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January 24, 2018

Review: ‘Breathe’ Is a Gripping Thriller; RIP Madhavan As We Know Him (Source: The Quint)

What’s Breathe?

If you’re a regular audience of online content, you must’ve not missed the publicity blitzkrieg around Breathe - Amazon Prime Video’s second Indian original series after Inside Edge. Featuring R Madhavan and Amit Sadh in the lead, Breathe is a web series of 8 episodes with a running time of around 40 mins each, which begins to stream from 26 January onwards. I got a preview of the first 4 episodes of the series and I can tell you that it is binge-worthy.

Maddy No More

First things first. Let’s say RIP to R Mahdavan as we know him.

That cute, chocolate-faced, boy next door from Alai Payuthey who grew up to become Manoj K Sharma aka Manu in Tanu Weds Manu is no more. Instead, we will now remember him as Danny Mascarenhas, who goes about in the dark of the night wearing a hoodie and killing unsuspecting people. There I said it.

How Far Will You Go?

Breathe has a much overused tag line - ‘How far will you go for your loved one?’ or something on those lines, but where this drama wins is in picking an unusual premise to tell its story.

The very likeable Danny Mascarenhas (Madhavan) is a widower with a 6-year-old son, Josh, who’s suffering from a rare lung disease. The doctors give Josh 5 months more to live, his chances of getting a shot at an organ transplant also looks grim - since Josh’s name has been stuck at number 4 on the list for long time with no chances of being bumped up. Danny resolves to go to any length to save his son, even if it means having to kill off a few innocent body donors, so that Josh’s name makes it to the top of the list as quickly as possible.

On a parallel track, we also meet Kabir Sawant (Amit Sadh), an alcoholic cop, who can’t get over the guilt of his daughter’s accidental death. Kabir is also juggling between a broken marriage, his drinking problem and his need to keep his job by appearing sober and sorted with his team. Kabir begins to slowly piece together a link that seems connect a couple of unrelated deaths that have happened in the city. Will he be able to trace the dead back to Danny Mascarehnas?

A Few Glitches

By the end of the fourth episode, Breathe leaves us with a delicious twist, which could either make or break the unraveling of the rest of Danny and Kabir’s stories. So far the series is gripping and keeps the viewer engaged.

There are a few glitches in the narrative though - one, where Danny parrots verses from the Bhagwad Gita to a Hindu family who tells him that organ donation is against their religion (I mean, come on there’s no explanation given as to why a Catholic football coach would know parts of the Gita by heart).

Two, Amit’s role of the brooding, drunk cop who’s fighting his own demons is one we’ve seen just too often.

But it’s to writer and director Mayank Sharma’s credit that he keeps the viewer hooked and also almost non-judgmental of Danny’s murder trail. Mayank peppers his narrative with some fine detailing - especially those plotted around Danny’s hit jobs. The killing of a young actor which is guised as a suicide is particularly disturbingly shot.

Madhavan is consistently good as Danny Mascarehnas - a man driven to a path of no return by his love for his son, but I would’ve really liked to see a bit more of the inner conflict in Danny’s head and heart come forth. Even though he’s handed a cliched role, Amit Sadh brings gravitas to Kabir Sawant’s intense-eyed moping.

Besides Madhavan and Amit, Breathe also has an interesting and competent supporting cast of actors including Sapna Pabbi, Hrishikesh Joshi and Shriswara.

India's organ donation rate in 2016 reportedly stood at an abysmal 0.8 persons per million population, will a series like Breathe scare people off organ donation further? Well, I don’t think so. We really shouldn’t be taking our entertainment so seriously, but as the Padmaavat controversy tells us - we Indians are experts when it comes to making grotesque mountains out of insipid molehills.

But for now, sit back and binge on Breathe, very rarely do our content creators manage to rustle up a gripping thriller.

The Quint Rating: 3.5 Out of 5

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