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Mumbai Diaries: 3 Women Who Hold Up The Sky In This Dramatised Account Of The 26/11 Attack

Mumbai Diaries is a brisk if slightly chaotic dramatisation of the events of 26th November 2008, better known as 26/11, which shook the city of dreams.

Mumbai Diaries is a brisk if slightly chaotic dramatisation of the events of 26th November 2008, better known as 26/11, which shook the city of dreams.

Over the years, I have experienced 2 absolutely different angles when it comes to this harrowing incident. The deeply disturbing account of asli (true blue) Mumbaikars who have lived through the fearful night. And the ones who are visiting Mumbai for the 1st time asking if we can accompany them to Cafe Leopold to see the bullet marks.

The first one is a difficult conversation, but the other brings a smile. A wry smile acknowledging how the world outside sees Mumbai as the ‘strong city’, and the legendary ‘Spirit of Mumbai’.

But that’s what outsiders don’t really get. Despite the numerous issues that only people living in the city realize everyday, there is no other option but to keep going. And that is exactly what happens in the series where they recreate the events of 26th November 2008, better known as 26/11, which shook the city of dreams. When Pakistani insurgents took the financial capital of India hostage.

Mumbai Diaries attempts to show what happened inside the hospital which saw the traumatic night. The city is under attack, our favourite landmarks are desecrated and the Mumbai Police are waging a war to stop the growing massacre. It is intense and needs a pause to absorb the horror. With so much happening, the series brings us 3 strong female characters who are at the frontline, bringing their best in the face of crisis.

The Unbowing Saviour

Chitra, played by Konkona Sensharma

Konkana Sen brings another powerful character to life after Ajeeb Daasthans for the year, Chitra, a social services director in a major Mumbai hospital, whom a colleague fondly describes with unconscious stereotyping as “walking like a man with a plan.”

Konkana’s Chitra believes in doing her duty as a medical professional without letting judgements cloud decisions. When a colleague stands in the way she fiercely argues her stand until she wins. She is dealing with her own internal battles with an abusive spouse, fear of closed spaces, and career challenges. But she is bold in the face of crisis and plays her part. She knows what to say to every person in the ER from the trainee who is struggling with fear to the staff who lost his colleague.

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But the inner sadness of the character surfaces when she hears, “You did well today!” What follows is a thoughtful conversation on how often women are told, “You won’t be able to do it!” And that’s a path so difficult to escape when one loses faith in herself. The monologue that follows presents us with a harsh reality. How often are women held back by family even if they are qualified or talented?!

There is a debatable angle on “Why should only a man have a plan, or how does it matter if she walks like one?” But Chitra has no time to pick up this debate as she is off to deal with critical things!

The Passionate Seeker

Mansi, played by Shreya Dhanwantri

She is young, aggressive and pushing the boundaries to do her job. The hungry for a scoop reporter Mansi, played by Shreya Dhanwantri is out there in the streets covering the terrorist attack.

The character is written to be the textbook version of a media person in the epicentre creating more shocks inadvertently. To a certain extent being self- centred, pushing for her shot at fame at the cost of others’ misery. But if we remove those layers, she is just another professional doing her job.

Mansi moves mountains to get an inside view of what is evolving in the hospital, which shows her dedication. She is battling for her career and risks everything to prove her calibre as a reporter. Her single-minded conviction prevents her from understanding the grave nature of the situation. Only when she becomes part of the inside story, does she realize the crudity in her actions and repents.

The character arc for Mansi is thought-provoking. She goes from being driven to unbearable and finally empathetic. It’s a classic example of the age-old debate on media sensitivity. The need for balance in bringing the news first, and still remaining compassionate. Mansi takes the bull by the horns, but she walks out a different person.

The Unexpected Protector

Ananya, played by Tina Desai

While the 2 central characters are passionately doing their professional duty, there is a third one who goes above and beyond her job. Ananya, played by Tina Desai is asked, “Who puts a woman in charge?” when the series begins. She replies, “This woman will keep you safe”. And she does it- staying true to her word!

Ananya is managing a high-profile event in the Palace Hotel (a representation of the Taj Hotel) when the terrorist attack occurs. She is in charge of the event and the experience of guests. It doesn’t translate to protecting them from an attack, or safe deliverance in the event of one. But as the crisis escalates, she takes a swift call that she can do more than just waiting for rescue. Her bold move is met with hesitation at the beginning, and it’s worthwhile watching what ensues.

Despite multiple warnings, she continues to venture into the terrorist-ridden corridors to rescue more guests in batches. Ananya’s belief in herself takes precedence here when she goes beyond her duty to save people. She brings a humane angle, on going the extra mile in the face of crisis.

A very valid conversation on how women handle crises better than men was lost in the chaos of the plotline. Chitra brings it up and also points out the fact that men don’t accept it.

But it is evident that it needs no discussion after how the 3 central female characters and many more contribute to save the day.

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About the Author

Aarthee Suriyakumar

Electrical engineer turned into Marketer. From heartland of Tamilnadu but almost Mumbaikaar. read more...

16 Posts

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