Mainstream Bollywood has been plagued by below-average remakes of regional and foreign films for far too long. The Girl on the Train is another in the series of uninspired remakes.
The Girl on the Train is based on an American film by the same name which had been adapted by Paula Hawkins’ debut novel.
The film follows Mira Kapoor (Parineeti Chopra), a hotshot successful criminal lawyer in a happy perfect marriage with her husband Shekhar (Avinash Tiwary), with a child on the way.
Disgruntled defendants of her previous case cause a car accident. She loses her child and develops anterograde amnesia, that is, the inability to transfer short term memories to long term memories, due to her head trauma. All of this, combined with her alcoholism, makes her abusive and destroys her marriage.
Recently divorced and without any job prospects, Mira travels every day on the train. She sees her husband living with his second wife in their old home. She gets obsessed with Nusrat John (Aditi Rao Hydari), a stranger she sees, a few stops down, from her train every day, and imagines a perfect life for her.
Trouble ensues when Nusrat goes missing and all the evidence points towards Mira.
Parineeti Chopra plays the troubled, alcoholic, obsessive divorcee, Mira. Mira is a layered character with many insecurities and issues plaguing her. Chopra is a poor substitute for Emily Blunt who essayed the role perfectly in the 2016 film. Her performance is loud, one-note and lacks believability and nuance.
Instead of portraying the multitude of emotions, her character faces in a particular moment, Chopra’s simplistic performance just exaggerates one emotion. Her outbursts, breakdowns and reactions are rehearsed and fake.
Avinash Tiwary’s performance as Shekhar, Mira’s cheating ex-husband, is worse than Chopra’s performance. He is absolutely wooden and even when he is given an opportunity to shine, he drops the ball.
Aditi Rao Hydari, as Nusrat John, does not have a lot of role in the film. She has been typecast as the naive, pretty, innocent girl next door. This role isn’t much different from her image in Bollywood and so she does a good enough job.
Kirti Kulhari is a breath of fresh air in the film. She plays the assertive, no-nonsense police officer in charge of Nusrat’s case. She could have done better had the material been better.
The entire cast of The Girl on the Train is quite below average. Little attention has been given to their performances. The characters, instead of being alive, act just as elements to push the story forwards.
The cinematography by Tribhuvan Babu Sadineni is the one aspect of The Girl on the Train that has been executed well. The shots are well composed and incentive at times.
The lighting is quite interesting as the film approaches its climax.
The film has been adapted by three writers apart from Ribhu Dasgupta, who also directed the film. With films like Teen (2016) under her belt, it is suffice to say that The Girl on the Train is not his best work.
The writing is cliched and uninteresting. The film chooses the most basic ways to carry out any scene. The dialogue is expository and on-the-nose and includes lines like “Mai lawyer hun” and “hum simple log hain”. At its worse, the lines are painfully melodramatic.
Moving on from the atrocious dialogue, the plot itself is lazily constructed and has several plot holes. That can be majorly credited to Paula Hawkins. However, a good adaptation should improve and add a new spin to the source material. Instead, Dasgupta tries to make it more digestible for the Indian audiences and adds entirely unnecessary songs and montages.
The film does not respect the audience in the slightest. There are far too many explanations given through flashbacks. The use of narration adds nothing to the story and it simply describes what is already visible on the screen. The Girl on the Train is ripe with excessive use of over the top score. The story and the emotions are force-fed to the audience through all these means.
The film is also excessively longer than it needed to be. At least 30 minutes could have been shaved off from the 120 minutes run time to create a tighter and more tense film. Such faults were also present in Dasgupta’s 2016 venture, Teen, but did not affect the audiences much due to Amitabh Bachhan and Farhan Akhtar’s excellent performances. Unfortunately, Chopra’s performance further exacerbates the mess that the film is.
But by far the most lamentable change in The Girl on the Train is its conclusion. The ending of this adaptation differs from the ending of both the book as well as the 2016 film and in doing so has detracted from the major themes of the source material.
The original film adaptation of The Girl on the Train was a mess, but this one takes the cake.
Predictable wooden performances, clumsy dialogue, ruined themes, lack of tension; The Girl on the Train can be skipped.