The Girl on the Train now has the rare honor of being adapted twice in less than ten years after its initial book release. Paula Hawkins’ thriller follows divorcee Rachel Watson as she tries to piece together memories of a destructive night and solve the mystery of who murdered her ex-husband’s neighbor Megan. In 2016, DreamWorks adapted the hugely successful book into a film starring Emily Blunt. In 2021, Netflix released a Hindi adaptation of the book starring Parineeti Chopra.
If you’re expecting Netflix’s version of The Girl on the Train to just be a copy and paste version of Emily Blunt’s movie and Paula Hawkins’ book, just in another language, then you’ll either be extremely disappointed or very excited to learn that there are many differences between the three versions. Let’s examine some ways each film version and the book are similar and different.
Spoilers ahead if you haven't read the book or haven't seen the movies!
The Girl On The Train’s Tom Revelation Comes In Different Ways In The Book And Movies
One thing that all three versions of The Girl on the Train have in common is that Tom is the villain. In the book, he’s the bad guy, and in both movies, he’s still the bad guy. However, all three versions slightly change how Rachel --named Mira in Chopra’s version-- figures out that Tom is gaslighting her. In the book, Rachel does a lot of self-reflecting and working on her sobriety. This helps her recall Tom’s lies and past abusive behavior.
In Emily Blunt’s movie, Rachel sees Tom's (Justin Theroux) boss’s wife Martha (Lisa Kudrow) on a train and tries to apologize to her for a party where she believes she threw plates and did all kinds of things while drunk. Martha has no clue what she’s talking about. Rachel is also under the false impression that her behavior at the party got Tom fired.
Martha then tells her that Tom wasn’t fired for what happened that night. Instead, he was fired for having sex with all these women at work. Parineeti Chopra’s version takes a similar path, but she sees Tom's (called Shekhar and played by Avinash Tiwary) boss outside a train station and she is informed that he is fired for sexual harassment. The films likely add this new detail to make how Rachel has her revelation about Tom more dramatic and impactful.
Netflix's The Girl On The Train Has More Suspects
Both the book and Blunt’s movie only really have a few main suspects in the beginning: Megan's (Haley Bennett) husband Scott (Luke Evans), her psychiatrist Dr. Kamal Abdic (Edgar Ramirez). Rachel, and whoever fathered her unborn child, which happens to be Tom.
In Netflix’s version, all those characters are suspects, but there is also a man who follows the Megan character (called Nusrat and played by Aditi Rao Hydari) around. It’s later revealed that he’s a private investigator hired by her husband Anand (Shamaun Ahmed). She also has an ex-boyfriend who is one of the suspects. Netflix’s The Girl on the Train adds these new characters seemingly to try to confuse us more on who could have killed Nusrat and why.
Netflix's Girl On The Train Has Additional Twists
Netflix’s The Girl On the Train adds all these new and familiar suspects just to make Nusrat’s killer someone you least expected: the lead investigator on the case: Inspector Dalbir Kaur Bagga (Kirti Kulhari). Technically, in this version Tom, aka Shekhar, is not Megan/Nusrat’s killer. He strangles her after their confrontation when she reveals that she’s pregnant, but he runs off and just believes that he kills her.
Instead, her real killer is the woman investigating her murder. In the film’s biggest WTF moment, Mira discovers that inspector Bagga is really the one who killed the private investigator Walter (Richie Lawrie), tried to kill her several times, and killed Nusrat. She only killed Nusrat because she caught Bagga trying to strangle Mira, so she had to get rid of the witness. Bagga is the daughter of a man that Mira (as a lawyer) got put away for various crimes. He then committed suicide in prison. Bagga has been trying to ruin or kill Mira for a while.
Mira pulls an “I already knew all this” moment and turns it around. She kills Bagga and frames Shekhar for the murders. Emily Blunt’s version and Netflix’s Girl on the Train both still end with the leads on a train talking about hope and new versions of themself. It’s just that one version is a lot more ruthless now.
The Rachel Character Isn’t Infertile In Netflix's Girl On The Train
In The Girl on the Train book and Blunt’s movie, Rachel being infertile is a major source of her depression and obsession with Tom’s new wife, baby, and life. However, in Chopra’s version, it begins with Mira being pregnant. She miscarries when a black car drives into Shekhar and her car. We later learn that Bagga was driving the car that hit Mira.
Shekhar then lies to Mira claiming that the accident has made it impossible for her to conceive a child. She later learns that Shekhar lied because he doesn’t want children.
The Two Other Main Women Leads Have Smaller Roles In Netflix’s Girl On The Train
The book and original Girl on the Train film switched between all three main women's --Rachel, Megan, and Anna (Rebecca Ferguson)-- perspectives, but the Netflix version of the movie mostly stays in Mira’s point of view, and sometimes Bagga and a little of Nusrat’s perspective. The Anna character, Anjali (Natasha Benton) in this version, is barely in the movie and doesn’t have a child. Megan’s tragic backstory is also completely erased in this film.
In the original film, Megan is so traumatized and detached from her life because her first child tragically drowned when Megan fell asleep with her in the bath tub. This story makes Megan a more sympathetic character. So in Netflix’s The Girl on the Train, you don’t connect with Nusrat or Anjali as much as some may with Anna and Megan.
The Girl On The Train Movies Have Different Tones
Netflix’s Girl on the Train was made for a Hindi audience so it may have elements that a North American audience wouldn’t understand, connect with or appreciate. For example, it starts with a wedding dance sequence. It also starts off more like it’s going to be a romance movie between Shekhar and Mira. It eventually shifts to mystery, but also feels like a horror film at times and like an action thriller. Emily Blunt’s The Girl on the Train and the book both have a psychological drama-thriller tone.
The Girl On The Train Book And Movies Are Set In Different Locations
The Girl on the Train novelis set in London but the 2016 film version is set in New York. Netflix’s Girl on the Train follows the novel this time by setting it in London.
Netflix’s The Girl on the Train is streaming now, and Blunt’s version of the film is available on all your favorite Video on Demand services. Stream it here.