Series Review: ‘Mumbai Diaries 26/11’

By Dr.Priyaankaa Mathur

Mumbai Diaries 26/11 directed by Nikhil Advani takes you through the horror of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks bringing a strong take on many aspects ranging from India’s internal and external security, the role of media, the courage displayed by the medical fraternity, the hospitality industry professionals and the police force at the time of this unprecedented crisis.

26/11 was one of the most gruesome nights, labelled rightly as the worst terrorist attacks that India ever faced. 10 deadly terrorists entered Mumbai from Gateway of India via the sea route, loaded with arms and ammunition. They ruthlessly started killing people in south Mumbai locations starting from the Leopold Cafe Colaba, moving into CST Station, Taj Hotel, Nariman House, and Trident Hotel. The incident accounted for 172 deaths and 300 injuries.9 out of 10 hostages were shot dead in a three-day rescue operation, while one hostage Ajmal Kasab was taken into custody and hanged after a trial in 2012.

Although the series is a work of fiction, the story unleashed the horror of death and destruction, intertwined with a hospital drama, set as the backdrop of the tragic incident, which comes to you as almost real. The series portrays the swiftness of the well-trained doctors, surgeons and nurses, who put their best efforts trying to save lives amid adversity at the Bombay General Hospital used as a fictional name for the real-life Cama Hospital.

Mohit Raina plays the ace doctor Kaushik Oberoi, who with his colleagues Chitra Das (Konkona Sen Sharma), the Hospital administrator Dr Subramaniam (Prakash Belawadi),three new trainees who had their first day in the hospital on the dreaded night played by Satyajeet Dubey, Natasha Bharadwaj, Mrunmayee Deshpande, and the nurses (Balaji Gauri, Adithi Kalkunte) along with the ward boys, all play their parts most aptly.

The series represents well the typical government hospital environment, where the life-saving equipment is less, but the grit to save lives is more. These lifesavers abide truly by their hypocritic oath to save a life at any cost. While a few operations are done in the emergency rooms, due to non-availability of operation theatres, since the attack riden patients had no time. You can feel the urgency portrayed most authentically with the swiftness of their action.

The series is an eye-opener towards the need for responsible journalism and a reality check towards the role of media, and how it can worsen a critical situation like this.A restraint was required to cover every movement of the police, which provided every detail to the terror mastermind which costed many lives, as the terrorists could plan their counteraction well against the police.

The series portrays well a crazy journalist played by Shreya Dhanwanthary, who chases the story to the point that the situation becomes worst. She even injures herself to enter the hospital to send news scoops about the two injured hostages who were being treated at the hospital. Eventually, the terrorists enter the hospital to save their folks killing many innocent lives and the best of the police officers, while they were later hunted down in a planned encounter.

At one point the series questions the integrity of the Maverick doctorKaushik Oberoi (Mohit Raina), who is known to go out of the way to save lives, and yet again saves the life of one of the terrorists. Indeed the doctor was just doing his duty to save a life, as for them it’s the life that is important and not the character of the patient.

The series brings many emotional moments while the hospital staff shares their lives with each other, as you see some interesting flashes of their backstories. Meanwhile they face the first blow of the incident when one of the hospital nurses gets badly wounded at the attack at the CST, while she was heading home for her child’s birthday and eventually dies in the hospital in front of her colleagues.

You see some brilliant expressions being communicated while you can feel the hysteria through the high pitched cries, and low sobs by the men folks,when someone breathes last in one’s arms or is shot in front of one’s eyes.While at many places,the doctors conveyed only through the eyes, in the silent paused moments, suggesting to just have faith, as goodness still prevails.

You also feel a blunt reference to the caste and religious prejudice in India, while an old patient Biji narrates to the hospital staff, her story about how she lost her family in the name of religion in the 1984 riots. While, being treated at the hospital one of the injured policemen pushes one of the trainee female doctors refusing to be treated by a low caste doctor or a Muslim.

The story also throws light on the dedication of the hospitality industry professionals during the crisis, while it runs parallel through the rescue operations at the Palace Hotels fictional name given to the Taj Hotel. A courageous hospitality executive (Tina Desai) tries her best to lead the guests in the hotel to safe exits, without caring of her own life. The series concludes brilliantly defining the actual meaning of Jihad, and how due to it’s misinterpretation, terror gets its wings.

FF Ratings: ***

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