In early 2015, the literary market was surprised by Paula Hawkins’ psychological thriller, which was gaining readers around the world. Months later, the book ‘The Girl on the Train’ was sold for the film adaptation (produced in Hollywood by Fox) and the film premiered in 2016 with the same title, starring Emily Blunt – nominated for several awards for its performance. Five years later, the success story is the subject of another reading, an Indian production called “The Girl on the Train”, which is now arriving on the Netflix platform.
Mira Kapoor (Parineeti Chopra) is a successful lawyer who has just won a major case against an organized crime boss. Mira has been married to Shekhar (Avinash Tiwary) for a few years and found out that she was pregnant. However, a bad car accident causes Mira to lose the baby and since then her marriage collapses and she gives up on drinking. Already divorced, Mira begins to contemplate, through the train window, the house where she once lived with Shekhar and, a few meters further, the house of her dreams, where Nusrat (Aditi Rao Hydari) lives. One day, Mira sees something she can’t believe, and from there, she won’t rest until she knows the whole truth.
For those who have read the book and watched the previous cinematic proposition, the Indian version of the thriller brings different elements, the main one being the narrative line. The scenario developed by Ribhu Dasgupta (who also takes the direction of the feature film) is very didactic, obeying the Bollywood molds of the narration. For those who aren’t used to it, it can cause some weirdness, but if you’re already familiar with the thriller and are ready to dive in with your heart, you’ll see a whole different way of telling the same story.
One of the more interesting tools is the use of narrative songs to help insert elements into the plot, but without having to spend a lot of time explaining things in a dramatic way. It happens right from the start, for example, in recounting how Mira Kapoor and Shekhar met and how wonderful their marriage was, until everything goes wrong. The feature film has three moments like this, and it’s very interesting how the lyrics of these songs dialogue directly with the plot.
On the other hand, the performances are very dramatic, exaggerating the emotions like someone wanting to reaffirm to the viewer that what the character feels is what we suspect. Nothing is subtle, everything must be very obvious, following the booklet. It is also a signature of Indian cinema: things are not subliminal, but rather dramaturgical, obvious, almost free, so that the viewer has no doubts.
The Indian version of ‘The Girl on the Train’ is an interesting look at how another culture can tell the same story – and how universal that story can be. In his own way, he freely inserts new plot elements, which may or may not appeal to those who have seen and read the previous version.
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