Mumbai Diaries has a plethora of characters that feel very real, and the viewers will find themselves relating to their life issues and dilemmas. The men and women in this show are not right or wrong. They are just human beings who make mistakes, learn from them, and move on. It is endearing to see them take this path of gray shades instead of drawing a stark line between being a good person or a bad person.
Dr. Chitra Das is introduced in season one as the Director of Social Services at Bombay General Hospital. She is known for helping the poor and the needy in this government hospital and allows herself to get overwhelmed with work. She has a reputation to keep up with and Chitra makes sure all the work at the hospital is done in the smoothest manner possible. Since this is a government hospital, people from every strata walk in on a minute basis, so there is no time for her to breathe. Chitra is a workaholic in the true sense; for she knows illnesses, do not wait for anyone. It is her duty as the core member of the hospital to make sure all patients are attended to by doctors frequently, and they try their level best to keep up with the survival rate.
Chitra Das was witness to the influx that was coming into the hospital on the fateful night of November 26. The events that happened around the city were a nightmare, and plenty of injured people from the attacks were moved to the Bombay General Hospital. Chitra Das, as the Director of Social Services, was at the forefront of all the treatments that were going on as part of the rescue work. She tried to control the influx owing to the unavailability of a lot of supplies, but the team made sure the death rate remained as low as possible.
Apart from the work she does at the hospital, Chitra Das is a flawed individual who has lived a tough life and had to struggle to reach this point where she is relatively happier. She has claustrophobia, a fear of closed spaces. Even though she works in a crowded hospital, it does not overwhelm her as much as a tiny, closed room does. There is no explanation initially given as to why she feels this way, but as season two begins, we get to see the man behind Chitra Das’s trauma.
Chitra was known for fighting from the front, and that is exactly what she did in the first season when the terrorists wreaked havoc in the name of rescuing their fellow gunmen. Chitra had to make sure to stay away from the gunmen and not get caught in the crossfire. Just like the rest of the team, she was making sure none of the staff or the patients admitted and getting treated were harmed by the mayhem caused by the terrorists. Her attempts to hide from the rest were short-lived because the terrorists used her as a human shield to get away from the hospital. Chitra never wanted to be in that position, nor did she ever wonder that the night could be the last day of her life.
Chitra’s background is not explained in detail in the first season because we think the writers wanted to establish her as a character and allow the viewers to understand some of her health issues and work ethic. Chitra was good at her job, which allowed her to be in a position of power to make many important decisions.
Chitra’s character is given a lot more gravitas in the second season, where we get to see the reason for her trauma and pain. Her estranged husband, Dr. Saurav Chandra, was a part of the British delegation that arrived in the city amid heavy rainfall to commemorate Bombay General Hospital for their exceptional work during the 26/11 attacks. Chitra is shocked to see him in the group and that he knew she was working there. Chitra was a victim of years of domestic and emotional abuse at the hands of her controlling and narcissistic husband. He went out of his way to make sure she remained a puppet in his hand and never worried about the impact his actions and words had on her.
Chitra’s case is that of an abuse victim who stayed in a marriage for far too long and kept blaming herself for Saurav’s authoritative personality. She, unfortunately, found many reasons to defend him but could not find any to save herself, until finally she did. Her running away from the marriage is symbolic of her mind and body waking up to the trauma and realizing she couldn’t take it anymore. Chitra is not divorced yet; she hid herself away in a crowded city like Mumbai so that Saurav never came looking for her. He finally did, but Chitra knew that he was a manipulative, abusive man who would lie through his teeth to make her trust him. Chitra’s claustrophobia is caused by his habit of locking her up in a closet just to showcase his control over his wife. Living and breathing the same air as him for the next twenty four hours is a stuff of a nightmare, but people in the hospital need help, and she will have to make sure they do not get affected because of her issues with the man she detests.
Chitra’s belief in written affirmations proves that she believes in therapy, and relying on it helped put her mind at ease. Initially, she was willing to believe him when he claimed that he had indeed changed, but again, it was just his words that made her stay in the marriage for many years. The affirmations helped her realize that he was not telling the truth and that he could still want to harm her for running away from him.
Chitra, thankfully, did not need anybody to rescue her from the monster she is still technically married to. Learning that he forced himself into the delegation to see her in Mumbai made it easy for her to decide on the divorce. It was simple for her to let him know that she could not stay in that marriage anymore. She vehemently chose her sanity. Chitra finally found the courage from within herself to confront the beast that he was and let him know that his manipulative techniques would not work on her. It was empowering to watch Chitra take charge of her life instead of asking for someone else to fight for her. She had to do this to exert her worth. As a woman, she was put through years of trauma, and it was time she started healing from it and slowly moved on with her life.