Review: The Girl on The Train

Poster of The Girl on the Train

By Pranjali Wakde

A watered-down adaptation of The New York Times Fiction Best Seller – The Girl on the Train, sees Parineeti Chopra as an unstable and amnesic alcoholic.

It is an unspoken belief that movies based on books are always worse than the original text. It is, therefore, with this mindset that people watch the movie, unconsciously ruining the experience for themselves. We can, however, say that The Girl on the Train, is a stunning exception to this. Starring Parineeti Chopra, Aditi Rao Hydari and Kirti Kulhari, it was released on 26 February on Netflix, packed with mystery, excitement and…well, alcohol and memory loss.

When I say a stunning exception, it means that Producer and Director Ribhu Dasgupta picked out only the skeleton of Paula Hawkins’ book, leaving its principal ideas behind; the story was turned and twisted so as to make it more dramatic and appealing to the audience. The book was more focused on the psychological aspect, whereas, this adaptation dares to strive in the mystery thriller territory. And to an extent, it has worked.

There’s Parineeti’s Mira (Rachel Watson) obsessing over Hydari’s Nusrat (Megan Hipwell) and her husband’s perfect life, but Shekhar and Anjali (Tom and Anna) don’t live two houses away. Apart from Mira’s extreme alcoholism and amnesia, Dr. Hamid (Kamal Abdic) and hints of Detective Gaskill and Riley in Kulhari’s character of Inspector Kaur, everything is revamped and rearranged.

The movie focuses on Mira Kapoor (Parineeti Chopra), a brilliant lawyer with a loving husband (Avinash Tiwary) who’s life turns upside down after an accident renders her infertile and turns into an alcoholic.

This leads him to cheat on her, which adds insult to her injury. She starts fantasizing about a couple she observes from her train commute, unconsciously pining forNusrat’s (Aditi Rao-Hydari) life. Her life takes a dark turn (quite literally) when she finds out that Nusrat is actually dead, thus pushing the narrative forward.

Ardent fans of the book would be definitely disappointed with this adaptation, but the rest would be rather thrilled. The movie is mysterious, fast-paced and manages to tie all the loose ends in the course of the story, constantly keeping you on your toes.

Only three characters are important – and they nail their roles perfectly. We all know how talented Hydari and Kulhari are; this film just adds more credits to their skills. Avinash Tiwary as Shekhar is absolutely amazing – whatever screen time he got, he succeeded in making the most of it.

As for Parineeti, everyone was excited to see how she will do justice to Mira Kapoor, a role unlike her previous other characters and an antithesis to her own bubbly personality. Her rendition of an amnesic alcoholic is actually impressive. However, in many places, it feels as if she is trying too hard to make herself believable.

It is also rather funny to realize that her black-shaded eyes symbolize her alcoholic state when she can’t even walk straight and remember what she was up to during that time. Many of her scenes are laced with abruptness as if even we are on the train and the vehicle has suddenly come to a screeching stop. Yet, it can’t be denied that she really stepped out of her comfort zone and gave her best to this role.

The real problem actually lies in the story – there was really noneed to add the Jimmy Bagga twist, or Nusrat’s PI investigationand even the soundtrack, which is really soulful but seems superficial and slightly unfitting. In the quest of creating a drama ‘appropriate’ for an Indian audience, the director not only watered down the book’s real mystery but made the whole script redundant. If the movie hadn’t been so ‘Indianized’ – London setting but Indian characters involved, a sudden accident during happy conversations and police-turned-villain-for-emotional-reasons – it would’ve been an even more amazing movie to watch.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give this movie a chance. Whatever was put in front of the cast and crew, they have definitely given their all to it, trying to make it beautiful and worthwhile– and we can definitely see it in The Girl on the Train.

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