Dobaaraa review: Not a signature Anurag Kashyap film, but enjoyable with Taapsee's amazing performance

Dobaaraa is a vast improvement on the Spanish original Mirage but a most unlikely Anurag Kashyap film

Photo courtesy: Social Media
Photo courtesy: Social Media

Namrata Joshi

One normally would have viewed an original film first before watching its remake. In the case of Dobaaraa and Mirage I did it the other way round and ended up finding the 2018 Spanish original unbearable, what with its tediously messy story, protracted and plodding narrative, and over the top performances.

Yes, not all original works can be sacrosanct. Anurag Kashyap does manage to spruce up and smarten things vastly over Mirage and Dobaaraa is decent, fun and engaging even if a slight, light and minor time loop thriller. It keeps you nicely guessing for a while, but the seeming intrigues and intricacies, like the original, eventually don’t cut deep. Things get muddled up towards the end in a way that you do notice oddities without quite getting into seriously questioning them. Well, let all remain well that ends well.

Anay, a kid back in 1996, on a night of thunder, storm, and lighting, witnesses some strange goings-on in the neighboring house that has repercussions on his own destiny. 26 years later, on another stormy night, a video recorder he had left on while snooping around and a TV set are found by Antara (Taapsee Pannu) who comes to live in the same home. They make her connect with Anay across time. The interaction helps him change the course of his life. 2:12 am doesn’t play out the same anymore. But what of the repercussions on Antara’s own life and on her husband Vikas (Rahul Dev) and daughter Avanti? Will DCP Anand (Pavail Gulati) help her make sense of the altered reality she appears to have got stuck in?

It’s not as though you don’t see things coming. There are very predictable touches to the guessing game and the big reveals are not quite stunning or shocking either. But you do go along uncomplaining as two lives unfold parallel to each other, and the puzzle is mapped out and solved in time travel.

Nihit Bhave’s script is clever, if not intelligent and plays on the emotions rather well. What he sharpens and brings to focus as opposed to the original is what I would call the multiverse of failed marriages within which the characters move. It’s what grabbed and reached out to me the most. At each point in time, in every reality, there’s a kid stuck vulnerably within a web of dangerous, illicit liaisons of the adults. Isn’t it better to let go of relationships that are past their best by date? Isn’t the urge to cling on more violent and dangerous than the decision to move on? Bhave and Kashyap sift, separate, and bring out the shades of grey from the black and white in the ties that bind. Within the overarching quest for justice, they do show the human side of crime. As a character states, helplessness can make a monster of an otherwise good person.

And in all these precarious games it’s usually the woman who is more sorted and evolved and the man is the most unformed and unresolved. No wonder there is some truism to Antara telling Vikas: “There is no world in which you would be happy with your wife.” Needless to say, even within the universe of the film, it’s Taapsee who makes things coast along nimbly with her canny, sharp and agile turn as Antara, leagues ahead of Adriana Ugarte in Mirage. On the other hand, Saswata Chatterjee gets grossly unutilized in a character that didn’t have much going for it either.

Forget Chatterjee one would have wanted more of Kashyap too in Dobaaraa. It’s not a signature Kashyap film. It’s a work of his from which he himself has gone missing. Or, to put it another way, making this film would have been “baayein haath ka khel” for him, a film he could have easily put together in his sleep. For a viewer too it’s largely an unchallenging and easy viewing. Watch it, enjoy it, and then wait for the next.

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