Star Cast: Mohit Raina, Konkona Sen Sharma, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Mrunmayee Deshpande, Satyajeet Dubey, Natasha Bharadwaj and ensemble.
Creator: Nikkhil Advani
Director: Nikkhil Advani and Nikhil Gonsalves
Streaming On: Amazon Prime Video
Mumbai Diaries Web Series Review: What’s It About:
If you have lived in Mumbai for decades, or were in the city and sensible enough to understand the horrors of the 26/11 terrorist attack, the mention is enough to give us the chills. Mumbai Diaries 26/11 is a fictionalised account of what all happened in the government hospital and how it wasn’t just the Terrorists they were fighting but the system at large too. And my staple quote, “it is fiction, watch it with that perspective.”
Mumbai Diaries Web Series Review: What Works:
It’s been almost 13 years since the horrific terrorist attacks of November 26, 2008. I was 13 and completely traumatised as a cousin was about to board a train to Gujarat the next morning when it all began. We all have stories of the attack, some suffered some hearsay. 4 feature films, 5 books and 3 documentaries made/written about the horrific nights that brought Mumbai to a standstill. The what does the fictionalised account about the event has more to add to the conversation?
The perspective that no one ever saw the war through, the hospital, through doctors who battled to save lives that were on the verge of ending. Mumbai Diaries 26/11, more than the terrorist entering the city, is about the frontline workers who put everything at stake and stood that night for the ones fighting for breath. Writers Yash Chhhetija, Nikhil Gonsalves and Anushka Mehrotra get on the job just like the doctors. We all know what had happened and how it was a collective failure, so they get to the point where the frontline workers entered the war.
We are introduced to the Bombay General Hospital, a character in itself. Almost ancient enough to fall but somehow surviving storms, metaphoric to the tumbling system inside. Hours before the doom begins, we meet the doctors and his three new trainees who are both elated and petrified of what they are about to get into. A quick walk through the backstories tells you enough, and the game to save lives begins. The hardship to cater to every patient, make every breath count and worth takes the centre stage.
But dare you to think it is only about the terrorists causing destruction, and doctors saving the day, but it is everything around this that makes Mumbai Diaries 26/11 so good. There are subplots of the class divide, nepotism, systemic oppression, gender gap, pharmacy politics, strained relationships and so much more. That’s the beauty of aptly fictionalising an incident that happened for real, not for the sake of it but with some meat.
The direction by Nikkhil Advani and Nikhil Gonsalves is to stir emotions inside you. They don’t disguise the drama as a documentary, they open fire emotional bullets and they hit you on time. What helps them is Priya Suhas’ production design that comes alive in every corner of this establishment. Kaushal Shah’s camera comes to enhance it further. He captures the stress in extremely long shots as everyone runs to save lives. He manhandles the camera giving it the jerks and pushes so the feel stays authentic. Full marks.
Full marks also to Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh who writes the dialogues with not one audience strata in her head. Every two individuals of the same region talk in their native language and not broken Hindi. This is Mumbai and it runs on diversity. Winner.
Mumbai Diaries Web Series Review: Star Performance
There is a lot of pressure on the actors. We all know the films where actors act like they are scared and that makes us laugh more than worried. Well, the bunch of actors are put to the same test here. The tension is a notch higher as most of them play doctors and they have to keep working with fear on their faces.
Mohit Raina leads the pack as Dr Kaushik Oberoi. A man as wild as his walking style that knows no one trail. He runs through the hospital as if he knows each tile and the hole in them. Raina who has now become the new favourite for makers to put in situations like these, is worth watching every minute.
Enhanced by Konkona Sen Sharma, her screen presence is something I have been a fan of for years now. Playing a trauma survivor Chitra Das, the Social Service Director, she gets each note of her character just right. Acting like you are in a traumatic situation having lived another trauma is tough and she aces. While advising Kaushik once she says, “Be a woman and do all it takes,” you go girl!
In the supporting department, the show gets a terrific Satyajeet Dubey, an impressive Natasha Bharadwaj and my favourite Mrunmayee Deshpande who wins heart with her portrayal of a girl who has faced class and gender divide first hand. Also, is she even ageing?
Shreya Dhanwanthary who we last remember from The Scam 1992, gets to play a journalist again. While she plays a reporter with finesse, this got to be one of the most authentic portrayals of a newsroom, she manages to grab attention. Of course, the mistake media houses did by giving live coverage is highlighted and needs to be discussed.
Mumbai Diaries Web Series Review: What Doesn’t Work:
Not too much but the show takes a dip before it enters the final act. The number of patients coming in has decreased now and we are being prepared for the doom to magnify. But the prepping period is what takes a dip.
Tina Desai who plays Ananya, Kaushik’s (Mohit) wife is forgotten for a very long time. She is stuck in the hotel that the terrorists take hostage but is a character you will admire.
Mumbai Diaries Web Series Review: The Last Word
Mumbai Diaries is a show with the correct amount of fiction, drama, acting and noteworthy actors who actually cook this broth to almost perfection. But as I always say, watch any fictional retelling of a real-life event with the word ‘fiction’ in your mind, I would advice you to do the same today too.