Mumbai Diaries Season 1 was based on the attacks of 26/11 that shook the city of Mumbai and the nation to the core. An attack of this scale led to many casualties and left a deep scar on the fabric of the city. Nikkhil Advani managed to convey a story that was a mix of realism and over-the-top theatrics and presented a decent narrative that was filled with a sense of urgency. As an extension to that world, creator and director of Mumbai Diaries Season Two, Nikkhil Advani, again brings forward a story that is based on the 2005 floods that affected Mumbai. This time the characters are confronting a natural calamity, an entity they can’t hope to have any control over. This eight-episode-long show was released on Amazon Prime Video on October 6, 2023, and boasts an ensemble cast apart from brand new faces.
Mumbai Diaries begins with Kaushik facing an inquiry for breaking many rules on the gruesome night of November 26, 2008. This is followed by a murder case filed by Mrs. Sarita Kelkar on the grounds of medical negligence against Dr. Kaushik Oberoi for letting her husband, the ATF chief, die in the hospital. Dr. Diya Parekh was forced to speak up against Dr. Kaushik, in court, which led to tension amongst her peers and seniors in the Bombay General Hospital.
On the day of the verdict, Mumbai witnessed unprecedented rainfall, followed by severe waterlogging. The situation became uglier as the hospital started filling up with people getting into accidents because of the floods, among other patients. The stories of these patients intertwine with the lives of the second-year residents, including Dr. Diya Parekh, Dr. Ahaan Mirza, and Dr. Sujata Ajawale. This forms one track of the show.
The Bombay General Hospital is also hosting a delegation of British doctors that includes Dr. Saurav Chandra, who is Dr. Chitra’s abusive, estranged husband. He unexpectedly shows up, only to shock her and send her into a frenzy of panic attacks. They had a turbulent history as a married couple, and a lot of it is explored throughout the eight episodes. This forms one of the other important subplots.
The second season of Mumbai Diaries was made with the right intent, but somewhere the narrative got overwhelming, just like the situation in the Bombay General Hospital. The show began on a rather tacky note, where the makers tried to put forward a subplot regarding how media goes hyperactive around stories that fetch them TRPs. In this case, it involves Dr. Kaushik Oberoi. Most of the verdicts are made by television channels, not the court. Presenting the media as the villain has become a regular feature in movies and web series regardless of genre or plot. Filmmakers need to find the right way to present this trope in a relatable manner.
The screenplay does a good job of presenting the condition of government hospitals, especially during the heavy rains that hit the city of Mumbai every year. Despite plenty of dramatizations throughout the runtime, the realistic portrayal of the workplace makes the show engaging from the start until the end. This is an aspect that was present in season one, and Nikkhil Advani intended to keep it as it is in this season as well. The sleeplessness the doctors face because of their nonstop work is almost lifelike. The sense of claustrophobia, grimness, devastation, and feeling of being overwhelmed is well blended with the screenplay. All these sentiments are executed well. Kudos to the director, Nikkhil Advani, for making sure the execution of the screenplay is top notch
The screenplay does have a downside as well. There is a lot of unnecessary drama and too many subplots going on at the same time in one episode. There is no time for anyone to breathe. The viewers understand that this is the story of 24 hours, but to pack in many stories to give every lead a character arc makes the whole show difficult to keep track of.
At one time, the writers Nikkhil Advani, Yash Chhetija, and Persis Sodawaterwala brought forward the stories of homophobia, gender identity, and sexual, emotional, marital, and domestic abuse, all clubbed into one show. The idea of sorting all these concerns in twenty-four hours is farfetched. This is where the show lost the plot, although the screenplay had an element of sentiment that could tug at viewers’ hearts at unexpected places.
Trigger warning for those who have been victims of marital abuse and suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. Dr. Chitra’s frequent spells are an accurate representation of trauma manifesting, and forcing herself to behave normally being a monumental task. Nikkhil Advani and other writers have presented this issue in a manner that anyone who has been through trauma of any kind could relate to it. The makers did a good job at talking about mansplaining because the show is filled with misogynistic men who seem to find joy in explaining basic elements to women. It is hilarious to hear experienced nurses and doctors repeatedly telling people not to teach them their job. Finally, here is a show that talks about how the term “Spirit of Mumbai” negates the fact that people in the city end up suffering every year because of the torrential rains. The makers end up contradicting themselves in the end by celebrating the spirit of the people of Mumbai for rising above the hardship and moving on from this tragic event.
Director Nikkhil Advani is handling a heavy screenplay but that does not affect the filmmaking process. The continuity is excellent, and none of the subplots feel disjointed. All the dots are connected in a proper fashion, which does not confuse the viewers. Most of the subplots have a conclusive ending, which unfortunately includes plenty of melodrama. The cinematography by Malay Prakash is incredible. There are plenty of one-take shots that add to the drama, making the viewing experience intense and engaging.
The Bombay General Hospital eventually becomes a symbol of hope for everyone working in it and for the viewers, and this is solely because of Nikkhil Advani’s skillful direction. The editing of this show stands out because Maahir Zaveri seamlessly cuts the scenes and connects all the narratives skillfully to make the entire show seem watchable. The editing of this show would be an overwhelming task, keeping in mind that the maker is dealing with a lot of stories. Maahir Zaaveri made sure the editing was not chaotic, even though the situation in the show is. The VFX of this season is excellent, and it makes the atmosphere in and around the hospital gritty and scary. The show would remind everyone of this year’s Malayalam film 2018, where rain played an important part in the story.
The production design by Priya Suhas is again a highlight of the show. The cluttered OPD hallways, the crowd, and the noise make the viewer experience how a hospital runs.
The performances, just like in the first season, are the biggest crowd-puller. Kavish Sinha’s casting is excellent. The show allows the viewers to relate to most characters in the show who are working nonstop to make sure people survive. The actors from season one come back to surprise the viewers yet again with their ability to emote so well throughout. They are tired but never lose hope and will go to great lengths to help their patients. The surprise package of the show is Parambrata Chattopadhyay as Dr. Saurav Chandra, who is menacing as the manipulative and abusive husband of Dr. Chitra Das. He goes to great lengths to establish control over his wife, who is unwilling to talk to him. His eyes are terrifying, and there is a calculative mind behind his kind words. His English accent is excellent, which does not throw off the viewers.
Mumbai Diaries season two is overly dramatic in many parts, but there is a sincerity with which these stories were told by the makers. Give it a watch and let yourself breathe as the show concludes.