The Tate Taylor adaptation of the book The Girl on the Train was a movie that lacked the thrill factor. It was aligned more towards the psychological side of its characters. Personally, I felt that it was a movie that needed a bit more intrigue and tightness on a screenplay level. When it comes to the Indian adaptation by Ribhu Dasgupta, they have totally ignored the psychological track of the characters and just went after the thrills of twists and turns. And the end result is a flat thriller that pretends to have psychological nuances.
The movie revolves around an alcoholic named Mira Kapoor. She is a divorcee, and this ex-lawyer is a frequent traveler of a train from which she can see her ex-husband and his new wife in the house where she used to live. Gradually she started noticing another couple (Anand and Nusrat) in the same neighborhood, and things take a dramatic turn when Nusrat goes missing, and Mira gets involved in that case. Mira’s alcoholism has caused damages to her memory and what we see here is her desperate attempt to recollect where she was when Nusrat went missing.
In the original version, Nusrat is an extremely complex character. Her past and future look so grey that judging that character might feel insensitive. And the character of Anjali had a significant space and contributed to the narrative. The funny thing is that despite chopping off an entire character’s perspective and a substantial chunk of a significant character’s backstory, the Hindi version felt longer than the American one. As I said, Ribhu Dasgupta’s emphasis is on twists and turns rather than the trauma of the women in the story. There is a tale end to the Hindi version of The Girl on the Train that just shows how much our movie makers are obsessed with adding backstories to characters.
Mira Kapoor is given a job along with a back story here. We are shown how she met her ex-husband and how they ended up in a marriage. We have dialogues from the leading lady to her husband saying stuff like “I am a lawyer, and I know…” etc. This spoon-feeding and the desperation to make it a mystery thriller is what derailing this film. I am not saying that the English version was a classic. But it at least balanced the emotional side of the characters with the thriller aspect of the story. Many characters got chopped off in terms of depth, and we see too much of Mira, who, to be honest, is not that complex.
Parineeti Chopra is struggling to create any empathy in us towards her character. It was more of an exaggerated portrayal of trauma and felt like a performance rather than someone’s mental state. Talented Aditi Rao Hydari played the part of Nusrat, and it felt like a guest appearance. If you couldn’t guess Kriti Kulhari’s character’s connection with the main plot the moment you see her on-screen, you are too naive and perhaps the viewer Ribhu Dasgupta is looking for. Avinash Tiwari as Shekhar managed to score in those climax bits.
The Girl on the Train was one book that got compared to Gone Girl when it got published. And if you have seen the movie versions of both these books, you would know how integral was the psychological state of its central character in setting the mood. Ribhu Dasgupta’s version of The Girl on the Train just doesn’t have any interest in understanding the psyche of the main character.
Ribhu Dasgupta's version of The Girl on the Train just doesn't have any interest in understanding the psyche of the main character.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended