Time travel has always been tricky on screen. It has never looked more tangled and confounding than Dobaaraa, a time-travel saga trapped in transit, and so frozen in its own inner conflicts that one feels all travel should be banned indefinitely.
Taapsee Pannu wakes up one morning looking suitable bewildered. We know the feeling. It’s the confusion we felt after watching Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet. The puzzle piles up quicker than rubble at a construction site. It is up to us to pick our way through the stockpile of confusion.
Essentially the plot is a mind-boggler. There is a 12-year-old boy from the 1990s who connects with Taapsee Pannu twenty years later through an old television set. Their bonding is a mix of déjà vu and dejaa-more-confusion.
In this way, Doordarshan meets time travel in a mix that puts your mind in a fix. Who are these people? Why does Taapsee remember the people in her life while they don’t remember her? “Madame, I think you had too much to drink last night,” a colleague suggests gently.
Why only Taapsee, everyone connected to this weird drama seems to have had one too many. Peg by peg the plot comes undone as Taapsee and an earnest-looking police investigator (Pavail Gulati , Taapsee’s talented Thappad co-star) try to make sense of her life. And the plot that’s been thrust on them.
Somewhere in the jumble of past tense and present even tenser, not to mention future distinctly imperfect, there is a man with a mistress and a dead wife and mother searching for a daughter. Eventually, if you have the patience to slug it out till the end there is also a love story tucked away beneath what lies at the surface.
The characters, though caught in such a dramatic conflict, never touch you. The performances try hard to make us overlook the implausibility of the plot. Taapsee hops skips and jumps through various eras in search on a life-enforcing aura. The other actors especially Rahul Bhat, Pavail Gulati and Sukant Goel try their utmost to instil a smudge of sincerity to what is essentially a shallow remake of Oriol Paulo’s Spanish film Mirage. You may also spot elements from the Netflix series Manifest.
But at the end, all we are left with is a feeling of being seriously shortchanged.
Rating: ** (2/5)
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