Breathe: Into The Shadows tells the tale of a modern, upper-middle-class family unwittingly caught up in a maelstrom that threatens their very existence. It takes them to the edge of hell and leaves them gasping for survival, pulling the viewer along for an emotional ride along with them.
Avinash Sabharwal (Abhishek Bachchan), is a successful psychiatrist who often works with the police. He’s a dedicated husband to Abha (Nithya Menen) and a loving father to Sia (Ivana Kaur). Sia has diabetes and has to be constantly monitored because of it. But apart from that their lives seem set. Inspector Kabir Sawant (Amit Sadh), serving six months sentence in Nashik Jail gets assaulted but is reinstated in the Mumbai crime branch after coming out from the hospital. He requests a transfer to Delhi and gets it. We’re also introduced to Shirley (Saiyami Kher) who happens to be a high profile call girl. The life of the Sabharwals gets topsy turvy when Sia gets abducted. The police aren’t able to do anything. After nine months, they’ve given up all hope. That’s when they get a mysterious package giving them proof of life. Sia will be sent back to them, provided Avi murders someone in turn. Whether he goes through the plan forms the crux of the story. It’s a slow burner, taking us leisurely through the life of the individuals involved.
The first part of the series revolved around Madhavan, who played a distraught father attempting a series of murders so that his ill son gets higher up the list of organ recipients and gets cured. Continuing the theme of a desperate parent willing to do anything for his child, the second season gives us the same kind of premise but sets it in Delhi.
The series is shot in actual locations. And it’s shot in such a way that we feel like we’re part of what’s happening. The screenplay has an immersive quality to it. It asks us to put ourselves in the place of the people concerned before making a judgement. The mystery quotient is better than that of the first season. There we knew about Madhavan from the start but here the identity and motives of the masked person pulling the strings are kept hidden. He seems to be an evil genius, but apart from that, we don’t get much of a clue. The series puts the couple in situations that turn increasingly difficult as the episodes progress and one can’t help but be moved by their plight. A pattern, connecting all the players involved doesn’t jump out outright. The plot keeps you guessing and that’s the strength of the series.
The good thing about such shows is that the actors have to underplay the emotions, unlike in the films, where being loud is part of the game. Breathe part 2 forms the digital debuts of Nithya Menen, a popular name down South, as also of Abhishek Bachchan. Both are proven performers and bring out their best here as well. Both make you believe they’re a careworn couple who are ready to do anything to get their daughter back. They showcase the chemistry of two people who know each other in and out and share a deep, caring bond. OTT platforms are a new destination for both Nithya and Abhishek and look like they are ready to stay. Amit Sadh sports a buffed up look in the second instalment. It kind of suits him. His character has his own demons to slay and he plays the strong, silent troubleshooter with plenty of panache. Saiyami Kher has been evolving into a dependable performer with every transition. First Choked and now this — it looks like she has found her groove. Hrishikesh Joshi as Amit Sadh’s Mumbai colleague and Shrikant Verma as his new Delhi subordinate have their moments as well.
In a nutshell, Breathe: Into The Shadows is a psychological thriller that keeps you guessing, mixing a bit of folklore and mythology in the narrative. The long narrative form has given the director a chance to tell a fleshed-out tale. There is a constant surprise factor in each episode, which adds to its overall appeal.