DOBAARAA (2022)

Taapsee Pannu in a still
  • Release Date: 19/08/2022
  • Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Rahul Bhatt, Pavail Gulati, Saswata Chatterjee
  • Director: Anurag Kashyap

Tedious, Banal, and Superficial!… This is the weakest Anurag Kashyap film to date

— Ambar Chatterjee

Anurag Kashyap was a filmmaker whose films I eagerly looked forward to. I was always surprised by him and most of his films made me uncomfortable. Even when he failed a few times, he still ended up making films that failed gloriously and left little to be regretted. His films always justified and championed the risky and unconventional storytelling tropes that may or may not have worked. There was an Indianess to his filmmaking that was overpowering in a good way. His films made me think and they were so radically different in look, feel, characterization, and sensibility that one could practically look at a frame and say whether it was an Anurag Kashyap film or not. Sadly, his career has been going downhill ever since Bombay Velvet flopped and no one appreciated the terrific Raman Raghav 2.0 the way it should have been appreciated. His latest, in my opinion, is his weakest film to date.

Dobaaraa is an official remake of Mirage and that is the first problem with the film. Anurag Kashyap films are special because he looks at the world differently. His understanding and capturing of India and Indians are what made his films special. Be it the student politics in Gulal, Islamic terrorism in Black Friday, or even amped-up Indian romance in Dev D and Manmarziyaan. His refreshing take on these subjects and his ability to make his characters relatable to people that we know from our lives is what pulled our attention to his stories and kept it there. These characters have gone on to attain cult status in the pop culture and cinematic landscape of India. Sadly, when that same man goes about remaking a film with which he evidently has no emotional connection, his characters and dealing with the many emotional and dramatic sequences feel orchestrated, banal and tedious, and too superficial and pristine.

The story of Dobaaraa was interesting. A 12-year-old witnesses a murder next door and then dies accidentally in the year 1996. In 2021, a family moved into the same house the kid and his mother lived in. Antara (Tapsee Pannu) finds the camcorder of the kid. During a similar storm that had previously descended on the town in 1996, she is able to establish contact with the kid in 1996 through the same camcorder. She saves him from dying by communicating what was about to happen but this proves to be the beginning of her troubles as her actions lead to re-writing the past, present, and future and things soon start getting out of hand for her.

While this story had the potential of being a cracking thriller, Dobaaraa which runs for 135 minutes nearly put me to sleep. There was no sense of urgency in the characters. There was no tension in the proceedings. The predicament of Antara was something that would make most people go nuts. Strangely, she is seen maintaining a strange sense of calm that after a while starts bringing down the overall impact of the tragedy at hand and with it the entire tension and affectivity of the narrative. The story toggles between the two timelines and the proceedings in both timelines are almost equally boring.

It is also a fact that the makers are unable to sell the story to the audiences and take them into the fold. I wasn’t involved with any of the characters even for a second and the fact that most of the characters are arrogant, irritating, and have no redeeming factor makes them instantly unlikeable. The dialogues between the characters get awfully boring. Anurag Kashyap’s trademark dark comedy was missing. The dynamics between a husband and wife border on being so annoying that it could drive the handful of audiences out of the theater. The only thing that made me wait till the end was to see how it culminated and whether the director was able to bring the entire story full circle and culminate it convincingly.

The climax of the film will not only make you hate the film, even more, but it will also make you question your sense of judgment for having come to watch the film in theaters. The makers push the boundaries of suspension of disbelief to the space. If you are doing that, you need to give the audience enough reasons to be on the same page with you. Sadly the makers are not even able to do that. The result is a film that falls flat on its face.

Taapsee Pannu plays herself in every film these days. She has become the Salman Khan of women-centric films and it is not a good thing. There was a time when I enjoyed her performances in films like Naam ShabanaBaby, etc. I even remember her re-tweeting my appreciation of her performance on Twitter. Sadly, of late she has been playing herself again and again and again with no variation or understanding of different character characters and their uniqueness. There is no feel for the character that she is playing here in her essay. It feels as if she is walking through an already laid path and enacting her character from the pages of the script without thinking about the emotions and the state of mind of the character. For a character like Antara, who is dealing with an otherworldly predicament, there could not have been a worse approach and it proves to be one of the biggest problems with the film. Anurag Kashyap, her long-time collaborator, and friend should have pointed this out to her.

Dobaaraa also feels like a film tailor-made for OTT. There is nothing here in terms of cinematography or the technicalities that need to be experienced on the big screen. It must be added that if you intend to watch it in one go, you should catch it in theaters because once it’s out on OTT, I don’t see anyone watching it in one sitting without any pauses or walking away from it. It is so because it gets so tedious. The ones who will walk away from it will probably not return to finish it as it never grabs your attention or incites your curiosity. This is the worst that Anurag Kashyap has done and if you are a fan, you should probably skip this one. The original is on Netflix and watching that might just be a better bet.

Rating: 2 out of 5.
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