'DoBaaraa': Of VHS Tapes, The Butterfly (Effect), The (Schrödinger's) Cat, And Kashyap’s Quantum Leap!
‘DoBaaraa’: Of VHS Tapes, The Butterfly (Effect), The (Schrödinger’s) Cat, And Kashyap’s Quantum Leap!

Anurag Kashyap adapts Oriol Paulo’s script of Mirage but creates his own noir multiverse–it is dark and dank, it is sinister yet laced with humour, and it is a world that sucks you right in. It is an adaptation twice as good as the original

Directed by: Anurag Kashyap Adapted by: Nihit Bhave (Based on Oriol Paulo’s script of Mirage) Starring: Taapsee Pannu, Pavail Gulati, Saswata Chatterjee, and Rahul Bhat


The year is 2021. Antara is a married woman and mother to a little girl. She works as a nurse. The family has just moved into the township of Hinjawadi on the outskirts of Pune. Life goes on like clockwork. A Geomagnetic storm suddenly hits the town. While organizing the house, she finds an old television and a few video cassettes. She decides to watch them one night. A similar Geomagnetic storm has hit Hinjawadi. The year is 1996. A boy, Anay, is recording himself in his room when suddenly he hears the noise of an ugly fight coming from the next-door neighbor’s house. Curious, he goes to find what is going on and stumbles upon a murder scene. What transpires is a taut thriller that deals with concepts like the Butterfly Effect, Parallel Universes, Time Travel, Quantum Decoherence, and of course Schrödinger’s cat paradox. The story unfolds as two timelines collapse into each other. Antara’s and Anay’s realities merge with each other and give birth to an alternate reality, which is the third timeline. The television becomes a portal that connects these realities. This portal opens dobaara at Do Baaraa (2:12).

If you are a fan of Big Bang Theory, you must be aware of one recurring character in the show: Schrödinger’s cat. It is a dead-or-alive feline that keeps haunting Penny. In fact, this is probably the most popular cat in the history of pop culture. A thought experiment, the Schrödinger’s cat paradox has long been a staple of sci-fi literature and movies (James Ward Byrkit-directed 2013 film Coherence being one such).

Films tackling alternate realities aren’t really a novel idea either. In fact, we just watched one in Bollywood earlier this year. Looop Lapeta, a remake of Tom Tykwer’s cult classic, Run Lola Run, has Chaos Theory’s Butterfly Effect at its core whereby a small tweak in a particular string of events eventually changes the entire outcome. Dobaaraa also deals with this Butterfly effect. But to make a movie with such complex concepts isn’t easy and often disintegrates close to the climax. Dobaaraa makes sure there are no loose ends for the movie to trip over and fall on its face as it nears the finishing line. Kashyap has mentioned picking up Oriol Paulo’s script of Mirage, before the original was released, and getting Nihit Bhave to adapt it. So, one can’t really credit him or his team for the deliciously-twisted plot. But Kashyap manages to make a stunning film out of Paulo’s script, which might be a notch better than the Spanish writer/filmmaker’s own stab at it. It is especially interesting how he roots this bizarre alternate-reality story in reality. It starts with the very name of the movie.

Instead of calling it a mirage and thereby transporting the audience to a realm beyond the believable from the get-go, he finds sort of a homonym for the movie title– a name that itself can be interpreted in two different ways. Then he goes on to set the story in a very real location, Hinjawadi in Pune, making it as relatable as it gets. To add to this, he laces the strange-dark surreal tale with everyday humor. Kashyap also weaves in little homages (the way he seamlessly incorporates the Terminator movie reference in this world is a reflection of his genius as well as a sense of humor; ‘I Will Be Back’ is not just a writing on a T-shirt of a kid but is also the writing on the wall) all through the film making this adaptation his own, rather personal film. Doobaaraa is definitely an upgrade on Mirage, which had a lukewarm response upon its release. Kashyap seems to have taken notes and plugged the loopholes in time. Also, Aarti Bajaj’s crisp editing ensures that the audience stays hooked on the ominous goings-on. However, the BGM usually is a crucial element of such movies, but here it stays a tad underwhelming.

Kashyap is not new to psychological thrillers. The writer of RGV’s Kaun, a landmark film in the genre in Bollywood, had helmed the 2013 dark noir, Ugly— one of his best films post his seminal work, Gangs of Wassaypur (interestingly, the director repeats the Ugly actor in Dobaaraa and it seems Rahul Bhat is the perfect imperfect husband in the Kashyap world!). And this is not his first attempt at a sci-fi/alternate reality either. In No Smoking, John Abraham’s character K is seen repeatedly coming out of a bathtub to reality. The bathtub, much like the television in Dobaaraa, is almost used as a portal that connects his delusional world with the real one.

But this is as much an Anurag Kashyap film as it is a Taapsee Pannu film. The impact of a thriller largely depends on the reactions of the protagonist to the goings-on—something Urmila Matondkar had perfected in films like Ek Hasina Thi, Bhoot, and Kaun. Taapsee, who was earlier seen in Sujoy Ghosh’s mystery thriller, Badla, a remake of Oriol Paulo’s 2017 Spanish film, The Invisible Guest, seems to be acing the game in recent times. Pavail Gulati, who plays the other important character, never steals the scene from Taapsee but shines in his own understated way. He brings to his character the crucial sense of calm detachment. For the ones who have watched Ugly, the casting of Rahul Bhat builds a sense of foreboding that adds to the mood of the film. Saswata ‘BoB Biswas’ Chatterjee is every bit effective as the possible murderer, Raja Ghosh. It is a movie with an open ending and leaves you with many questions. For me, however, the most important one was related to the television: How does the TV antenna impact the transmission, when you are essentially watching a video recording? Maybe I need to watch Dobaaraa dobara!

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