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Dobaaraa

Farhad Dalal
By-
Farhad Dalal
Rating
3.5 Star popcorn reviewss

Introduction

Amidst the huge Bollywood Boycott campaign, I happened to watch the new Hindi theatrical release of the weekend Dobaara directed by my favourite filmmaker, Anurag Kashyap. Here is my cue to say that I will be as honest as possible about the film and this review shall be bias free. But before the review a word of caution again – if you don’t want to watch a film then simply don’t watch it but do stop this Boycott business. Do not make cinema a medium of hate. And no this ain’t a paid review neither a paid campaign of speaking against the Boycott gang. So then back to the review!

Dobaaraa is the official Hindi adaptation of the Spanish film Mirage. But unlike most adaptations, the rights of the film were bought at its scripting stage which definitely did gave me hope. I did watch Mirage earlier this week and I wasn’t too impressed by it despite a good concept. In my review of Mirage I had mentioned that one of the major flaws of the film is the patchy editing and the execution in the second hour. It was with this skepticism that I did go for Dobaaraa(the joke being I watched the same film Dobaaraa this week). The one ray of hope for me was Anurag Kashyap who even on his worst day is way better than many in this business. So then does Dobaaraa manage to impress, stay tuned.

Story & Screenplay

An official adaptation of the Spanish film Mirage, Dobaaraa is the story of the protagonist trapped in an alternate universe during a geostorm, who is searching for her daughter who doesn’t exist in her timeline. What happens next? The story is excellent at the script level, something which I had also mentioned in my review of Mirage. It did have the right elements of thrill, mystery and horror to keep you invested. But I was more interested in the screenplay which stood at about 135 minutes here. And the good news is that some of the flaws of the original are rectified here!

The first thing that I noticed about the drama was the setup which was a shade darker than the original. The storm did form an integral part of the story early on and the the makers did ensure that it was showcased pretty well. A word of caution for those who haven’t seen the original and intend to watch Dobaaraa. This is a fresh concept for the Indian audience but it requires patience through most parts of the first hour. There is a good amount of effort given to the world building here and it is a slow but flavourful buildup.

Despite me knowing the beats of the screenplay, I was invested in the world created here. The slow but steady progression leading upto the conflict is pretty interesting and a shade better than the original. To give you a perspective, the entire sequence of the boy being killed in an accident is portrayed from the other end here(facing the house) which added to the tension in the drama. The use of the environment is excellent here.

The drama does have its side of flaws too in the second hour after a rivetting first hour. The element of horror of the boy seeing someone getting chopped perhaps could have been fleshed out slightly better at the halfway mark. There are brief moments of lag in the second hour as well where you can definitely see a twist coming from a mile(an issue that I had with the original too). But the makers were self aware of one of the mysteries here and they did well to not put the focus on it(like the original had done through a set of scenes where THAT character was wearing a certain set of clothes). This does allow the audience to be mildly startled on its final reveal. Also a few scenes from the original are tactfully edited out which helps in the screenplay being focused.

The final act here did make a lot more sense and an effort was made to slow things down as opposed to a rushed final act in the original. So in many ways the adaptation here is better than the original(apart from the technical aspects which I will get to in my next section).

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues just feel smooth and natural as is the case with any Anurag Kashyap film. The music is decent but the BGM is outstanding and it stood its ground even when things were slightly beginning to fall apart. It would be safe to say that the BGM does its bit in holding the drama together. The cinematography is excellent and the camera angles do create a certain ambience to the drama. Which brings me to the editing!

The editing was really choppy in the original, something that I had pointed out in my review too. But here the editing is crisp and it maintains the flow of the drama which is so important for a time travel film. It is one of the unsung heroes of this film and one of the major reasons why Dobaaraa is a much better film than Mirage.

Director Anurag Kashyap does a fabulous job here yet again. I wouldn’t say this is his absolute best as being his ardent fan I have seen his better works too. But despite that, he has done a swell job in creating a unique identity of this film through his world building and his grasp of the subject.

Performances

The performances are outstanding here. Medini Kelawane, Nidhi Singh, Nasser, Priti Shroff and Madhurima Roy all are brilliant despite a limited screentime. Sukant Goel as Abhishek is such an outstanding actor. One of my favourite scenes involves him in the second half which seemed extempore and wonderful to watch. I really wish to watch more of him in prominent roles. Saswata Chatterjee as Raja Ghosh does a pretty good job in an underwritten character(like the original).

Himanshi Choudhry as Sheila is wonderfully restrained and does a good job. Vidusshi Mehra as the mother of Anek has a good screen presence and does a swell job. Rahul Bhat as Vikas is excellent and it was an absolute pleasure to watch him onscreen. I wonder why isn’t he seen more often in films or webseries. Pavail Gulati as the cop is pretty good although I did feel that his character was a shade underwritten as compared to the original. But he does a wonderful job. Taapsee Pannu as Antara is natural to the core here. She lives every beat of her character which has so many shades to it and comes out a winner!

Conclusion

Dobaaraa is an intriguing drama that corrects most of the flaws in Mirage thus making it a better rendition of the original. Available in a theatre near you.

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