world; I have never come across a Julia Roberts-esque prostitute in Indian culture. The police aren’t all bad, they are do-gooders who have been inducted into a system that tries and fails often. However, Shrikant Varma and Hrishikesh Joshi’s characters, the kind and humourous Prakash Kamble and Jaiprakash, are stock policemen created for comic relief; their only purpose seems to be to serve Sawant and crack a joke here and there.

Ultimately, Breathe Into the Shadows wins because of its star cast, with Bachchan displaying incredible restraint in his performance and seamlessly switching personalities that make it entertaining and horrifying to watch. Sadh is frightening and believable, ready to do anything to arrive at the truth. Menen is a fantastic performer and Ivana Kaur, who plays Siya, is wise beyond her years. She performs her role with brevity and grace and is a delight to watch.

If only a star cast was enough to anchor a web series. Unfortunately for Breathe: Into the Shadows, its worn-out, dull script is filled with too many gaping loopholes that even its fine talent cannot fill in.

Watch Breathe: Season 2 on Amazon Prime

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