If you have read Paula Hawkin’s book or watched Emily Blunt’s The Girl On The Train, you will expect a lot from this film. This is an unfair expectation, and I knew that before watching Parineeti Chopra’s version of the story on Netflix. However, The Girl On The Train (2021) is more of a chaotic mess than I could have ever expected.
The film starts in true 21st century Bollywood style with a big, fat wedding and a random Punjabi song which, of course, acts as the meeting point for protagonist Mira Kapoor (Parineeti Chopra) and her future husband, Shekhar (Avinash Tiwary). After a fairtytale engagement, Mira and Shekhar settle into their new life in London. Soon, we are told Mira is a self-righteous criminal lawyer who is handling a dangerous case against a known criminal. And thus begins the jumbled mess of characters tumbling out from every direction.
If you know the story of the film, you will know early on that it’s not exactly the same. Certain characters have been changed, plotlines have been altered. This should be a good thing for any remake of a popular story but, here, it’s handled poorly. There seems to be very little thought put into character development in this film.
Mira Kapoor’s transition in the film, from happy to disturbed, is horrifically jarring. The ridiculous heavy kajal is such a tired stereotype to portray a brown woman who is out of control. Parineeti Chopra is not convincing as an alcoholic and makes a mockery of Mira Kapoor in several instances. This character is dark and heavy, but the audience could have connected to it if there had been some realism in Parineeti Chopra’s acting.
In all fairness, it is not just the protagonist who is unforgivably unrealistic. The other characters too have basic flaws. For instance, how does a senior English cop have zero traces of an English accent? To have reached a position like that in the police force, it is presumed the character has lived the majority of her life in the country. Kirti Kulhari, as Inspector Kaur, is reduced to hammy scenes. The case is often discussed in Hindi in the presence of English cops who are taking notes intently. In fact, Mira too narrates her story in Hindi in a support group which has obvious non-Hindi speakers as members.
Such character flaws force one to wonder why The Girl On The Train could not be remade in an Indian location. If it was this difficult to make characters authentic, there was no need to base the story in London.
Also, the song Chhal Gaya Chhalla is painfully reminiscent of Tera Naam Japdi Phiran in Cocktail. In all these years, Bollywood really should have learnt to move beyond the stereotypical drunk girl portrayal.
Mentioning any other characters here is pretty pointless because they are quite bland. Regardless of whether you’ve read the book or seen the original film, it does not end the way you expect. Yes, there is an angle which hits you right out of the blue. But if you’re expecting an intricate story which comes together to make a satisfactory end, you will be disappointed. Overall, this remake seems to have been conceptualised and executed in a hurry, and we don’t know why.
The Girl On The Train (2021) is streaming now on Netflix.