Breathe: Into the Shadows, is a 12 episode long psychological crime thriller streaming currently on Amazon Prime. The show is excruciatingly long, it tires you out and even if you manage to watch all the 12 episodes, it leaves you high and dry. Breathe lacks the charisma to hold the attention of the audiences.
Avinash Sabharwal (Abhishek Bachchan), a well-to-do psychiatrist, lives in Delhi with his wife, Abha (Nithya Menen) who is a chef, and daughter Siya. It is the same old story of a happy family when one day their world shatters. Siya gets kidnapped from a birthday party, leaving her parents in agony.
They try and try to find her, but their efforts go down the drain. Nine months pass in anticipation and no call from the kidnapper for any ransom or anything. It gets hopeless for the parents to await the return of their daughter. Then, suddenly, after 9 months, the couple receives a package that has an iPad in it and a note which asks them how far are they ready to go to ensure the safety of their daughter?
On the iPad, they see that their daughter is safe and sound and with an elder girl who was also kidnapped earlier. They get excited to see Siya. But then the kidnapper comes in front of the screen, his face covered with a clay mask, asking them to do something to make sure that their daughter is safe and sound.
Siya suffers from juvenile diabetes and is required to take insulin shots four times a day. The kidnapper threatens the parents that if they do not follow his instructions, he will not provide insulin to Siya. The parents get terrified. The kidnapper asks them to murder someone.
They begin contemplating whether they should do as the kidnapper has asked them or should they go to the police. Lastly, their desperation to see Siya takes over and Dr. Avinash Sabharwal sets forth on his mission to kill the person as asked by the kidnapper.
Once they are done with it, they think they will get their daughter back but instead, they receive another iPad with instructions to another murder. The inflow of these free iPads seems funny at some time.
The murders do not stop, and the case is handed over to the Crime Branch. Kabir Sawant (Amit Sadh), the cop from the first season gets this investigation when he takes a transfer from Mumbai to Delhi. After three murders, Kabir cracks the case when the audiences are drained after watching the 50-minute long 12 episodes.
There are several supporting characters in the series but none of them have been awarded enough space. Not even Amit Sadh. All the screen space is given to Abhishek Bachchan. There is just too much of him in the screenplay.
Breathe fails to keep up the anxiety of the audience after the first 30 minutes of the first episode.
The repetitive dialogues along with repetitive acting drain the audiences out. The screenplay manages to gain the attention of the audience for some time in episode 3 or 4. Just as the audience starts getting curious about who the kidnapper is, the writer very conveniently, set it on a plate, similar to how Abha plates her dishes and serves it to the audience in episode 5.
After the revelation, there is nothing much left to watch in Breathe. The audience wants to know the story of the kidnapper, again, writer Mayank Sharma presents it to the audience on a plate.
Breathe has nothing new to offer the audience. The story seems like a really jumbled up puzzle whose each part has been taken up from somewhere and when you put these parts together, a new story comes forward.
While watching the series, I felt that the unimportant topics were stressed upon too much and the topics which required stressing upon, were just brushed away.
The non-linear nature of the narrative becomes irritating for the audience because it gets unpleasant. There are so many sub-plots in the series, but nothing very fruitful comes out of them. To move the hearts of the audiences, the main questions which should have been answered was how did Avinash and Abha feel after the killings?
That question could have been the trigger point of Breathe but for some reason unknown to me, the writer skips that part. Except for a moment here or there, Breathe becomes a cold-hearted slaughter of people.
It is said that the story is the heart of the film, but in the case of Breathe, overwriting has led to its death. The background score and cinematography are good, but they are overshadowed by writing and editing.
You will want it to end as soon as possible because it will start getting on your nerves. The denouement is very predictable.
The direction is terrible and the story does not help the situation. The main plot in each episode is only about 15 minutes maximum, the remaining 35 minutes is just dragging the plot and nothing else.
You will notice a lot of similarities in the plot from other web series which are recently released in the same genre.
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The series was shot in January, well before the coronavirus outbreak, on top of that, when you see the killer and other people wearing N-95 masks, it will give you an unsettling feeling because of the current situation.
There are some parts that are effective in the storyline, such as childhood trauma and the long-lasting effect it has on the mind of a child. But, other than that Breathe fails to please the mind of an alert audience who will know the killer right from the beginning.