This production makes an almost instant hash of “The Girl on the Train,” a novel turned into a Hollywood thriller starring Emily Blunt a few years back.
Heavy-handed, with hammy acting, silly and soap operatic, struggling to keep the plot plausible and sensible, it’s a good-looking film, which is pretty much all one can say for it.
Parineeti Chopra of “Namaste England” stars as Mira, the pregnant London barrister (attorney) who loses her baby in a car accident caused by mobsters out for revenge. She comes out of that trauma with partial amnesia and a husband (Avinash Tiwary) who cheats on her and leaves her.
A year later and she’s still disturbed, as you might expect. But Mira is stalking her ex, lashing out when she does. She’s drinking constantly, even taking a flask with her on her travels.
And she’s riding the commuter train back to and by her old life, narrating her tale of woe and her grievances as she does. She spies a pretty, younger woman (Aditi Rao Hydari) who seems to have it all, judging from the peek inside her house, passing glimpses of her and her husband happy in the yard.
“Will my life ever be as perfect as hers is? She’s everything I lost!”
Mira interrupts her ongoing meltdown for a little envy. But as we’ve seen that young woman stalked in the forests in the film’s opening scene, we wonder if that envy is called for. When Nusrat (Hydari) goes missing, there are plenty of suspects, plenty of motives floating around her “perfect” life. Might amnesiac Mira have enough motive to be one of those suspects?
Director Ribhu Dasgupta (“Three”) clumsily incorporates the police investigation into this supposedly deepening mystery. Kirti Kulhari plays the Scotland Yard detective in charge, a Sikh woman who is one of those who has taken up the turban, and who comes off like a 1950s bull-in-a-china-shop cop.
She visits crime scenes and slaps suspects. She swaggers.
“Officer,” the missing woman’s psychotherapist (Hiten Patel) begs, “find her…please.”
“I will,” she assures him.
The mystery at the heart of Paula Hawkins’ novel is still solid, but all the false-leads seem obvious, and Chopra tends to seriously overdo it playing a drunk and hysteric.
The British setting, with almost all Hindi-speaking characters is kind of novel. The film opens with an Indian wedding, basically staged as a production number. And it’s not like the Hollywood version of “The Girl” is any sort of classic, though I liked it more than most.
This four-screenwriter take on it misses in almost every regard.
MPA Rating: TV-MA, violence, alcohol abuse, profanity
Cast: Parineeti Chopra, Aditi Rao Hydari, Kirti Kulhari, Avinash Tiwary
Credits: Directed by Ribhu Dasgupta, script Gaurav Shukla, Ribhu Dasgupta, Abhijeet Khuman and Viddesh Malandkar by based on a novel by Paula Hawkins. A Reliance release on Netflix.
Running time: 1:58