‘Breathe: Into the Shadows’ reflects the sociology of today’s times

The themes of the time reflect the sociology of the collective.

By Author  |  Published: 14th Jul 2020  8:09 pm

Mayank Sharma goes through the rigmarole of crime, killing, hate in his ten-episode narrative of a couple forced by a blackmailer who holds their 6-year-old to ransom. Cinema, its new incarnation included, is a continued reflection of the times. The themes of the time reflect the sociology of the collective.

‘What society in its collective likes to watch’ is a product of the milieu. Three series have made it to the various platforms in recent times: Pataal Lok, Aarya, Family Man, and now BITS. All violent, all dealing with the underbelly, all concentrating on style and spending a lot of raw stock on crime, terror, hate. Is there a larger story untold and to be understood? A worrisome thought indeed.

Cinema – in its varied avatars – continues to focus on the ‘theme of the times’ reflects the “substantive spirit” of the times we live in. As we move from Ekta’s woman guile spite venom and intrigue, we move on to the OTT with the social underbelly in full display. It is a tad worrisome that films ‘celebrate’ consistently and continuously work in the sphere of the dark and clumsy. In short: Celebrate Darkness. May be this is the time to swim in ‘The Darkness of Noon’ with due apologies to Arthur Koestler.

Dr Avinash Sabharwal (Abhishek Bachchan, a psychiatrist) is happily married to Abha (Nithya Menen, a food blogger) with a child Siya (Ivana Kaur, a juvenile diabetic). Siya goes missing from a birthday party — with a typical masked kidnapper with a limp walk in and out with the victim. It is months before the kidnapper gets in touch with the couple. Money, however, is not the ransom. The kidnapper has a unique demand and a special target: Pritpal Singh (Kuljeet Singh). Siya is a juvenile diabetic and is being taken care of by the kidnapper who earlier has also kidnapped a medico Gayatri (Resham Shrivardhan).

Predictably the earlier episodes deal with the ‘nice family’ – that of the victim and then the next victim namely Pritpal Singh – the victim gone, in walks inspector Kabir Sawant (Amit Sadh) who himself is out from jail.

The couple have the greatest challenge: do they go to the police or succumb to the demands of the kidnapper? Since they choose the latter, you have the 10-episode series of killings and murder. In the first few episodes, the identity of the kidnapper is kept under the wraps and for a short while, even the cause. When that becomes known, what remains is a mopping of the selected victims, the search by the police who seem apologetic even as the media goes overboard.

Kabir and Zeba (Shradha Kaul) are after all searching for a needle in a haystack amid the intra-team jealousy, Kabir’s problems with anger management. The investigation now under Kabir has two leading assistants in JP (Srikant Varma) and Prakash Kamble (Hrishikesh Joshi). Parallelly, Dr Avi joins the investigation team as the consultant psychiatrist. His job of having to chase the hound and save the hare is part of the thrill that Mayank Sharma constantly deals with.

The narrative predictably has its ups and downs. The script would have done well to chop huge parts and deal with certain unstated facets to make the tale more absorbing. Also, in concurrent space is the attempt by Gayatri and Siya to plan an escape.

Episode 7 changes tracks and moves into tracking the killer and detailing his psyche. Too much detail effects the grip of the narrative. Suddenly seeming target No 3 Shirley (Saiyami Kher) enters the narrative even as the script is fighting to establish the logic for choosing victim No 1. Strangely, the similar explanation for choosing No 2 is already done and dusted. Anger, Lust and now Fear. The next victim ready to be attacked at the instance of the kidnapper is Angad Pandit (Pavan Singh).

‘BITS’ gets busy clearly suggesting that too many middle overs have gone in occupying the crease. The script suddenly begins to bang and hurry. The final two episodes get busy in mopping up operations. While episode 8 is the least impressive, episode 7 is the best.

The disappointments: the length and the celebration of violence a near social theme of the days. The script could surely have been laid out.

Take aways: Most in the cast carry out their tasks with professional ease. Special mention about Hrishikesh Joshi, Nizhalgal Ravi, Resham Shrivardhan, Shruti Bapna. Special mention must be made of Amit Sadh. He runs along with the protagonist Abhishek Bachchan. AB is awesome. An excellent actor lost inexplicably to mainstream cinema. He is brilliant in some episodes and consistent in all. ‘Breathe’, unfortunately, strives to suffocate and succeeds.

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