Are bad deeds with good intentions justified? Does that necessarily make you a bad person? Breathe, an Amazon Original Series, makes us question what holds more value – the action or the intention. Featuring R Madhavan and Amit Sadh in the lead, Breathe is an original series of 8 episodes with a running time of around 40 minutes each and I can tell you that it is totally binge-worthy. The Amazon Prime Original launched last month, on Republic day and thanks to all the publicity surrounding the show, I ended up watching Breathe on the day of its premiere and finished it the very same day.
So, what is Breathe about?
Breathe is psychological thriller, directed by Mayank Sharma, that questions how far can you go to save the life of a loved one? Kabir Sawant (Amit Sadh), a police officer of the Mumbai Crime Branch, puts together the pieces of seemingly unconnected deaths of organ donors that lead to an unlikely suspect – the affable Danny Mascarenhas (R. Madhavan). Danny is a single parent to six-year-old, Josh, who suffers from lung failure, a congenital life-threatening disease, and is in dire need of a lung transplant. Breathe captures Danny’s struggle to save the life of his son, as he tries to create his own fate, to alter his son’s destiny. The difference between a man becoming a ‘Protector’ or ‘Predator’ is simply what is at stake.
Breathe is gripping and kept me engaged, throughout. The first episode set the tone of the series as a dramatic thriller followed by a heavy-duty cat-and-mouse chase. BUT this is just not another crime thriller or another murder mystery. It is also a carefully crafted family drama. And that is what I liked most about Breathe. At every point, you are questioning the actions of the protagonist. You somehow do not know whom to side. I liked the overall treatment of the show. The settings are organic, characters are mostly relatable and each of the 8 episodes end on pretty hard-hitting notes.
Madhavan is superlative as Danny Mascarenhas and he is a huge reason why you would want to keep watching the show. He is vulnerable, confused, strong, fearsome, and fearless – all at the same time! This also marks Maddy’s digital debut and I think it is fantastic to see notable superstars taking interest in online shows. Madhavan gets into the skin of Danny Mascarenhas. We see his immense love for his son and there some scenes which will really move you. On one hand, we see a doting father in him. And on another hand, he is a monster. And not a monster like Alauddin Khilji but someone who can be your next-door neighbour, a friend, a colleague perhaps or just any middle class person. Danny is the soul of Breathe and Madhavan did complete justice to his character. There is however, a lot about Danny, which we still do not know. He seems very regular yet utterly mysterious. I just wished we had a little more insight to his backstory. Amit Sadh too, does a good job of playing the role of a brooding, drunk cop who’s fighting his own demons. Sadh’s irreverent sidekick, sub-inspector Prakash Kamble, played by Hrishikesh Joshi, is also a pleasure to watch.
Breathe is refreshing, shot very well and a much needed break from the sappy family dramas and reality shows ruling Indian television. At some point, however, you do wish that the writing was a little tighter and storytelling, a little crisper and perhaps, more women in primary roles. But nonetheless, the overall plot of Breathe is immersive. The show blurs the line between what is defined as bad and what we define as good. And who decides what is ‘good’? I do not think there is a blanket yes or no answer to any of this. Personally, I find it all so subjective. It is a spectrum and it is largely in the eye of the beholder.
So the question remains, how far can someone go to save a life? I honestly do not know what I would have done if I had been at Danny’s position. Frankly, all of us are so quick to present our judgments about things, people, activities and we rarely get an insight to criminal psychology. But Breathe gives us another perspective – a perspective that we often seem to ignore. The first season ends on a very crucial point which will make you totally look forward to the next season and I am, for one, dying to know who will eventually win this race of good vs evil.
It is amazing how a megabrand like Amazon is investing in Originals in India. It is a great way forward for out-of-the-box content, new talent and fresh storytelling. As a film lover and artiste myself, I find it awesome how makers now have the freedom to explore the extremes and take risks. And let’s get real here – the tastes and demands of viewers have truly evolved. Thanks to the kind of access we have today to world-class global content, we are now much more open to stories that are not formulaic in nature. Like I mentioned before, it is amazing to see A-list celebrities like Madhavan taking interest and investing their time to a project like this. Hopefully, it will not be long before we get to see the likes of Khans, Bachchans and Kumars participating in Amazon Prime Original Series! And after its success with the Vivek Oberoi and Richa Chaddha starrer Inside Edge, comedian Sumukhi Suresh’s Pushpavalli, and YouTuber Biswa Kalyan Rath’s Laakhon Mein Ek, Amazon Prime has now really pushed the envelope by tapping onto a larger audience with Breathe. I am also an Amazon Prime member. So, I have had access to Prime Video at Rs 999/year right now, which is very affordable and totally worth it. This also gives me access to Amazon Prime on its shopping website, which is a nice bonus.
So, if you are one of those who is looking for something edgy to watch this weekend, you should definitely give Breathe Amazon Prime Original a shot!