“Dobaaraa,” which premiered at London Indian Film Festival 2022, marks the first Anurag Kashyap film as a director has come out in two years, the last being Netflix’s “Choked.” The title of the film is an interesting wordplay, doubling up as the Hindi word “Dobaaraa,” meaning “again” and also “do baarah (02:12)”/12 minutes past 2 o’clock. It forms a crucial element in the film’s plot. Nihit Bhave, who wrote “Dobaaraa,” and also Kashyap’s last film, is an official remake of Oriol Paulo’s “Mirage” (2018 / Spanish), currently streaming on Netflix.
Dobaaraa: Plot & Inciting Incident Explained
The narrative of Dobaara unfolds against the backdrop of a terrifying electric storm, with the opening shot taking place in 1996. The film introduces us to a 12-year-old boy living in a colony of Pune’s Hinjewadi named Aney (Aarrian Sawant). He has a penchant for making home movies and keeps a TV and camera recorder in his room.
One night, amidst morbid curiosity to investigate strange noises in his neighbor’s bungalow, he peeps into their window. Unable to fully make out of what’s unfolding in the middle of a loud thunderous storm, he calls for his mother’s attention. We see his mother sleeping in the next room, unwilling to allow Aney outside once again in the bad weather. Out of concern, Aney ventures outside his house and heads towards the next door as we hear the lightning grow louder.
After discovering that there indeed was something wrong as he looks at blood stains over the floor leading to the eventual reveal of a supposed dead body, fear grips Aney. Before he could comprehend what’s unfolding in front of his eyes, a man (Saswata Chatterjee) appears in front of him, which leads him to run for his life, and a speeding firetruck runs over him, resulting in a tragedy. The movie then cuts to the present day and introduces us to new characters.
Dobaaraa Movie Timeline, Explained
Twenty-five years later, Antara (Taapsee Pannu), her husband Vikas (Rahul Bhatt), and daughter Avanti have moved into the same house that Aney used to live in. Antara, as we learn, works as a nurse at a hospital. In a scene where we see a brief conversation between her and a senior doctor (Nassar), the two talk about how she aspired to become a surgeon once. After returning home, the couple learns about the tragedy that occurred twenty-five years back from their dinner guest, who was Aney’s childhood buddy. Coincidentally, that day too, there is a freak storm brewing outside that causes all manner of geomagnetic mayhem across the city.
After building intrigue through a voice over the radio explaining the changes often witnessed with these rare geomagnetic storms, we finally cut to the night. The old TV set, still lying around the house, turns into a portal through which Antara finds herself able to communicate with Aney. Soon enough, Antara can connect the dots, realizing that she is talking with Aney; both characters are shocked to see each other in the same bedroom. Antara saves Aney’s life by cautioning him against going to the house next door to check on the neighbors. Aney, still not buying where she is coming from, goes outside and finds how things happened the same way Antara had warned.
Through a flashy cut, we find Antara waking up disoriented the following day- the camera and sound design echoing her hazy state. Soon, she finds herself facing a crisis- she is now a famous surgeon in the same city, with only a police officer (Pavail Gulati) willing to believe her bizarre time travel story. Everyone at work starts addressing her as ‘ma’am’ and a ‘doctor.’ Will Antara be able to find her way back from the infernal loop? Does the handsome inspector who tends to show up wherever Antara is, know more than he lets on? And will she willfully accept finally being what she always aspired to become- a doctor?
Dobaaraa Movie Themes, Explained:
The original script for the film “Mirage” clearly referenced the butterfly effect in chaos theory; a Que sera, sera” (Whatever will be, will be) effect. It, metaphorically, implies that a minor occurrence such as a butterfly flapping its wings can influence a cataclysmic event (or a series of one) like a tornado unfolding in a distant place many weeks later. It’s a theory that’s often been at the heart of the premise for several SciFi films throughout popular culture. It also acts as an alluring, poetic reminder that a human being’s seemingly small actions can have a domino effect; there can be several unexpected consequences on the course of the universe, as Antara finds out, to her dismay in the latter half of the film. This philosophical question forms the basis of “Dobaaraa.”
By avoiding the ever-confusing conversation around the grandfather paradox, the movie obliquely asks these philosophical questions by placing our protagonist in the middle of this dilemma. Would she give up on her very dream of finally being recognized as a doctor just because she can’t live in a world without her beloved daughter? Does saving a life mean you must live with a sacrifice on your behalf? To salvage her present, Dr. Antara Vashishta must figure out what happened when she accidentally, and with the best of intentions, saved a 12-year-old’s life.
Dobaaraa Movie Ending, Explained
Antara finds out that in this version of her life, the man she had a daughter with is actually married to someone else. Based on her earlier suspicion, she now finds out for sure how Vikas (the famous Hindi political catchphrase for progress) had been cheating upon her wife for quite a long time, blaming it all on his own insecurities (he works as a hotel security head). After a heavy round of interrogation and back and forth, we finally get to learn that the dead body Aney saw at the film’s beginning was true of the wife, who was killed accidentally that night in the middle of an argument and confrontation born out of an extramarital affair.
Following the confession by the couple who secretly made it without getting caught for over twenty-five years, it’s revealed that the police officer who had been extending his support for Antara all this while is indeed Aney himself. The hospital that his mother had worked in was the very place Dr. Antara Vashishta worked at. Not only that, the two had fallen in love and eventually ended up marrying. But soon after she learns of this, Antara explains to Aney how even though she respects the unflinching curiosity with which he had waited for the hospital to get built over the years, it’s still not right for her to live with this fact. She explains how living as a doctor without her daughter would always make her feel like an intruder into someone else’s storyline.
Being heartbroken, Aney watches Antara go away as a vehicle suddenly kills her off in the middle of the road. The paranoid Aney now heads back to their house, as his mother waits for him just the way she did during a similar thunderous night back in 1996. Realizing he only has a few minutes to make things right for once and all, he re-aligns the TV set with the exact arrangement as the clock hits 2:12, as the surrounding lights flicker in suspense for one last time. He asks his own younger self not to count on anyone called Antara going ahead and how he shouldn’t be fixated on the idea of wanting a solid answer for everything.
The next day, the storm goes away. And life, as it was before, is back to normal. Antara, now happily reunited with her daughter, confronts her husband regarding his secret affair. Heading towards a new start, she takes off her wedding ring moments before Aney approaches her, knowing better now how he wouldn’t recognize her immediately. The two shake hands, and like a full circle, the movie draws to an end with the possibility of something beautiful sprouting out of the garden of chance and fate.
The Flaw & Loopholes of the film
Altering history by tampering with the space-time continuum has always been for filmmakers making a Sci-Fi- fantasy genre flick. Anurag Kashyap, known for his very flair of constantly injecting the right amount of pessimism and rawness to emotions on screen, manages to throw in a murder mystery subplot within the realms of the fantasy time traveling stuff. He, along with writer Nihit Bhave, manages to keep the viewers on the edge of their seats by maintaining an iron grip over the film’s pacing for most of the first half.
The sloppy execution, however, starts to creep up during the second half of the screenplay, where a lot of crucial reveals seem rushed. Unlike most of AK’s films, the real cultural rootedness in “Dobaaraa” always seems missing. Maybe this was a deliberate artistic choice so that the audience could naturally project their mishaps with a lack of personal reconciliation in life with those of the characters on screen. But what this leads to is a complete lack of emotional latch when you choose to reveal your main ‘suspense’ right before the film’s big cathartic moment.