As you begin watching the first episode of Breathe, an Indian original web series on Amazon Prime, you are drawn into the world of Danny Mascarenes (R. Madhavan)—a single parent hosting his six-year-old son Josh’s birthday party. Here it is revealed in a conversation with a neighbour that it could be his son’s last one. We are simultaneously drawn into the life of Kabir (Amit Sadh) life, an alcoholic cop who we discover is getting over his daughter’s death and shares a strained relationship with his wife.
Brace yourself for some great acting as this series shows you Sadh and Madhavan like you’ve never seen them before. As you watch Sadh as a father reeling in the pain of his past, your instant instinct is to sympathise with him. Sadh has cleverly avoided overdoing the the bit of an alcoholic sans the clichés. Danny is a desperate father who can go to any lengths to save his son who is suffering from a congenital lung disease. Madhavan takes this part to the next level, without making it too dramatic.
The actor we knew as the boy-next-door from movies like Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein and Tanu Weds Manu has evolved into a dark, brooding individual who can do anything to save his son. As the story progresses, you also see a transformation in Sadh who deduces similarities in consecutive deaths that take place, through the duration of the four episodes.
One, however, cannot help but notice certain clichés and coincidences crop up through the episodes like Madhavan reciting lines from the Gita to a family who refuses to donate the organs of their brain-dead father as they believe that cutting up a person may not allow him to attain moksha. Another cliche being Madhavan and the doctor Aruna (Shriswara) developing feelings for each other and him confessing at his wife's grave.
The series addresses the abysmal situation of organ donation in India where in 2016, according to a report, organ donation rate stood at just 0.8 persons per million population. This does compel the viewer to put things into perspective in a society where even molehills are turned into mountains.
The camera work is kept realistic and the fact that there is very minimal or no background score adds to the grim feel of the series. The first two episodes seem slow and loosely written. But as we progress into the third and fourth episodes, curiosity builds up. Overall, Breathe may not be the finest web series out there, but definitely has scope to be great if treated right. It is definitely something to check out as far as performances and story line are concerned.
Cast: R. Madhavan, Amit Sadh, Shriswara, Sapna Pabbi