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In Breathe Amazon Gives Us A Thriller Series That Won’t let Us Breathe

Breathe

Starring R Madhavan, Amit Sadh

Rating: *** ½(3 a half stars)

As if the troubles  over Padmaavat and the barrage  of flops were  not enough, Breathe the thriller-drama webseries  from Amazon which premiered  on January 26, gives Bollywoodmore reason  to worry. It is a thriller so  riveting in design, and so cunningly executed that you would never feel the weight of  the manipulation that carries us from episode to episode.

I  was hooked  from the word  go, when in a preamble that rivals the opening montage  of the James Bond films—spoiler ahead–a young  girl is seen wrapping her head with plastic to commit suicide on camera.

It’s an astounding opening to a cat-and-mouse thriller packaged and  executed with the panache and  precocity  of a Clint Eastwoood cops-and-robbers films,replete with dialoguesthat embrace  colloquialism and conceits  without filtering,  but with more time to let the characters and grow…and well, breathe…than allowed  in  a feature film.

While it would be imprudent to give  away  the many twists and turns as  the drama  unfolds, suffice  it to say that the production design and  the  manner in which the camera  captures the frenzy and anguish  of the two protagonists , both perched precariously on  the precipice of self-destruction, is  a testimony to the testosterone level that the series aspires to an largely, achieves.

The  performances  range  from the outstanding to the  extremely competent. There  is  no scope  or patience for  tackiness in profile personality or  performance here, as one expertly-executed incident  supersedes another with barely any breathing space. Special mention must be made of  Amit Sadh as  a burnt-out cop—obviously inspired by the genre’s  swaggering prototype  from Hollywood…you know, the  cop who is grieving and drinking and sulking and abusing constantly? The last time  an actor in Bollywood pulled off such an act with credible flamboyance  was  Randeeep Hooda in Jannat 2.

Amit Sadh  imparts  his own individual stamp on the part. He gets terrific support from Marathi actor Hrishikesh Joshi as his family-oriented erectile-dysfunctional partner. There is a brilliant sequence  in  the second episode where Sadh’s cop character visits  Joshi’s home . The responses of his family to the visitor are astutely  authentic and  engaging.

But above all Breathe  is a triumph for Madhavan. As Danny, a straitlaced  uprightwhitecollar  man and a grieving desperate father who goes to shocking lengths to save his little son’s  life, Madhavan expresses grief, rage, frustration, guilt, repentance and self-destruction  with measured excellence. This  is  a showcase for an actor at  the peak of his power. And  boy, does Madhavan embrace  the opportunity!

There  is an anguished  plea for human-organ donation underlining the drama of dysfunctional morality.But except for one sanctimonious outburst in a hospital lobby whereMadhavan tries, rather naively,  to convince the son of  a dying man  to donate  his  organs with statistics thrown in for good measure, you are not subjected to moralizing in the 8-part series

 A  lot of detailing has gone into  making  the plot and its execution uniformly watchable. You  will find it hard to resist watching the entire series in one go.But then, the beauty of  a finite series is that it keeps you talking about the  plot and characters until the  next episode. Breathe gets that, and almost everything else, right.

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