Film Review: The Girl on the Train
Starring: Parineeti Chopra, Aditi Rao Hydari, Kirti Kulhari and Avinash Tiwary
Director: Ribhu Dasgupta
Films based on bestsellers are quite a regular feature as a reliable storyline and this latest release brings an Indian take to the 2015 novel by Paula Hawkins, previously adapted for the screen by Hollywood – even winning Emily Blunt a Best Actress BAFTA nomination for her lead role.
Mira Kapoor (Chopra) is a successful London-based barrister who has turned to alcohol to help her cope with the turmoil of losing a baby and then her marriage to Shekhar Kapoor (Tiwary), a respected surgeon. The couple’s romantic brush at a lavish and sped-up courtship resulting in marriage seems like a fairy tale until Mira ignores several threats and decides to pursue a dangerous criminal case through the courts. She goes on to win that case and free her wrongly accused client, but the consequences of that victory are not entirely positive over time.
As she struggles through the devastation left in the wake of that court battle, she finds some comfort in the ostensibly perfect life of Nusrat John (Rao Hydari), a nurse who lives in the home of her dreams and visible through the window of her train as she commutes from central London into the suburbs every day. When Nusrat is suddenly found dead, the suspicion falls on the erratic Mira who appears to have been stalking the medic – who was practically a stranger to her.
Inspector Dalbir Kaur Bagga (Kulhari), a British Sikh female cop in the London police force, is soon hot on the heels of Mira to nail her for the murder. Will Mira be able to overcome her short-term amnesia caused by trauma to remember the exact sequence of events or will her personal turmoil overwhelm her in the face of multiple crises?
At the outset, what is obvious is that Parineeti is no Emily Blunt – that calibre of understated angst and confusion can be communicated on screen only by an actress of great calibre. The plot, which essentially centres around Chopra as ‘The Girl on the Train’ of the title, is let down not only by the lacklustre performance of the lead and most of the supporting characters but also by a script that is like a helter-skelter ride – not quite sure which way lies the most thrilling turn.
If only the filmmakers had stayed true to Paula Hawkins’ novel, this film may have stood half a chance. But with an absurd climax, this Bollywood outing manages to alienate lovers of the bestseller as well as the more open-minded audiences who may not have come across the story before.
All in all, this is a train to nowhere, offering a ride that is neither thrilling nor quite enjoyable.