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Breathe: Into the Shadows, Review of Web Series by Mayank Sharma

To understand how fundamentally bad Breathe: Into the Shadows is, it is important for us to realize how morbidly effective Breathe was. R.Madhavan appeared in the first season as a football coach who starts murdering organs donors so that his 6-year-old chronically ill son gets moved up on the recipient list who was in need of organ transplant to survive. This also featured Amit Sadh as a possessed Mumbai policeman who tries to hunt down this enigmatic “serial killer”, following his own daughter’s death because of his carelessness. The warped premise succeeded, as the character of Madhavan transforms the show into a mystery of mortality.
Review by Varsha Sahoo

Firstly, he doesn’t actually kill the donors, but he had cleverly found out different ways to make their deaths look as accidents or suicides. Furthermore, the victims are innocent. He wasn’t portrayed as evil scum to help the dark narrator empathize with us. And thirdly, Madhavan is the kind of noble-faced actor from whom we are not seeking edginess. If he tags victims with a helpless parent’s irrationality, it is both the actor and the character that has our view of them. His internal struggle feels genuine, whether that’s a tale of super villain or a sad family drama.

Director: Mayank Sharma
Writers: Bhavani Iye, Vikram Tuli, Mayank Sharma
Star Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Nithya Menen, Amit Sadh
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

Although season-2 a thematic sequel that retains the brooding inspector of the Crime branch tracking a new desperate parent in Delhi refuses all other merits of the 2018 show. The eerie original title theme of Alokananda Dasgupta, too, is “reworked” for no specific cause. It also seems intentional to swap the nuisance greys with solid blacks and whites so that the actors are not burdened with nuanced scenes over 12 long episodes.

It is like all of the vital organs have been removed in physical terms and the pretty body does not move too far. For example, the father here (Abhishek Bachchan as Avinash), is a high profile doctor; a psychiatrist, who doesn’t kill people by choice or will. Avinash’s six-year-old daughter, Siya was abducted by a masked man with a limp who is the kidnapper along with a girl named Gayatri (Medical student) who would take care of Siya as she was diabetic and took 4 shots of insulin daily and also the man who insists Avinash to kill certain people according to ten negative emotions that represent Raavan’s ten heads. Since what is a serious web serious for Indians without a little mythological taadka?

Avinash is not a single parent either; his wife Abha (Nithya Menen) was also his partner in crime. This couple following the instructions of the kidnapper who contacted them after nine months of Siya’s abduction murdered a few exploiting their emotions like anger, lust and fear. A Punjabi old man who was a germophobe is led to a garbage dumping area and killed there whereas Natasha, a gay woman was seduced by Abha and was pulled into the death hole. Avinash and his wife films the entire murder scene of both the cases and sends them to a national news channel as instructed by the masked man by the cells of the victims. Meanwhile another man gets murdered by Avinash keeping the emotion of fear in mind and films this murder too and uploads this clip on social media by the victim’s id.

The kidnapper was smartly dealing with the situation, rather than getting the videos himself he asked them to publicly spread them and startle and confuse the Crime Branch. These victims were innocent though it was later found that they were punished for some mistakes they committed in the past. This viewpoint matches to India’s thought process that revenge taken is justice served. Briefly, they deserve their gruesome fates. Somehow the creators intensify the first season’s few inconsistencies by doubling down on the tangents and peripheral characters.

Coming to the Crime Branch of Delhi which was led by Senior Inspector Kabir Sawant (Amit Sadh), along with two unnecessary side characters as his sub-inspectors. Then there’s a girl who serves as a distraction for Mr. Kabir in Delhi, a physically disabled girl who became disable because of Kabir in near past while dealing with a criminal. Then comes a lady Inspector who doesn’t work much but talks a lot with media and judges Kabir for his work and was jealous of him given the lead to deal with this case.

But most notably, episode 5’s grand twist transforms Breathe into a long-form story of Abbas-Mustan, because it revealed the identity of the kidnapper. At both a psychological and a plot point level, the discovery is so dumb that one cannot help but wonder if the makers just started believing their efforts halfway and just changed the story to exploit the mental illness stereotypes. Everything after this episode becomes a copout. Now that the mask is off the kidnapper was shown in different frames and camera angles to change the perspective of the viewers also, the body language became more pronounced. And eventually the case became more intense and deep for the crime branch to deal with it.

For both the seasons of Breathe the chose the main lead who had a kind and gentle impression on viewers. Nevertheless, no one would have ever thought of seeing Madhavan and Abhishek as murderers. Not to forget Nithya and Amit who had a fascinating screen presence. I can criticize the series more but this much would be enough to conclude and say that the best thing about Breathe: Into the Shadows is Breathe itself.

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