Synopsis – A woman gets an opportunity to save the life of a 12-year old boy who witnessed a death during a thunderstorm which happened 25 years ago, by getting connected through the television set during a similar storm in the present.
My Take – Though his films rarely do well commercially, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap has become somewhat of a brand himself, with his filmography consisting of a variety of flicks like Paanch (2003), Black Friday (2007), No Smoking (2007), Dev.D (2009), Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Ugly (2014), Bombay Velvet (2015), Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016), Manmarziyaan (2018) and Mukkabaaz (2018), all varying across genres but clearly visible with his style stamped all over the finished products.
His latest is no different, an official remake of the 2018 Spanish film Mirage, a time-travel mystery that is filled with enough thrilling moments to keep one at the edge of their seats till the very end. And with Taapsee Pannu at the top of her game, director Anurag Kashyap skillfully executes a more perceptive draft in comparison, that not just adapts cautiously keeping the Indian mentality in mind, but also avoids any theatrical dramatization of events that most Hindi films are known for.
Sure, writer Nihit Bhave’s adapted screenplay takes a little time to hook you, but when it does it keeps one consistently entertained and engaged. Most importantly, the film blends the concepts of space-time continuum and parallel universes way more effectively than simpler conventions of a crime thriller.
For those who have not seen the original film, it will prove to be a power packed suspense-thriller time travel film and those who have seen it, they too won’t be left disappointed. If the paying audience accept this one, at least in the OTT space, it could open a wider portal for science fiction Hindi films in the future.
Opening in 1996 amidst a terrifying electric storm and centers around an event that ends with the death of a 12-year-old boy named Aney (Aarrian Sawant) living in a colony of Pune’s Hinjewadi, the story then moves forward twenty-five years ahead and follows Antara (Taapsee Pannu), a nurse, who along with her husband Vikas (Rahul Bhat), and their daughter Avanti (Myra Rajpal), has moved into the same house that Aney used to live in.
With the similar storm re-appearing, Antara finds herself able to communicate with Aney’s old cassette video recorder that is connected to a television with an antenna. And like any compassionate person, Antra attempts to save the young boy’s life by warning him about the unfolding events.
However, her actions of correcting the past spirals her present out of control with Antra wakes up in a parallel universe where she is no longer a nurse, but an admired doctor. More importantly, her daughter is missing and her supposed husband doesn’t recognize her. With the storm still around for some time, Antara is left with no choice but to convince Chandan Yadav (Pavail Gulati), a police officer, to help navigate around and find her way back.
The title of the film is a play on words, doubling up in Hindi meaning again” and 02:12 or 12 minutes past 2 o’clock that is crucial in this plot. The film doesn’t waste time in needles character building and dives straight into exploring the incidents that connect one and another.
Sure, it gets complicated at many places, but nevertheless you remain hooked. Even with its skewing of realities and the effect it has the mind of a woman who has ended up in a state that she cannot fully comprehend, it adds up to an intriguing and fast-paced ride through a haze that hangs over the mind that takes its time to lift, pretty much like the ominous clouds in the sky.
After all, 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. The all-round effectiveness of time travel, science fiction and fantasy stories hinges on their outlandish hypotheses sounding perfectly sensible, logical and convincing when articulated in a story line.
But for a Hindi adaption, director Anurag Kashyap and writer Nihit Bhave show a rare ability to come out of the narrative and then get on with the job with conviction, making the complex premise more accessible. By avoiding the ever-confusing conversation around the grandfather paradox, the film obliquely asks these philosophical questions by placing our protagonist in the middle of this dilemma. It also helps that the film is peppered with humor here and there to break away from any monotony from setting in.
Yes, the film is not a film without its flaws. In order to manage the multiple strands of the plot-line, the film’s effectiveness is affected. Literally too much explanation is offered for the back and forth that has messed up Antara’s being, too much is elaborated upon, and by the end, there is little left for a viewer’s imagination to play around with. This wordiness sporadically robs the narrative of urgency so necessary for the tale of a distraught mother desperate to find her beloved daughter.
Performances wise, Taapsee Pannu is undoubtedly the star of the film. With previous experience in genre with the wacky Looop Lapeta (2022), Pannu proves her versatility once again and embodies her character with her unique style of acting. While her Thappad (2020) co-star Pavail Gulati allows her take the center stage, he still shines, portrays his character with the calmness and detachment it requires. In supporting roles, Arrian Sawant, Rahul Bhat, Swasta Chatterjee, Nassar, Himanshi Choudhry, Sukant Goel, Nidhi Singh and Madhurima Roy are effective. On the whole, ‘Dobaaraa’ is an engaging and complex time travel thriller that is effectively charming and adrenaline-pumping.
Directed – Anurag Kashyap
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 130 minutes