Director: Nikkhil Advani
Cast: Mohit Raina, Konkona Sensharma, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Natasha Bharadwaj, Tina Desai, Satyajeet Dubey, Mrunmayee Deshpande, Prakash Belawadi
Bollywood Bubble Rating: 3 1/2 stars
When you hear about the deadly 26/11 Mumbai attack, you expect the terrorist VS police war story being repeated over and over. In a surprising and refreshing retelling, the Amazon Prime show, Mumbai Diaries 26/11, focuses on the behind-the-scene struggles, chaos and crisis situation faced by the unsung heroes, the people who perhaps did not make it to headlines. The hotel staff, hospital staff, doctors. Largely focused on how the medical team effectively reacted to the terror situation, Mumbai Diaries. 26/11 builds up a gripping narrative surrounding the complexities, the social and moral dilemma one faces in unprecedented times.
Divided across 8 different chapters, Mumbai Diaries 26/11 focused on the normal routine in any city, in its opening shot. People enjoying their caffeine at Leopold Cafe while enjoying a cricket match, the daily chaos in an hospital, guests at Palace hotel and the continuous hustle by media personnel for breaking stories. All seemed normal till the city of dreams was attacked by terrorists on what seemed like a normal evening. No one was prepared to deal with this, not even the police. The thriller focuses on 4-5 main characters, including Kaushik Oberoi (Mohit Raina), Chitra Das (Konkona Sen Sharma), Mansi (Shreya Dhanwanthary), Ananya (Tina Desai), Sujata (Mrunmayee Deshpande), Ahaan (Satyajit Dubey) among others to weave an interesting story which feels authentic.
The show is rather fast-paced in the first four episodes but later feels a bit stretched. Director Nikhil Advani uses a rather raw approach to tell this tale of courage without leaving much room for fiction. Although towards the end, it does end up feeling more fiction than not, the creative liberty taken can be overlooked and pardoned. Efforts are made to recreate the atmosphere with the medical staff making do with limited resources. There are scenes that gives you an overview of the gruesome act, bodies piled up in morgue, the helplessness of doctors who are unable to save lives, the guilt, the failure of system and so on. The moral and social obligation one faces in situations like this is highlighted well. Sample this, there is a scene where the terrorist is brought to the hospital and the doctor is forced to choose if he should save him or let him die.
The screenplay keeps us hooked with interlacing multiple stories. However, by the end of fifth and sixth episode, it feels overstuffed with parallel stories.
Mohit Raina as Dr. Kaushik is in top form. He brings various nuances to his character and delivers a stellar performance. He is spontaneous, smart, intelligent, a workaholic. He dabbles seamlessly between showing his professional side and his inner turmoil he undergoes while at his job. He really is man of many talents, and the show does justice to his talent. Konkana plays Dr Chitra, who cannot practice medical but is deeply invested in patients life. The dilemma, the struggles (both professional and personal) she faces is beautifully captured throughout the series. Mansi as the journalist is fierce and aggressive. She depicts the adrenaline and the task that comes with the job perfectly. The realistic approach to newsroom chaos is noticeable.
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The makers could have although avoided overstuffing it with other layers like highlighting patriarchy by showing the male guest questioning how a woman would save their lives. It felt forced, to be honest.
While it is understandable why the names of the victims and staff members were changed, the over fictionalisation of certain situations perhaps could have been avoided. The cast and strong writing, however, makes up for the loose ends.
Mumbai Diaries 26/11 is definitely a medical drama you won’t regret watching. It is interesting and impactful.
Also Read: Mumbai Diaries 26/11: Twitterati heap praise on Konkona Sen Sharma and Mohit Raina; say ‘This is looking super intense’