Cast: Shefali Shah, Kirti Kulhari, Vishal Jethwa, Ram Kapoor, Indraneil Sengupta, Aditya Srivastav, and ensemble.
Creator: Vipul Amrutlal Shah
Director: Vipul Amrutlal Shah & Mozez Singh.
Streaming On: Disney+ Hotstar
Runtime: 10 episodes, around 45 minutes each.
Human Review: What’s It About:
The medical world is a world that not many understand. Human, a show that ventures into unexplored territories, goes into the dark underbelly of the system that sees humans as guinea pigs and uses them to test their inventions. What follows is a failed experiment that opens a bag of worms that spread across the system.
Human Review: What Works:
Doctor, the saviour of mankind, a god in the white coat. These aren’t just phrases but emotions we hold for them. But imagine if these very gods are actually devils experimenting with your body, and claiming it to be for the greater good? Written by Mozez, Ishani Banerjee and 5 other writers (including dialogues), Human is a brave take on the dark underbelly of medical science we are hardly aware of. Of course, it is fiction, and that is how it must be consumed.
Man-made calamities are disastrous and Bhopal is a living and breathing example of that. Human set in a state where the ghost of Gas Tragedy (1984) lurks around in every corner and has been also hit by Covid-19, the pressure is already high. Yes, there is a show set in the pre-covid era and people are roaming around without masks, hope is alive. But is it really in the world Vipul Amrutlal Shah and team create?
Human opens up to the visuals of hundreds of lab rats being prepared to experiment new drugs on them. Soon the dead ones out of them are thrown into the drainage and begins the show. The next in line are the members of the most evolved species and their fault is that they were born to the marginalised. The trailer tells you enough about what the show is based on, but deep down it is the game of class, power and ego of the rich who don’t see the poverty-ridden people anymore worth than their lab rats. In a crucial scene, Shefali even says, “vaise bhi gareebon ke zindagi ki kya value hai”.
The writing in Human briefly reminds me of Paatal Lok and Made In Heaven. Before you come at me, let me explain. Not as metaphorical as the Jaideep Ahlawat starrer, but the writing in Human addresses the hierarchy of the society very closely. There is a lady who has hustled to become one of the haves from the have nots. A have not is ready to do anything to have a good life. The have nots are paying the price so the elite could earn more money.
While creating a fictional tale about the illegal drug testing syndicate, the writers and directors also address real world problems. Pharma companies going bankrupt in their quest to make the Covid-19 vaccine, victims of Bhopal tragedy almost selling their misery to earn money, the poor suffering due to greed of the people at the top position. Take all of it and add some drama and logical drama is what the creators do here.
The relationships in Human are crafted with care. There is a couple in an open marriage. They know about each other’s affairs, but call each other jaan. Another, who are more of companions but the wife hides her s*xuality. The writing never looks at them with judgemental gaze. Rather it’s more factual gaze and you aren’t allowed to judge, it’s their life.
The writing makes a point in a scene that many might not even notice. By the second half of the show, Kirti’s Saira and Shefali’s Gauri are in a bar. They try to emote power with their demeanour. While Gauri tells Saira she has the power, she immediately makes her notice a huge diamond in her ear and cryptically confirms who is the boss. I might be reading too much between the lines but cannot ignore.
Sirsha Ray’s cinematography is nice. It does intrigue you to an extent. The symmetry of it all, and the gest to keep the mystery alive. Capturing the beauty of the house Shefali resides while also managing to have a suspense factor about it throughout must be a task and Ray does it well.
Human Review: Star Performance:
Casting is the strongest department in Human. Shefali Shah is gifted with the best eyes and they emote even the smallest of the emotion. Remember I made a comparison with Made In Heaven, Mozez and team write Gauri like Tara. You don’t meet her as a villain, but as the layers peel off you see the real woman who has killed (literally) every roadblock in her way to be rich. She goes from ‘oh so good lady’ to ‘please someone stop her’ and trust me you won’t dare to stop her. Shefali shows a range that quick and impactful.
The makers to explain her mind which is a puzzle, create her surrounding equally mysterious. The house she lives in is an embodiment of her confusing personality. While it stands stark opposite a temple of goddess Manglagauri, the goddess of purity, no member in the family really understands the term. The ambience forever gives out spooky vibe. Every single thing is an exaggeration of what we call luxury, just like the dreams a poor little girl (Gauri) might have had. But amid all these are blood thirsty breed of dogs, who Gauri has trained to love (only her). She portrays herself to be the saint, but is devil in disguise. Leave me on this set and I can write thesis.
Kirti Kulhari gets a meaty part to play. A woman who has thrived hard to give her life a meaning, and sabotage the pain of hiding her reality, she knows the trauma of being marginalised in a way. It is technically her character through who’s lens we see this world. We understand things through her. The actor doesn’t disappoint and shines well in the emotional scenes.
Vishal Jethwa is a talent to look for. I did not even recognise him in the first go. As strong and inhumane he was is Mardani, the actor is vulnerable and helpless here. Of course he has his shares of wrongs, but none to justify the pain he goes through. It is through his character and surrounding the practical and metaphorical side effects of the drugs are shown. Lives are taken like pests and never compensated for. Jethwa stands right in the centre of the have nots and becomes one. Such an amazing talent.
Seema Biswas gets a quite mystical role here. She is also a result of a traumatic past but what she becomes is something one must dread. Rest everyone including Ram Kapoor, Aditya Srivastava, Indraneil Sengupta and ensemble get their parts right.
Human Review: What Doesn’t Work:
I hope Seema Biswas’ character Roma Maa had a bit more to do in the main plot. Even the cinematography when shifts to her part of the screenplay, the colour tone changes and isn’t a smooth experience.
While Saviour, a drug that saves patients from heart problems is the central conflict, there is also another drug to make people forget their trauma. The mystery around the trauma drug isn’t given much meat for us to be invested enough to be on the same emotional note which Gauri is when the castle falls.
Not a bad point but a disclaimer for the faint hearted, Human goes too much into details of surgeries and multiple times. Go in keeping it in mind.
Human Review: Last Words:
Human is an experiment the OTT arena deserves right now. Shefali Shah’s talent needs no validation and you must surrender to it. Watch the show on Disney+ Hotstar and you won’t regret.
Want to try something light hearted? Read our Dhindora Review here.