Digital Review: ‘Breathe: Into The Shadows’ (Amazon Prime)

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After the huge success of his first web-series ‘Breathe’ (2018), there was even more commotion when it was announced that Mayank V Sharma was all set to do a follow-up series titled ‘Breathe: Into The Shadows’. Bringing back Amit Sadh who impressed audiences worldwide as Kabir Sawant, the question that had everyone wondering was, how will the story of Abhishek Bachchan’s addition bring about the same on-screen success as R Madhavan did in the first season.

Psychiatrist Avinash Sabharwal (Bachchan)  lives a very happy and comfortable life in Delhi with his wife Abha (Nithya Menen) and six-year-old daughter, Siya (Ivana Kaur). This is until their daughter is taken from them without a trace. Going against everything Avi knows about kidnappers, they don’t hear anything about the whereabouts of their daughter, until many months later where the kidnapper sends them a video of Siya locked in a room along with another girl he has kidnapped. Using Siya as bate, the masked criminal tasks Avi and Abha to kill different people focusing on the acts of the 10 sins that represent Ravan. With Kabir Sawant (Sadh) having transferred to Delhi to rectify his own wrong, Abhi gets tangled in the investigation that Kabir now leads, attempting to play the police force to lead him to the kidnapper. As more and more victims are announced, Abhi realises he holds a connection with them all. But what are their connections to them and the kidnapper? What is his motive? And will Kabir figure it all out?

Already having proved himself with the first series, Sharma has managed to set the bar even higher with this one. Delving deeper into human behaviour, psychology and mentality, he manages to unravel the storyline with great consideration but only enough to keep the viewer’s mind racing. Unlike his first series however, Sharma has his audiences questioning his main characters motive – and of those around him – more and more as the story goes on. Though some parts of the series are a little slow, it seems to make the viewer all the more impatient to know more. Sharma has done an impeccable job of using the same subject of the love a parent has for a child, and created a completely different kind of story than his last. Though a few links from his 2018 series do come up, it’s not so constant that the viewers’ minds drift. With the help of his brilliant fellow writers Bhavani Iyer, Arshad Sayed, and Vikram Tuli, Sharma has created yet another thrilling series.

Sadh’s return as Kabir is as impressive if not more than his stint in ‘Breathe’. Despite his own storyline in this series being a much simpler one, the audiences get to see the type of cop Sawant must have been before the tragedy of his daughter. As soon as he comes on screen, the viewer instantly forgets Sadh the actor and becomes engrossed into his character instead. Still hard to read, but a much calmer, more focused Sawant, Sadh is able to bring a fresh side to his role that makes him all the more enjoyable to watch. It’s no secret that Bachchan has become rather choosy about the projects he has recently taken on. And all for good reason. Here is a series that enables him to dip in and out of all kinds of emotions and characterisations, all of which he portrays brilliantly. Here’s another story of a parent doing everything for the safety of their child, yet Bachchan plays his character with such complexity that the audiences find themselves second-guessing the more they watch. At every moment they share screen space, both Bachchan and Sadh have their viewers on the edge of their seats. Where it is obvious Sabharwal is playing Sawant and his team at their own game, it’s very unclear whether Sawant knows what’s really happening and is playing along, or if he is in fact completely oblivious to Sabharwal’s treachery. Menen is an equally brilliant addition to the cast. Playing a doting mother who tackles between what constitutes as right and wrong, she seems to be the most relatable character of the lor. Placing herself in situations she never thought she would, Menen represents Abha’s innocence and determination throughout the series, constantly asking the question – would you do the same if in her place? Having Hrishikesh Joshi back as Prakash Kamble is just as impressive. Following his partner to Delhi, Kamble is even more of a delight to watch on screen than before. Plabita Borthakur as Meghna is also a ray of light on screen – playing the girl who seems to give Sawant a new lease of life, her entry to the screen is one audience look forward to. In addition, faces such as Shraddha Kaul, Saiyami Kher and Shruti Bapna makes the series all the more enticing to watch. Another deserved mention has to go to Varin Roopani who plays the younger Abhi Sabharwal. Playing such a gripping and thought-provoking role at such a young age, Roopani proves his brilliant potential. And if this performance is anything to go by, the acting world has much to look forward to.

‘Breathe: Into The Shadows’ is a series that is put together in a simple yet effective way. Though it’s easy to follow, the main thing that viewers hold on to is their anticipation of how this will all end for the Sabharwal family. Similar to the previous series, once again Sharma reveals surprise after surprise, where just when it seems it will all come crashing down, the plot takes another turn. Sharma also opens up another conversation about a taboo subject yet again. Where before the topic of organ donation played centre stage, here it’s about mental health and the complexities of the mind. Again, Sharma has brought the best out of the cast who all made a tough task of depicting these behaviours in the most effortless way. In doing so, questions on how the different levels and ways in which mental health is challenged needs to be addressed much more.

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