Parineeti Chopra had a smashing debut with bubbly and light-hearted roles and it became her trademark. After a hiatus, she is back and her 2.0 cinematic avatar promises to be unlike anything she has done in the past. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is the first film of her new phase. The film was supposed to release in cinemas on Mother’s Day 2020. But due to the pandemic, it has made its way on Netflix. So does THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN manage to impress and give a thrilling time to the viewers? Or does it fail in its endeavour? Let’s analyse.
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is the story of a troubled alcoholic who gets involved in the murder of a girl whom she hardly knows. Mira Kapoor (Parineeti Chopra), based in London, is happily married to Shekhar (Avinash Tiwary). Mira takes up the case of an African man who gets killed in a shootout. She then receives threats from the family of the accused, Jimmy Baga. Yet, she proves in the court that Jimmy is the killer. Jimmy Baga is sent to jail. The same day, Mira finds out that she is pregnant. 6 months later, Mira is in a happy space as motherhood is something she deeply aspired for. Unfortunately, Mira and Shekhar get involved in a car accident. Mira suffers from a miscarriage. Her doctor tells that she is not fit to conceive again. Mira is shattered and to cope up with the loss, she resorts to drinking. She drinks so much that she would get violent and suffer from blackouts. And then the next day, she would not remember a thing. During her drunken stupors, Mira ends up assaulting Shekhar and also insulting his boss due to which Shekhar is fired. Shekhar finally divorces Mira. Mira loses her job as well. With nothing else to do in life, she begins to travel in the train from London to it’s suburbs and back. On the way, she crosses the place where her house with Shekhar is situated. However, just next to Shekhar’s house, Mira spots Nusrat John (Aditi Rao Hydari). Mira starts observing her whenever her train passes from near her house. Mira sees that Nusrat is having a lovely married life with Anand Joshi (Shamaun Ahmed). She also sees Nusrat dancing without a care in the world. Mira wishes if she had a life like Nusrat. However, one day, Mira sees that Nusrat is hugging someone who is not her husband. The way Nusrat hugs makes her realize that she’s having an affair. Mira is shattered. The perfect image of Nusrat which she had crafted in her mind is broken and that angers her. She feels that she shouldn’t cheat on her husband as she knows the pain. This is because Shekhar also started an affair, with Anjali (Natasha Benton), with whom he’s happily married now. Mira hence decides to teach a lesson to Nusrat. She goes to the latter’s house but the house is locked. She then spots her in a forest nearby. Mira charges at her and then blacks out. Mira wakes up at her house with a wound on her forehead and no memory of last night. The next day, Nusrat goes missing. Officer Kaur (Kirti Kulhari) comes on board to investigate. During the course of her investigation, she finds out that Mira had come angrily to meet Nusrat and hence, Mira becomes the prime suspect. A few days later, Nusrat’s dead body is found in the same forest. What happens next forms the rest of the story.
Ribhu Dasgupta's direction is not upto the mark. Talking about the plusses, he manages to captivate viewers. There’s a lot happening in the film and he doesn’t let viewers’ attention wander even for a second. The original flick had a lot of non-linear narrative. Ribhu simplifies it to a large extent. A few scenes are exceptional and also, he manages to extract fine performances from his actors. On the flipside, he keeps all the focus mainly on Parineeti Chopra’s character. The original film focused on the supporting characters and their backstories as well, and also the dynamics between various characters. Here, that doesn’t happen adequately. Even those who have not seen the original will feel this flaw and they would not be able to connect with some characters. Also, the ending has been changed from the original flick and the novel. Ribhu has added a double twist. The attempt doesn’t really work because the original, second twist is flawed and riddled with cinematic liberties.
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN starts off an intriguing note. In the first 20 minutes, the makers lay out the trajectory in Mira’s rollercoaster life. The parallel track of Nusrat going missing is also interesting. As the film progresses, more and more characters get added to the narrative. But one realizes that they don’t have much to do. That hampers the impact to an extent. Nevertheless, the various developments in the last 45 minutes do keep one on the edge of the seats. The ending should have been the best part of the enterprise but instead, it is devoid of logic.
Parineeti Chopra delivers a brilliant performance and is sure to benefit from this film. She surprises viewers as she has never ventured into this space before and she manages to put up a convincing performance. As a chronic alcoholic, she is quite good. Kirti Kulhari shines with her screen presence and dialogue delivery. Aditi Rao Hydari is lovely and one wishes she had a bigger role, especially since her character is crucial to the plot. Avinash Tiwary is as always dependable. Natasha Benton and Shamaun Ahmed get no scope at all. Same goes for Tota Roy Chowdhury (Dr Hamid). Vishakh Vadgama (Kunal; junior police officer), Diljohn Singh (Rajiv), Monisha Hassen (Zehra; Shekhar’s boss) and Suresh Sippy (Mira's doctor) are okay.
Music is surprisingly good but doesn’t have a shelf life. <em>'Chhal Gaya Chhalla'</em> is quite catchy. <em>'Matlabi Yariyan'</em> is well woven with the narrative. <em>'Tu Meri Rani'</em> is forgettable. Gilad Benamram's background score adds to the thrill.
Tribhuvan Babu Sadineni's cinematography is simple but effective. Sunil Nigvekar's production design is rich. Subodh Srivastava and Sanam Ratansi's costumes are very appealing and yet realistic and in sync with the character’s respective personalities. Mitali Vakil's make-up is praiseworthy, especially the wound on Parineeti’s forehead. Sangeeth Prakash Varghese's editing is slick.
On the whole, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is an average fare. It impresses due to the fast-paced narrative and performances, especially of Parineeti Chopra. But the lack of character development and flawed climax proves detrimental.
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