Out of Love Review: Rasika Dugal Shoulders this Psychological Infidelity Drama

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Out of Love Review: Rasika Dugal Shoulders this Psychological Infidelity Drama

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

With a second original Indian show that draws inspiration from existing BBC shows, Hotstar is perfecting a model for adapting popular British series and remaking them for Indian audiences. Earlier this year, the streaming platform released the uneven Criminal Justice, an adaptation of the British series which had previously been remade by HBO as The Night Of. And now, we have Out of Love, a faithful adaptation of the acclaimed BBC series, Doctor Foster. Yet, despite the adherence to already existing templates, there’s something to be said about how Hotstar has utilised it – both these premises effortlessly translate to the Indian context. While Criminal Justice’s dissection of the public horror that is the Indian justice system mirrors the events in the country at large, Out Of Love concerns itself with something more private: the dissolution of trust in a marriage.

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Out of Love isn’t the first Indian show to take a crack at the complexities of infidelity, but it might be the rare show that locates the pulse of the betrayal: the psychological terrors.

Hotstar

Co-directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and Aijaz Khan, Out of Love unfolds in idyllic Coonoor over five one-hour-long episodes. The plot revolves around Meera (Rasika Dugal), a married doctor in her late 30s, who discovers that her husband, Akarsh (a miscast Purab Kohli), is having an extramarital affair with a much younger woman. The fact that they have a young son, everyone but her seems to have been aware of the affair, and her husband could possibly be hiding more secrets, makes matters even worse. Narrated entirely from the perspective of Meera, Dhulia and Khan, along with co-writers Abhiruchi Chand and Suyash Trivedi, paint a slow-building but striking portrait of obsession that begets destruction without taking any sides.

Much of the strengths of Out Of Love is derived solely from the makers letting Meera, and by extension, Dugal retain control of its narrative.

Out of Love isn’t the first Indian show to take a crack at the complexities of infidelity, but it might be the rare show that locates the pulse of the betrayal: the psychological terrors. For Meera, the worst part about her husband cheating on her isn’t the cheating itself; instead the shame is in coming to terms with the fact that she had to find out about it. Dugal, a reliable actor, brings forth a quiet tragedy to the two scenes where Meera stumbles upon clues to her husband’s transgressions. In the first sequence, her face remains vacant as she chances upon a strand of blonde hair on her husband’s clothes. The complete opposite happens in the second sequence where she explodes as her suspicions are confirmed. As she finds out, not only is her husband cheating on her, but he also has an entirely separate life that doesn’t involve her. Dugal see-saws between the length and breadth of jealousy, shock, anger, and heartbreak with ease, elevating what could be a generic examination of the breakdown of a marriage into a riveting character study of a woman left to fend for herself.

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Dugal, a reliable actor, brings forth a quiet tragedy to the two scenes where Meera stumbles upon clues to her husband’s transgressions.

Hotstar

Much of the strengths of Out Of Love, whose writing can at times feel too safe, is derived solely from the makers letting Meera, and by extension, Dugal retain control of its narrative. Take for instance, the scene where Meera throws away happily family pictures on discovering that the life that she has been leading has been nothing but a lie, but then goes back seconds later to pick up the pieces. It’s a wordless scene that manages to capture the central conflict of being the scorned wife, that involves putting your emotions in the backburner to save not just your marriage, but more importantly the idea of a family. It’s aided by the show’s lean length: The fact that Dhulia and Khan wrap up matters in under six hours ensures that Out Of Love has just the right amount of deceit, that unravels the ugliness of human impulses without overstating it. In doing so, it culminates into a compelling juxtaposition of marriage and infidelity, arguing that sometimes the things that we do out of love are the very reasons that have us fall out of love.

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