“Facebook and ex-wives do not make good friends,” says Mira Kapoor’s (Parineeti Chopra) friend in Netflix’s latest release, The Girl On The Train. If you feel like you have already heard this somewhere, you’re right. Rachel’s (Emily Blunt) roommate had the same dialogue in the 2016 Hollywood film which was based on Paula Hawkin’s best-selling novel. But the Parineeti Chopra-starrer is nothing like the 2016 blockbuster that won several accolades.
Parineeti Chopra-starrer The Girl On The Train, despite having retained some of the dialogues from the 2016 Hollywood film starring Emily Blunt, has made several changes in the script. Director Ribhu Dasgupta, who has also written the film, had said in a recent interview that they have given their own colour to suit the Indian audience. But do these changes work? Not quite.
The film begins on an adrenaline-pumping note with Aditi Rao Hydari running through the woods, being chased by someone wearing a black hood. Seconds later we see Parineeti Chopra, as Mira Kapoor, standing in a train station with a huge scar on her forehead (that stays with her for most of the runtime but magically disappears in the last few minutes of the film).
The title of the film flashes and guess what? A wedding song follows as we are taken to 2017, where we meet Mira when she was in a happy phase of her life. The transition and the wedding song feels abrupt, but this isn’t the only time that happens. Continue watching and you will see a crucial revelation sequence unfold with the song Matlabi Yaariyan playing in the background. Why? We wonder. But that isn’t the only question we have.
Coming to the plot, Mira falls in love with a man and they get married. He proposes to her in the most clichéd way, by hiding a ring inside a card. Soon they find out that they are expecting a child and all Mira wants to do is ‘give up work and spend all her time with her baby’. But then, tragedy strikes and Mira loses everything. It’s 2019 and she has turned into an alcoholic. She takes the same train to work every day and observes a woman from a distance. She doesn’t know her name but takes great interest in her life until she sees something she shouldn’t have and becomes a prime suspect in a brutal murder.
The plot, like the original film and the novel, is interesting and keeps you invested. And there are major changes too so those who have watched the 2016 film can expect a moment of thrill. But that moment comes very late. And the effect isn’t as large as the build-up. In a 2-hour long film, we, as viewers, feel a bit of thrill only when 1 hour and 45 minutes have passed. No, we don’t expect the makers to keep us on the edge of our seats throughout but a little consistency would have been nice. Also, at times it felt like the film was trying too hard to steer the viewer in a certain direction. Things like ‘he or she could also be the killer’ aren’t meant to be spoken out loud but must be understood.
The secret to making a good, if not the best, whodunit mystery, is to allow the viewer to have their own theories as the film moves along. But The Girl On The Train leaves little room for that.
Also, roles of important characters have been chopped off mercilessly and various sub-plots have been excluded. The characters in Ribhu Dasgupta’s world don’t appear to be layered, but confused. They also lack a certain depth. The film’s central theme has also been changed. In the 2016 film, Rachel finds purpose in trying to find Megan’s killer. But here, Mira’s reasons are completely different.
The biggest let-down, perhaps are the dialogues. Not only do they appear to be a lazy cut-copy-paste (or translate) job at times, but also out of place. The background score doesn’t impress except for a few scenes and the songs, as mentioned earlier, appear to be forced at times.
Coming to performances, Parineeti Chopra has given her heart and soul to the film and it shows. She steps into Emily Blunt’s shoes, even imitates her in a scene or two, and gives an overall satisfactory performance. But, that is not enough for us to emotionally connect with her character. Her deeply (a bit OTT) kohled eyes convince us that she is a sad person. But certain scenes could have used a bit more gusto.
Kirti Kulhari plays the role of a detective and does a fine job. Except for a few times, where she appears to be a bit too sweet to grab someone by the neck and demand answers from them.
Aditi Rao Hydari hardly has much screen presence. But she stands her ground and makes her presence felt as Nusrat, whenever she is on the screen.
Avinash Tiwary is convincing and Tota Roy Chowdhury fits the bill as the therapist.
To conclude, for those who have watched the 2016 film, there are surprises in the last 15 minutes. For the ones who haven’t watched the Hollywood film, the surprises might be slightly more, but the impact is questionable. Watch it for Parineeti’s impressive performance and the whodunit element.
With an extra half for Pari, we are going with 2.5 out of 5 stars for The Girl On The Train.