Mumbai Diaries 26/11
26th November 2008. A day well etched out in the minds of every Mumbaikars and Indians. Each one of us has a story from that day of fear and loss. It is said that Mumbai is a city that does not sleep. People are always on the move here day and night. But on that fateful night, Mumbai was brought down on its knees as it had to valiantly showcase its spirit like always, this time against a group of gunmen who wpuld stop.at nothing. I too had lost someone at the Taj Attacks and being a teenager then it had impacted me immensely. There was anger coupled by the feeling of helplessness that had engulfed me. It was then that I had decided to let go of every movie or series that was ever to be made on the attacks of 26/11. But last year on the 12th anniversary of the attacks, I had decided to face my fear and so I had then watched Hotel Mumbai on Zee5. Although living that day all over again was in itself a nightmare, what the movie did was give me a bit of closure. So when a few months back, I got to know about a new series being made on the attacks of 26/11, I was again curious as it yet again brought back those old memories. And so even though the series was out on thursday 9th September, I had to keep delaying it in order to mentally prepare myself for the series first. This is probably the hardest part of being a reviewer, to keep your own emotions aside and review the content at hand. Now, I have finally finished watching Mumbai Diaries : 26/11 on Amazon Prime. Is it worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
We have seen a bunch of films already that have been made on the attacks of 26/11, Mumbai Diaries focuses on the attacks from the point of view of the hospital(which was also attacked). So here the events unfolding at the Taj(name changed to The Palace in the series) and CST station are secondary plot points while the main action is centered around the Cama Hospital(name changed to Bombay General Hospital in the series). And this sole story brings a fresh perspective to the story. We have seen even during the Covid times when the health and frontline workers have tirelessly served the infected patients even as the count has continued to rise. A similar struggle was witnessed on the fateful night of the attacks when not only did they have to be on their toes with the bodies flowing in but also hold fort during the attacks. And the story is indeed a good one filled with valour and courage to whom we regards as a few of the countless unsung heroes from that night. The screenplay here is engaging right from scene 1 although some part of it may seem as fiction. The slow buildup only plays with your mind for the inevitable and dreaded event. And the plight of the health workers and the pressure under which they had to act is showcased brilliantly. Moreover this is a fitting homage to the countless unknown faces who helped out the city which was under siege. The good part about the screenplay was that it had many characters with unique characterisation which allowed you to be emotionally invested in all of them. And the unpredictable event also made you hope that few of the characters are not bumped off. The screenplay is extremely fast paced post the first episode that you may end of binge watching this. The twists and turns are sure to keep you invested culminating into a bittersweet climax that will gently tug the strings of your heart. Also, the role of the media(which is a bit of a circus now as well as it was then) is shown, something that they may go to any extent to grab the headlines irrespective of the safety of the people around them. This for me was a near perfect screenplay that signified the undying spirit of the individuals and also more importantly showcasing a message that it is ultimate love that triumphs over hatred and religion. If this emotion does not move you, there are little things that would!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are thought provoking and impactful as well as insightful. The soundtrack here is soulful and the BGM is outstanding here. Don’t miss the sound of the machines at the hospital that signify the tension escalating in the premises. The cinematography is outstanding and the production value was amazing. The director’s chair is shared by two individuals – Nikkhil Advani and Nikhil Gonsalves. And the direction is outstanding that has a very balanced narrative. It is a more universal take that they focus on instead of the chest thumping jisgoistic patriotism which could so easily have been prevalent here. This is a huge green tick in the director’s report card!
The performances are astonishingly brilliant! Aishwarya Chaudhary as Disha, Sonali Kulkarni as Mrs. Kelkar, Vasundhara Kaul as Mallika and Princy Sudhakaran as Anju are sparkling in their cameos. From the gunmen, it is Abhinav Ranga as Iqbal and Kunj Anand that standout. Mohini Sharma as Paramjeet is heartfelt and an important catalyst towards the end. Akshar Kothari is excellent as Inspector Mayank. Sandesh Kulkarni as ACP Mahesh Tawde is brilliant. Sonali Sachdev as Shamita is well restrained. Adithi Kalkunthe as Vidya and Balaji Gauri as Cherian are exceptional here. Pushkaraj Chirputkar as Samarth has such a lovely layered character and a character arc and he does full justice to it. Prakash Belawadi as Dr. Mani is phenomenal. The helplessness shown on his face is so evident that you start feeling sorry for him and everyone. Tina Desai as Ananya is outstanding here, quite a conflicted character and extremely well essayed. Shreya Dhanwanthary is one of my favourite actors at the moment. As Mansi, a character you will not like until towards the end where she finds some redemption, she us absolutely ruthless and brilliant. Mishal Raheja as Dr. Sahil has a certain calmness to him as opposes to Dr. Kaushik and this was refreshing to watch, a job well done. Konkona Sen Sharma as Chitra is such a natural onscreen. It is a pleasure watching her every single time. Natasha Bharadwaj as Diya was the find of the series for me. Such a layered and sensitive character and so well portrayed, I really wish to see more of her in the future. Satyajeet Dubey as Ahaan was brilliant. The pain and nervousness on his face was so well portrayed by him that you can’t help but feel his pain yourself. Mrunmayee Deshpande as Sujata was a fire brand here. Tough on the outside but vulberable from the inside and she really sinks her teeth into the character. Mohit Raina as Dr. Kaushik was outstanding in every sense of the word. There were many traits to his character and so well essayed. He is a highly underrated actor but as they say it is hard to keep a talent down for long. Together the bunch showcase an acting masterclass of the highest order!
Mumbai Diaries 26/11 is possibly the best series of 2021(on par with the Family Man 2). It successfully showcases the valour and courage of countless faceless individuals that slowly brought the city back on its feet. As the spirit of Mumbai lives on, that was an event that India will not forget, WE WILL NOT FORGET! Available on Amazon Prime and Highly Recommended!