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Digital Review: ‘Mumbai Diaries 26/11’ (Amazon Prime)

Since the series of terror attacks that occurred in Mumbai in 2008 which claimed the lives of 175 people, a lot has been made out on what occurred on those fateful days following 26th November. A number of movies and documentaries have explored the role of the police, the army, the victims and even the terrorists during that period, but none have highlighted the work of the doctors, nurses, paramedics and hospital staff. That is till now, as ‘Mumbai Diaries 26/11’, which released on Amazon Prime this week, aims to retell the horrors of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks from the perspective of the medical fraternity.

Created by award-winning filmmaker Nikhil Advani, the eight-part series aims to pay tribute to the frontline heroes who saved many lives during the terror attacks. The series boasts of an impressive ensemble cast including Mohit Raina, Konkona Sen Sharma, Tina Desai, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Satyajeet Dubey, Natasha Bharadwaj, Mrunmayee Deshpande and Prakash Belawadi.

Right from the onset, the series begins to introduce us to the crowded, chaotic, heavily under-resourced and understaffed government hospital, whose doctors and nurses are stretched to their limits on any given day of the year, let alone at a time of calamity of unforeseeable magnitude. It goes on to touch difficult topics such as anxiety, depression, whether or not a terrorist should be given medical treatment and even showcases the prejudice that some of the characters hold against others.

The fantastic direction by Advani and Nikhil Gonsalves stirs the emotions inside you by firing emotional bullets – hitting you each time, right in the feels. Kaushal Shah’s camera work helps 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 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. Mumbai is a diverse city, home to hundreds of different cultures – for once, an Indian drama series/movie does not shy away from it.

The back story of each character in the series could easily transform into a spin-off itself. The workaholic surgeon Dr Kaushik Oberoi (Raina) who blames himself for the miscarriage his wife suffered few years before, the director of social services, Chitra Das (Sen Sharma), who is overcoming the trauma of an abusive marriage, or the trainee doctor Diya Parekh (Bharadwaj), whose grandfather funded a key wing of the hospital and faces accusations of nepotism from her colleagues but develops other issues that are aggravated as the night wears on. Each actor/actress manages to hold their own, providing a strong screen presence throughout each of the eight hour-long episodes.

Everything from its production and character arcs to the way it was written and then executed, it all falls into place. Stellar performances paired with the right pace of narration means you are left with an almost perfect drama series which strikes a chord with the viewers. Powerful, emotional and most importantly, unmissable – a must watch!

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