‘Dobaaraa’ movie review: Anurag Kashyap, Taapsee double the adrenaline

While Taapsee is at the top of her game, Anurag skillfully executes a more perceptive draft of the original Spanish mystery drama

August 18, 2022 10:43 pm | Updated 10:49 pm IST

A still from the film

A still from the film | Photo Credit: Balaji Motion Pictures/YouTube

With the penetration of affordable internet and the boom ofOTT , filmmakers who look to adapt a foreign film to a desi milieu are under greater scrutiny since it’s now easier to draw comparisons between the original and the renewed version.

Last week, director Advait Chandan laboured to imbue an Indian pulse to Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump . However, this week, Anurag Kashyap has effortlessly brought Oriol Paulo’s Mirage home with Dobaaraa. Of course, the genres are different but while Advait felt like carrying the weight of the iconic original, Anurag deftly executes a more perceptive draft of the Spanish mystery drama, giving it the feel of an edgy thriller that doesn’t take a breath to show off its emotional depth or philosophical takeaways.

Director: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Pavail Gulati, Nassar, Rahul Bhat
Runtime: 135 minutes
Storyline: A woman finds a way to communicate with a young boy who died 25 years ago at her new residence. When she changes things of the past, she wakes up in a parallel universe with an altered present

In 1992, when Ram Gopal Varma spooked us with Raat, it startled us since until then, except for Gehrayee (1980), we seldom brushed shoulders with the supernatural in an everyday setting. Anurag does the same with sci-fi and time travel. He makes us invest in the improbable. Usually, horror emanates from evil, but what if goodness sparks off a scary tale.

Dobaaraa tells us how an action even when done in good faith could have calamitous results. Almost three decades ago, a young boy called Aney was killed during a storm in Pune after witnessing a crime in the neighbourhood. His death haunted his friends for years. 25 years later, when Antra Awasthi (Taapsee Pannu) shifts to the house where Aney and his mother once lived, she finds a way to communicate with the young boy using an old cassette, a video recorder, and a television with an antenna. Like any compassionate person, Antra tries to save the little boy’s life. She corrects the past but it spirals her present out of control. Antra wakes up in a parallel universe where she is no longer a nurse, but a doctor. More importantly, her daughter Avanti is missing and her husband Vikas (Rahul Bhat) doesn’t recognise her as Antra. The unique storm is back and before it lasts, she has to find her way back to her timeline and convince police officer Chandan (Pavail Gulati).

Though Dobaaraa has elements of the supernatural, but at the heart of it, it is a mother’s desperate search for her daughter and a boy’s urge to make the world believe in his story. Unlike Paulo, whose films are in great demand for Hindi adaptations, Anurag has the rare ability to come out of the narrative, become the audience, pass a comment on the implausibility of the situation, and then get on with the job with conviction. It is a kind of handholding that the audience requires for a subject like Dobaaraa that gets abstruse after a point. Be it the application of the Terminator reference or a sarcastic remark on a man’s infidelity across timelines, Anurag ensures that the sci-fi genre loses its stiffness in Indian conditions and, along with writer Nihit Bhave, has made the complex premise more accessible.

In Taapsee, Anurag has a malleable actor who is at the top of her game here. She lives the confidence and vulnerability of Antra in equal measures. The scene with veteran actor Nasser where Antra breaks down at the absurdity of the situation shows how Taapsee could create an emotional swell in favourable conditions. Further, she gets good support from Pavail who reflects the innocence behind the stoic presence of the character. Rahul, who is often found in Anurag’s films, serves the script well. And, Saswata Chatterjee has not been stretched in a role that could have been quirkier.

When the premise begins to fall apart, it is the performances that keep us emotionally engaged and Gaurav Chatterjee and Dhiman Karmakar generate a sense of urgency with their throbbing musical score and sound design — something that was missing in the original. Sylvester Fonseca’s cinematography recreates the ominous atmosphere and Aarti Bajaj’s sharp editing doesn’t allow the screenplay to sag.

In the film, a voice on the radio repeatedly says that geomagnetic storms raise the adrenaline level in humans. Dobaaraa is once such adrenaline-pumping storm.

Dobaaraa is currently running in theatres

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