Once again, Amazon has beaten Netflix to the punch. Breathe, featuring R Madhavan in the lead role, is only the second Indian live-action series produced by the streaming giant, to be closely (or not) followed by Netflix’s first, Sacred Games, starring Saif Ali Khan. It’s a funny coincidence that both Amazon and Netflix chose to enter the Indian original series space with a gritty Mumbai crime story anchored by legit movie stars (not A-list, but certainly not B-list either).
And that’s about where Breathe finds itself, neither here nor there. Not even close to rubbing shoulders with some of the other prestigious TV shows available online these days, but not nearly as unwatchable as some of those shows on regular channels either.
Is it the smartest show out there? No. Is it the strangest, most bizarre show I’ve seen this year? Heck, yes.
But that’s part of its charm. It’s the sort of show in which the alcoholic cop takes too many swigs from his hip flask, the Catholics pray to Jesus too often, and the sleazy sidekick watches way too much porn. Every beat, every emotion, character trait and plot twist is delivered with such immense force that even a comatose person would be able to keep up with the proceedings.
And if, on the off chance, you find yourself losing the plot, the show will pause and have a character (or a conveniently timed flashback) explain it to you.
Here it is, in a nutshell: Madhavan plays a loving single dad named Danny, whose 6-year-old son is suffering from a congenital lung disease.
The sight of young Josh with pipes and tubes sticking out of him is a source of tremendous pain for Danny, whose steadfast belief in doing things by the book seems to be crumbling by the day. Josh is number four on the list to get a new lung, which means that four donors would have to die before it’s his turn to be saved. But time — as the pretty doctor for whom Danny seems to be developing feelings says — is running out for Josh. At her estimation, he has barely six months to live.
After much deliberation, the mild-mannered Danny decides to take what can politely be described as a rather drastic step. A quick warning before I tell you what it is: this absolutely insane development happens in the opening episode, and is basically revealed in the trailer. So it’s not much of a spoiler. But words cannot express the utter lunacy that had to have gone into coming up with it. So here goes: Danny (who runs a soccer academy by day and enjoys a nice piece of cake now and then with his dinners) decides to systematically murder the four strangers on the organ donors’ list so that his son can be saved.
To do that, he builds a lair in a storage locker (decorated with way too many footballs because he’s a football coach. And even though it’s the only way Breathe knows how to develop this is a good character). He also takes several pictures of random stuff: of people he’s targeting, of buildings he wants to infiltrate and of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.