Amazon Original 'Breathe' is a gritty psychological thriller elevated by some brilliant performances

A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature

By Murtaza Ali Khan

R. Madhavan, Amit Sadh, poster


The web has become the battleground for some of the coolest experiments that are taking place in the world of entertainment today. The content on web at large is not only refreshing but also relatable and perhaps that’s why more and more people are looking at the web for their daily dose of entertainment. What's really heartening to see is that a big player like Amazon Prime is now focusing its attention to India for sourcing and producing indigenously produced content. Perhaps, the biggest offering so far is Breathe Amazon Prime Original—a gritty psychological thriller that explores the lives of ordinary people when pitted against extraordinary circumstances.

Directed by Mayank Sharma, Breathe comprises 8 action-packed episodes of roughly 40-minutes each. Breathe stars R. Madhavan, Amit Sadh, and Sapna Pabbi. At the centre of action is Danny Mascarenhas (essayed by Madhavan), a single parent whose six-year-old son Josh suffers from a rare lung disease and requires a lung transplant. When all his efforts to find a donor fail, Danny resorts to getting his hand dirty for the sake of his son. Danny is pitted against Kabir Sawant (Amit Sadh), a maverick police officer of the Mumbai Crime Branch who finds himself on the brink of separation with his wife Ria. While battling with his inner demons, Kabir must put together the pieces of seemingly unconnected deaths of organ donors. A wounded man on mission, he will not stop until the perpetrator is behind the bars. Breathe posses the all important question: How far will you go to save the life of a loved one?

So far 6 of the 8 episodes of the Amazon Original Series have been released and the stakes seems to have only gone higher with each passing episode. At first Danny comes across as a God-fearing man with a strong belief system. In the first episode we see him celebrating his son’s birthday like a regular father but ever since his character arc has been full of surprises. His transformation from a helpless father to a man possessed is nothing short of exhilarating. Danny is the kind of anti-hero that tends to divide the audiences. There would be those who root for him while others would baulk at the extreme choices he makes. I personally wouldn’t want to put myself in Danny’s shoes. One can talk about conscience as much one likes to talk about it but it is just impossible to overlook a father’s love for his dying child. It is only natural to expect him to do whatever in his power to make his son live. But at the same time there is a fine line that separates a ‘Protector’ from a ‘Predator’ and often it is difficult to differentiate them.
Amazon Original 'Breathe' R. Madhavan, birthday scene
R. Madhavan as Danny Mascarenhas in Amazon Prime Original Breathe
R. Madhavan is simply mesmerizing to watch. It wouldn’t be a hyperbole to describe it as the performance of a lifetime. Yes, over the years, we have seen him in a variety of roles across different platforms but his portrayal in Amazon Original ‘Breathe’ beats them all hands down. I daresay Madhavan has never looked more focused in a role. It is as if he was born to play Danny Mascarenhas who shape-shifts with effortless ease from a benevolent father to a dangerous man with an ulterior motive. In the past we have seen Madhavan play regular guys but in Breathe one gets to see a completely different side of the charismatic actor—one that we probably thought didn’t exist. The most fascinating part about his performance in Breathe is how it constantly plays with our emotions. Of course, we want Danny to save his boy but at the same time we dread the deadly path he chooses to tread.

Danny’s nemesis is played by Amit Sadh. Sadh is another talented actor who after making a name for himself in television graduated to movies—Abhishek Kapoor’s ‘Kai po che!’ being his first major Bollywood film. His portrayal of Kabir Sawant in Breathe is in many ways his breakthrough role. It’s just incredible to see an actor like him unleash his raw, untapped talents while essaying a rebellious character. Again the performance is not one-dimensional. There are several layers to the character. Here is a man who probably hates his job rather than loving it. But since he is going through a difficult phase in his personal life he wants to keep busy and his police job serves as an asylum of sorts. Despite the lack of sleep and despite being inebriated he is quite capable of doing his job. He is sharp and has unusual methods but they work well for him. Sadh shares some nice scenes with Sapna Pabbi who plays his estranged wife in the Amazon Original. Both Sadh and Madhavan bring their ‘A’ game to the table, leaving a single stone unturned to make Breathe a riveting experience.
Amazon Original 'Breathe' Amit Sadh, gun in his hand
Amit Sadh as Kabir Sawant in Amazon Prime Original Breathe
Often we hear people complaining about the lack of engaging content. I think Breathe is just the kind of stuff that would provide the perfect answer to all their queries. The USP of Breathe is its brilliant performances. And I don’t only mean Sadh and Madhavan, for the supporting cast, featuring the likes of Hrishikesh Joshi, Neena Kulkarni, Shri Swara, and Atharva Vishwakarm, is equally brilliant. Apart from acting, Breathe works well on various other fronts as well. Not only does it have good production values but it also has a good story to tell and that makes all the difference in the world. The direction, editing, sound design, etc. are all topnotch. Breathe is a reminder that a good story is not only universal but also platform agnostic. Credit goes to Amazon Prime for backing up such interesting projects despite the obvious risks associated with them. I am sure that Breathe is just the first of many more Amazon original series to come. 

With two more episodes to go, I just can’t wait to see how the story ends! Will the relentless cop catch the killer? Will Danny be able to save his son? Who will the next victim be? Will Kabir succeed in delivering justice?     

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!  

Breathe - Amazon Original - Trailer (YouTube)





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