When an exasperated Abha (Nithya Menen) says “This can’t go on and on” to her husband, Avinash (Abhishek Bachchan), a psychiatrist, in Breathe: Into The Shadows (Amazon Prime’s sequel series to a stellar Breathe which starred R.Madhvan), you may be tempted to nod in agreement. ‘Cause this 12-episode series is a tough test of your patience and cart-wheeling attention that it fails to rein in from the start, so yeah lady, we agree, this can’t and shouldn’t have gone on. Whew!
In Breathe: Into The Shadows, which was promoted to be as promising as it predecessor has Avinash and Abha Sabharwal (Abhishek Bachchan and Nithya Menen) as a reputable couple- Avinash is a psychiatrist, who aids the police by conducting psychiatric analyses of criminals, and Abha is a chef. But there seemingly happy lives are thrown for a toss when their 6-year-old daughter Siya (Ivana Kaur) gets kidnapped from a friend’s birthday party.
After searching for months, they are about ready to give up when the kidnapper contacts them by sending them a free iPad, with a video of a well and alive Sia, along with a condition- while he doesn’t want money from the couple, he wants them to kill a man.
Initially troubled and hesitating with their moral obligations, Avinash and Abha eventually agree for the sake of Sia. As soon as they murder the first man, they are ordered to kill a second, but Sia is not returned to them. But it does attract the attention of Kabir Sawant (Amit Sadh), a tough cop with rippling muscles, a scarred past, and the desire to redeem his wrongs- it is only Sadh’s consistently stellar performance that manages to bring freshness to a character that ticks all the boxes of being a stereotypical Bollywood-style cop.
While Avinash, worried that Kabir will zero in on them, starts assisting in the murder cases and tries to throw them off with some psychiatric mumbo-jumbo about the killer’s intentions, the ones watching it will actually hope that he is caught and the mindless plot of Breathe: Into The Shadows wraps up, scraping up whatever little dignity it had left.
Given the premise of Breathe: Into The Shadows, one may expect it to explore the pain and trauma of a couple whose child is missing, how it affects their relationship as they go to unimaginable lengths to save their daughter. But instead, we get a bland couple who barely gives a thought before plotting to kill people with Abhishek Bachchan’s poorly played Avinash turning into a deranged killer with a stoned expression in the span of two episodes.
Sure, Bachchan is visibly doing better as an actor, but whenever there is a demand for a more expressive reaction his “by-default” stoic, listless expression hardly helps and no amount of background music (there is a lot and very loud) can force one to root for his character who is, frustratingly, the focus of the series. A brilliant Nithya Menen, mansplained everything by Avinash almost throughout the season, is relegated to the sidelines, just like Amit Sadh’s Kabir.
With a majorly irksome troupe of spelling everything out and the near-constant flashbacks as if one would forget what happened like 5 minutes ago- Breathe: Into The Shadows is too busy trying to look “intelligent” but manages to fool no one.