Filmmaker Ribhu Dasgupta’s adaptation of ‘The Girl on the Train’ loses the essence of the novel halfway through, and tries to cover up the narrative gaps instead
There is something really off about The Girl on the Train, based on British author Paula Hawkins’ novel of the same name and its subsequent film adaptation starring Emily Blunt, right from the start — if you discount the miscast lead actors that is.
Look at the way the opening sequence begins inside the forest with a character chasing another. Look at the way the editor cuts back to show the wound on Parineeti Chopra’s forehead — this, after the opening scene clearly establishes a physical clash between them. Look at the way the film panders to the NRI audience with the only Indian sensibility being the quintessential wedding song + heartbreak song + my life-is-miserable song + new day, new world song. Look at the way Mira Kapoor’s (Parineeti Chopra) story is rushed through with the least bit of character development.
She is a lawyer. She meets Shekhar (Avinash Tiwary) at a wedding, of course. They fall in love over a wedding song, of course. She takes up a high profile case. Shekhar advises her against, of course. She is expecting and they wish to settle. She plans to quit her profession, of course. Her world goes topsy turvy after a car accident. She suffers from anterograde amnesia and takes to alcohol. They split, of course.
The Girl on the Train
- Cast: Parineeti Chopra, Aditi Rao Hydari, Kriti Kulhari, Avinash Tiwary
- Director: Ribhu Dasgupta
- Storyline: Dealing with a loss of a miscarriage owing to an accident that results in a divorce, lawyer Mira Kapoor takes refuge in alcohol and lives in her own bubble, until she fixates on Nusrat John — whose perfect life becomes Kapoor’s obsession — from the train. Mira becomes the prime suspect in Nusrat’s murder case.
All this is told in an orderly fashion, defying the purpose of screenwriting. There is absolutely no time for you to register anything, for, the director seems desperate about moving to the central conflict: the murder of Nusrat John (Aditi Rao Hydari. She might as well be referred to as Poor Aditi Rao Hydari for being the poster girl for characters that are soft and emotionally vulnerable), the woman Mira Kapoor looks up to for having a perfectly normal life — which later turns into jealousy.
For the most part, Mira remains a mystery — as does the choice of casting Parineeti Chopra in the lead. You are never really with her because you don’t know her, nor the place she comes from. Look at the way the film tries to communicate Mira’s emotional state through her mascara. The darker it gets, we are to believe that she is disintegrating from within. Well, how else would you show an alcoholic woman bearing the weight of reality? You are left to wonder what is worse: Parineeti’s idea of playing an alcoholic, emotionally distraught woman or Ribhu Dasgupta’s idea of using Parineeti’s voiceover to get into Mira’s head. Either way, it doesn’t help.
The best part about Paula Hawkins’ novel, though one got a sense of stuck in an infinite time loop, were the reams of passages dedicated to understanding the protagonist(s) — which is a downside here. At one point, it appears that the makers seem to have lost grip of its source material and the last half hour, especially, is chaotic and looks cluttered, in a bid to cover up the gaps in the narrative.