Mumbai Diaries 26/11 Review: An Ode to the Strength & Resilience of Mumbai
Mumbai Diaries 26/11 stars Konkana Sen Sharma, Mohit Raina, and is directed by Nikkhil Advani.
Mumbai Diaries 26/11
Mumbai Diaries 26/11 Review: An Ode to the Strength and Resilience of Mumbai
I remember I was only but a teenager when I watched the evening news with my parents when I saw one of the most beautiful buildings I had ever seen on fire. That was one of my earliest brushes with how cruel the world was. I remember having nightmares and spending days thinking about what had happened. Now, more than a decade later, the incident evokes the same sense of helplessness.
For those who think they can break the back of a city like Mumbai, will be proven wrong again and again for it will only rise from the ashes like a proud phoenix, ready to be home to all the Maharashtrians, Punjabis, Gujaratis, Tamilians, to all the Hindus, Parsis, Christians and more.
Mumbai Diaries 26/11 highlights beautifully and subtly that there never was and never will be another city as metropolitan, diverse, as much like a family, full of this much speed, friction, difficulties yet dreams, success and grandeur.
It is a ruthless mother who will caress her children nonetheless and it is that spirit, which has made it what it is today. To Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Inspector Vijay Salaskar, ASI Ombale, Assistant Police Inspector Shashank Shinde, Constable Ambadas Ramchandra Pawar and the countless other police personnel, NSG Commandos, civilians and innocent bystanders who lost their lives either in the line of duty or by being at the wrong place at the wrong time, to the doctors and health care workers who worked tirelessly on the victims across Mumbai and for all humanity who was hurt on this fateful day.
I know that the system in this country is broken to the point that the police or medical staff is unable to be of use to most people, due to a lack of resources, intention and will at times, another reality that this show painfully highlights.
We learn that the system is full of corruption, greed, ignorance and a sick conservative mentality that erodes humanity but the show also teaches us that not all heroes wear capes and not everyone in the system is rotten. To all the people who sacrificed themselves to this senseless act to save others, may you rest in peace and may your names be forever remembered.
In the show, systematic breakdown, the reality of Mumbai and personal struggles are wrapped up in this story of doctors at a hospital in Mumbai, who have their own demons. Failed marriages, small town aspirations, religious isolation, trying to live beyond the shadow of a hugely successful father and trying to make ends meet on a meagre government salary - we get to know these people and their lives before they’re together plunged into the darkness of that night, when endless casualties come to their creaking doors.
With the doctors and the hospital as a central focus in the backdrop of the 26/11 attacks, we also follow the police personnel, the journalists and the common man, all trying to either battle or make sense of what is going on.
The story is an engaging entry point into the calamity and for a show with so much going on, there is surprising clarity in almost every written element. The characters are rock solid. They’re nuanced, well fleshed out, very real and lived in and for the most part, relatable. When the last episode ends, you have love for them all. There are no bad guys but just people, doing their duty.
The screenplay is swift, brisk, quick and has plenty of speed, being able to for the most part create an atmosphere of tension, stress and anxiety which may not be for the faint hearted. I could feel my heart racing. The dialogues too are real and well written, that one watching this won’t notice them. Good dialogue is almost invisible yet memorable and this show does exactly that.
Though the writing is great for the most part, there are moments of excessive melodrama but perhaps that comes with the territory and then there are also tropes, like people popping pills, disconnected phone calls and unanswered texts, running around in concentric circles, that don’t land as repeated visuals and symbols but seem repetitive and boring, now allowing the script to hold onto high speed and high pressure all the time.
The direction, by Nikhil Gonsalves and Nikkhil Advani, matches the writing in keeping with the subject matter. The camera moves in and out of rooms, follows people quickly and is probably never stable, adding a lot of drama, really supplementing the writing.
The music score is a little too loud and present in places, distracting from the story rather than reinforcing it, but the constant presence of police sirens, ambulance sirens, ICU machines and gun shots, is very effective in creating an intensity that doesn’t let out for a moment, not letting us forget, in the show’s 8 episode run, how charged this moment in history was.
The set design, make up, the editing and costumes work so well together to create a high-quality product of realism. We even get to see the now popular found footage treatment, the makers of this show allowing us glances into the real news channel footage from the incident. The universe of the footage and the one created by the writers Yash Chhetija, Nikhil Gonsalves, Anushka Mehrotra and Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh blend seamlessly.
Mohit Raina as the pained workaholic doctor, Konkona Sen Sharma as the empath with the brutal past, Mrunmayee Deshpande as the small-town girl with pride and a chip on her shoulder and Prakash Belawadi as the tempered head of the hospital, are some standout performances, while everyone else is equally good if not better.
To watch this show, one must have a strong stomach and viewer discretion is advised. As an ode to the strength and resilience of Mumbai and the people of Mumbai, there couldn’t have been a better one.
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