The Girl on The Train: As Parineeti Chopra's film drops on Netflix, a guide to the original Hollywood flick and Paula Hawkin's novel
The Girl on the Train, directed by Ribhu Dasgupta, also stars Aditi Rao Hydari, Kriti Kulhari and Avinash Tiwary.
Highly-anticipated thriller The Girl on The Train, starring Parineeti Chopra, will soon hit Netflix on 26 February.
The film is the official Bollywood adaptation of the 2015 novel of the same name by author Paula Hawkins. In 2016, a Hollywood version starring Emily Blunt was released. The Hollywood flick was a Tate Taylor directorial and was produced by Amblin Partners, DreamWorks, Marc Platt Productions and Reliance Entertainment.
The British author's novel explores themes of relationship struggles and substance dependence from three first person perspectives. There is Rachel Watson, the title's girl on the train, a 33-year-old alcoholic, whose husband Tom recently ended their marriage to be with another woman. Tom marries Anna, a young, stay-at-home mother to their daughter Evie. The third woman in the mix is Megan Hipwell; she is grappling with a traumatic past from the death of her brother and later the death of her child.
Reviews compared Girl on the Train to Gillian Flyn's 2012 thriller Gone Girl for its similar use of an unreliable narrator. The book went on to secure the top spot on The New York Times bestseller upon release, followed by translations into 30 languages, and millions of copies sold worldwide.
"Hawkins juggles perspectives and timescales with great skill, and considerable suspense builds up along with empathy for an unusual central character who does not immediately grab the reader. “Ingenious” twists usually violate psychological plausibility, as in Gone Girl. Hawkins’s Girl is a less flashy, but altogether more solid creation," wrote Suzi Feay for The Guardian.
However, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hawkins' shot down all parallels drawn with Gone Girl. "Amy Dunne is a psychopath, an incredibly controlling and manipulative, smart, cunning woman — and Rachel's just a mess who can't do anything right."
A stage adaptation of the book also had its world premiere at The Courtyard Theatre at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2018.
Blunt's version of The Girl on the Train
The film has some significant differences from the book, as adaptations usually do. The most obvious one is the setting. The story in the book takes place in London, while the film places Emily, who gets to retain her British accent, in New York City. The character of Tom played by Justin Theroux is given a very one-dimensional touch in contrast to his book counterpart.
Though these slight incongruences did not stop the audience from giving it a green-light. Girl on the Train went on to gross $173 million worldwide and earned a Screen Actors Guild Awards nom, as well as, a BAFTA Best Actress nomination for Blunt. Critics had mixed opinions though. Take a look at the reviews:
Christy Lemiere of RogerEbert.com: "As a film, however, it’s not even that. It’s just a flat and suspense-free tale of pretty people in peril. And not only is the whodunit part of the film not all that intriguing (or surprising), neither are the characters swirling around each other until that big revelation comes to light."
The Guardian: "The whole movie rests upon the shoulders of Emily Blunt, and she holds it all together brilliantly, even as her character is falling apart."
The New York Times: "The Girl on the Train is a preposterous movie but not an unenjoyable one. If that sounds like faint praise, well, it is and it isn’t. There’s always something to be said for an entertainment that sustains its nuttiness all the way to its twisty finish. This one may not make much sense, but — like a demented old film noir or a Shonda Rhimes show at its crazed best — Girl doesn’t falter in its absurdity or commitment to its own seriousness. It never winks. You may laugh (as the audience I saw it with did, on and off), but there’s genuine pleasure in that mirth."
Rolling Stone: "[T]he movie gives away the game faster than the novel, but Emily Blunt digs so deep into the role of a blackout drunk and maybe murderer that she raises Girl to the level of spellbinder."
What is the Hindi adaptation's plot?
Set in the UK, The Girl on the Train follows the journey of Mira Kapoor, essayed by Chopra, who fixates on the apparently perfect lives of couples from afar during her daily commutes on the train. One day she witnesses something out of the ordinary which shocks her and takes her down a path of trying to unravel the truth behind what she saw.
The trailer sees Mira who keeps a close watch over another woman during her daily train trips. On the latter's sudden murder the police are close on Mira's heels, suspecting her of the crime.
Director Ribhu Dasgupta tells The Indian Express that while the team had the source material and even a film, they still had to mould the story that would be palatable to Indian audience.
Who else is in the cast?
Aditi Rao Hydari (Padmavaat, Kaatru Veliyidai) , Kirti Kulhari (Pink, Mission Mangal) and Avinash Tiwary (Laila Majnu, Bulbbul).
Who is the director?
The film has been helmed by Ribhu Dasgupta, who made his debut with the 2011 psychological thriller Michael. Produced by Anurag Kashyap, Michael had Naseeruddin Shah in the lead alongside Mahie Gill, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Rudranil Ghosh, and Churni Ganguly.
Dasgupta went on to direct four episodes of Yudh, Amitabh Bachchan's 2014 miniseries for Sony TV. Though the feature had a star-studded cast with Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Padmavati Rao, and Vidya Balan, it was a box-office failure.
The filmmaker once again delved into another show, Netflix's Bard of Blood (2019), bankrolled by Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment. Dasgupta was at the helm of Te3n (2016), the Hindi remake of South Korean film Montage. Emraan Hashmi, Kulhari, Vineet Kumar Singh, Jaideep Ahlawat and Sobhita Dhulipala formed the cast of the espionage thriller based on Bilal Siddiqui's book.
On the film's OTT release
Chopra tells The Indian Express: "Before Covid-19, we were, of course, spoiled because every film went directly to theatres. OTT was always a secondary release. Till a year ago, if you were told that your film is going directly to OTT, everybody would think of it as a step-down and every actor would feel like, ‘Oh, this is a compromised release. If I’m not going into a theatre, am I really even releasing a film?’ But a year later, I just feel OTT is not a compromised release anymore. I think it took me some time to get it."
Another thriller in the pipeline
Chopra and Dasgupta are reportedly set to collaborate once again for a yet-untitled film that revolves around a covert rescue operation of Indian agents. Rajit Kapur, Kay Kay Menon, Dibyendu Bhattacharya and Harrdy Sandhu are part of the cast. The project, scheduled to go on floors in March, is produced by Reliance Entertainment.
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