Digital Review: ‘Breathe’

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Just having the Amazon Prime Original tag would have made audiences have certain expectations of Mayank V Sharma’s ‘Breathe’. After the success of ‘Inside Edge’, this is the second of the Indian variety to feature on Amazon Prime and it is, arguably, one web series that simply cannot and should not be missed.

R Madhavan steps into the role of Danny Mascarenhas, a father whose son is waiting for an organ donor. When his condition deteriorates, Mascarenhas sets out to do all he absolutely can to ensure his son’s life can be prolonged, leaving no stone unturned. On the opposite end, Amit Sadh essays the role of Kabir Sawant, part of the Mumbai Crime Branch. He understands his wife’s life is in danger and then sets out to protect her. These two men’s stories become intertwined and rather unexpectedly, their lives change forever.

It has to be said that Sharma has written the story of ‘Breathe’ to such perfection that his direction only adds to the lure and clock-ticking unravelling that the narrative unfolds to show. The attention to detail and the human factor is something that’s so identifiable that it never makes you question the irrational behaviour of the characters. This is definitely something major when a loving father starts to almost live a double life but, as a member of the hooked audience, you never seem to bat an eyelid. Applause should definitely go to Sharma for the treatment he’s placed on the story to make the audiences feel this way all through the eight episodes.

As far as performances go, it should be compliment enough that you simply cannot imagine anyone but Madhavan and Sadh in the roles of Mascarenhas or Sawant. They don’t share any scenes at all for so many episodes but you never feel that the stories aren’t linked in any way, as you try and decipher how the plot will bring them to cross each other’s paths. Madhavan’s depiction as Mascarenhas is earthy, greatly convincing and shows off his versatility again. Those who are aware of the actor’s previous work will know that there’s very little that he can’t do to persuade audiences of but in ‘Breathe’, he manages to do this at another level altogether. You believe that he is the doting father but you also believe in his way to make sure his son is gets the life-saving treatment he needs. As for Sadh, his intensity is just what Sawant’s character needed. From being an almost lost soul dealing with a life-changing moment of his recent past, to a police officer who never gives up, to a man who believes he’s the only person responsible for the safety of his wife… Sadh brings vigor, emotion and a certain sense of je ne sais quoi to the role which it wouldn’t have been as effective without. The scenes that Madhavan and Sadh eventually share together make the story even more unforeseeable but with the added ingredient of their chemistry to keep audiences even more satisfied and captivated. As always, the ensemble cast were also a joy to watch – including Sapna Pabbi, Neena Kulkarni and Anuj Sachdeva. The young boy who plays Madhavan’s son Josh, Atharva Vishwakarma, is also an actor who should be appreciated.

With Mascarenhas and Sawant pitted against one another for the ones they love, it’s difficult to predict how the story can have a happy or acceptable ending. However, the climax scenes are just genius and audiences simply aren’t able to predict how the story will turn out. This is one more plus-point for ‘Breathe’ and is something that helps it stand out massively. However, what it also manages to do is bring some interesting underlying themes to the limelight – such as organ donation, such as desperation of family members, such as mental wellbeing. For this, it is not just Sharma’s very well-written story which is to be commended but also the actors for bringing a real humane sense to the characters who live through those themes which are so true to real life.

The only good thing about the first season of ‘Breathe’ now coming to an end is that a binge watch of the entire eight episodes is possible. However, the even better thing about its completion is that it has shown that the bar has been set high for future web-series on Amazon Prime or other platforms. It shows that, after ‘Inside Edge’, audiences can look forward to sterling content from India, from the innovators and the newbies but also from those who are well-established in their entertainment careers. The digital arena is full of possibilities and with ‘Breathe’, these are all laid bare for those who should be sitting up and taking notice – especially if they’ve not done so before.

Audiences will definitely agree that a second season of ‘Breathe’ is already being awaited and one can only hope that it is on its way very soon.

BizAsiaLive.com rating: 4.5/5

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