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Breathe: Season 1 Episode 1 Recap - The Promise

Breathe takes its viewers on a journey of a father who is ready to go to any extent to save his ill son. 

Breathe: Season 1 Episode 1 Recap - The Promise

Mayank Sharma and Abhijeet Deshpande's Breathe stars R Madhavan and Amit Sadh in lead roles. The intense, suspense ridden trailer was quick to catch my eye and Madhavan making an appearance after such a long period gave birth to some high expectations from the series. 

The show opens with a glimpse of the busy evenings on Mumbai roads with a police van zooming past various other cars with its siren making noise along every corner it passes. We see a girl sitting on a chair at her home recording a video of her committing suicide. In the video, she says that no one is responsible for it but herself and then suffocates herself with a plastic wrapped around her head, while some unknown man can be seen in the background heading out of the house. 

The act seemed a little too bland and unconvincing for an opening scene. It wasn't up to the mark because I was expecting more from the trailer.

The story rewinds to 4 months ago.

Kabir Sawant (Amit Sadh) is introduced as an alcoholic police inspector who is having a hard time battling his demons of grief, guilt and regret. Kabir is a guy who drinks ALL day: Off-duty and On-duty. In slight ways, the character resembles Shahid Kapoor's character from Kabir Singh.

Kabir along with his junior, Sub-Inspector Prakash Kamble heads to conduct a raid for drugs at a hotel (a tip-off by his junior, Malwankar) and drinks while Kamble beats up the dealers. Kabir has already busted Malwankar's scam which the latter set up as a measure to get promoted, and along with Kamble, he arrives at a bar. At the bar, Kabir gets hold of him and beats him while the people present around start shooting his video in doing so. Sadh's character in the series uses alcohol and his work, to escape from his pain. 

From a furious Kabir, the plot switches to a home where a table stands in a corner on which a photograph of a young woman rests with a lit candle kept in front of it. The place is decorated and is shining with bright lights. Danny Mascarenhas (Madhavan) can be seen engaged in a rough playful foosball match with his neighbour. It is Danny's son Josh's 6th birthday and the place is filled with joyous chatter.

Post the foosball match, a friend of the Mascarenhas' shows up on their door with a present bigger than the birthday boy himself. Danny, dramatically and politely, asks the Santa Clause (pun intended) to not gift Josh such a grand present by saying, "Duniya mein sab jaante hain ki funeral pe diye jaane waale phool shaadi pe diye jaane waale phoolon se zyada mehenge hote hain". Although this isn't a direct confirmation, it gives us a hint that Josh might be suffering from some disease implying that he will not witness his 7th birthday.

At this point in the episode, I started getting mixed emotions about my decision to watch it. The unnecessary exaggeration and over-melodrama of scenes set by the music and the acting of the side characters rocked the boat of hope a little. 

The day after Josh's birthday, Danny, a football coach, while still at work, gets a call from his mother, Juliet Mascarenhas (Neena Kulkarni). This call takes away all the colour from his face. He, along with his mother, rushes his son to the hospital where the Doctor, Aruna Sharma (Shriswara) tells them that Josh doesn't have much time and that he cannot live without an oxygen cylinder till he gets a suitable organ donor. While Josh's grandmother expresses her concern and fear over the fact that Josh has been 4th number in the list of organ recipients for a whole year, Danny sits with his head lowered and eyes numb. He asks "Kitne mahine reh gaye hain?” to which the doctor replies "5-6 mahine".

Danny is trying to process all the information and the possibility that his son could no longer be alive in a few months if he does not receive an organ donor of the latter's rare blood type: AB-. He overhears a conversation between a patient's family and the doctor from where he gets to know that the patient is nearly-dead. A hopeful Danny tries to convince the family in agreeing to donate their loved one's organs to save numerous other lives but the family shows no interest in his opinions and blatantly refuses. "Hum hindu hain, aur hindu dharm mein agar body ko kaat shaat kar agni de dein toh aatma ko shaanti nahi milti", the family cites as their reason. This becomes an eye roll moment for Danny, the doctor as well as me. As soon as the family turns to go away, Danny narrates a shlok from the Bhagavad Gita hoping that the family might reconsider their decision. But the shlok wasn’t beneficial other than being yet another melodramatic aspect of the story.

The episode shifts to a drunk Kabir, who is lying on the bed and is in between a troublesome dream concerning his daughter. The glimpses of the dream show that his daughter died by accidentally pulling the trigger to his pistol towards herself while playing with it. He wakes up to a call from work and sips on his can of alcohol. While he refills the can, his wife, Ria (Sapna Pabbi) walks in the house and sighs at what he has made of himself. She tries to talk him into selling the house to which he pays no heed. He hasn't accepted his daughter Shreya's death and prefers to live drenched in alcohol, away from reality. Before leaving, Ria turns to him while holding a doll to her chest and asks him to find a better way to keep their daughter's memories close to him. 

The video from the bar has gone viral over the internet. The ACP scolds Kabir and Prakash for their unprofessional ways. When asked to handle himself and to try to move on from his grief, Kabir refuses and walks away saying that he’ll try to be more professional...but that’s it.

The plot shifts to the Mascarenhas' house and Danny can be seen reading a bedtime story of a small and skinny boy named Harry, to Josh. Josh associates himself with the boy in the story, and says, "Dada, I don't want to die". Teary-eyed Danny gulps down his emotions while his son hugs him. Once Josh dozes off, Danny and his mother share a few moments of concern over the child's health and future. Juliet rants out her agitation and says, "Ab ye toh nahi pray kar sakti na ki wo saare organ donors marr jaayein aur mere Josh ko life mile". Although she takes the thought back, her son thinks of its possibility, and while a unique chord strikes his head, his facial expressions no longer remain gentle.

After giving a lot of thought about what his mother accidentally said, he decides to walk down the path of the guy in the opening scene. He copies the list of Organ Donors at the hospital in a secretive manner and walks away holding his spectacles in his hand.

Perhaps, Breathe is a story of the connection and similarities which lie in two different worlds; a concept Masaan showed beautifully. I felt that the pilot episode titled “The Promise” was a little less engaging and there were a lot of moments when the story got too loose but Madhavan and Sadh kept the boat of hopes rowing. Sadh stole the pilot's thunder with his performance and has raised the bar of expectations for the next episode. 

Episode Rating: 3/5