Amazon Prime has vowed to bring in Indian content on its streaming platform. It began with Inside Edge, an extremely well-made web series. The streaming giant has a couple of Indian cartoon series too. Now, it’s biggest Indian endeavor is Breathe, a web series that stars R Madhavan, Amit Sadh, Sapna Pabbi, Neelam Kulkarni and Atharva Vishwakarma.
Madhavan is Denzil Mascheranas, a widower who lives with his mother Juliet (Neelam) and son Josh (Atharva). Josh suffers from organ failure and can live only if he gets on top of an organ donor list. He needs people with a particular blood group to donate organs. Overcome with emotion and a need to keep his son alive, Denzil hatches a plan that will save his son – kill all the organ donors of the blood group so that the organs are donated faster and simpler.
Breathe is a well-made web series. With this being Amazon Prime’s second outing for India, they have retained the production values that are expected fo them after the incredibly well made Inside Edge.
What works in Breathe is the enthusiasm with which the main leads portray their characters – both flawed, one because of his past and another because of what he aims to do. Madhavan, as well as Amit Sadh, know the context and the concept and tackle their characters well. Sapna Pabbi has a smaller role but gives a good performance. At least in the initial episodes, Atharva Vishwakarma excels in whatever scenes he has.
Breathe is unique in the fact that it does away with the ‘slasher-serial-killer’ kind of thriller that doesn’t require too much of intelligence for the script, but relies mostly on gore and pulp action. Here, the scriptwriters take the pains to make a character who will chart out and manage not one but three murders.
Breathe, at the core of it, is a thriller, and all thrillers by default need to have no loopholes. Unfortunately, Breathe cannot do that. The series’ logic starts faltering from the very beginning. The Donor’s list that Danny wants is available to him with just a simple burglary – and that too carried out by a first-timer. Even if it is that easy to get this ultra-important list is real life, the way it’s enacted in this series doesn’t impress.
A police officer drinking on duty is not just a lame character analysis but illogical. India has a law wherein you actually can’t drink in the open. That a police officer is shown breaking that particular law – hipflask be damned – is just plain stupid. Those sequences will definitely stand out for anyone – and I guess that’s most of us – who have been heckled by a police officer for opening an alcoholic beverage on the streets, in the auto, etc. This hip-cask carrying police officer doesn’t feel right in 2018.
What Breathe hasn’t succeeded in doing as yet is call out the atrociousness of the concept. A man with a son who’s dying is killing off people who are organ donors. This no doubt makes a great concept, but at the core of it, it is one that’s inherently immoral one. Leaving it as an ‘it happens’ is a cardinal mistake. Even Hollywood pulp films that work on the ‘hostage drama’ concepts call out how atrocious, audacious the idea of some people succeeding in holding some other people hostage is.
In a nutshell, Breathe is not very different from the thriller films that the Indian audiences saw in the late 90s and 2000s that hit the theaters. It retains the audience’s interest because the cast is in stellar form and all around, there is this aura that this one is made for the matured audience and not someone looking for Hollywood spin-offs. Breathe is supposed to be an 8 episode series – so it still has 4 episodes to salvage the series. Breathe is now streaming on Amazon Prime.