Biswa Kalyan Rath, the standup comic man, has come a long way. A man, originally famous for his acerbic brand of comedy, ‘Laakhon Mein Ek’ is the perfect antithesis to his style. The season one showcased the desperation and the rat race of IIT aspiring students in a Kota-like training centre. Biswa, himself being an ex-IITian, brought authenticity to the premise as he explored the dark side of the cutthroat business that education has become today. With season two, he goes one step ahead as he takes us through the constantly decaying medical services of the country and eventually, how it affects the commoners. In eight sharply written episodes, it becomes evident that more than the rampant corruption, it’s the general apathy towards the patients that has led to this situation.
It begins on an ominous note, as we see a group of doctors appearing in front of an inquiry panel for a botched up cataract camp held in a rural region. The discussion veers towards a certain junior doctor Shreya Pathare as we go back sixty days before the events that led to this catastrophe. We meet the inhabitants of the district government hospital, the resident doctors, the chief medical officer, the senior doctor who is revered by everyone including the idealistic Shreya. A run-in with the local opposition leader Raja Babu puts Shreya into a spot as she reluctantly takes the order to hold a cataract camp in a quaint nearby village Sitalapur. After the initial few skirmishes, the villagers including the nurses and ward boys warm up to this feisty, young doctor. At the background, we see a constant struggle between the political overlords and administration for the ever emerging need of medical supplies. Eventually, the two worlds collide, taking everything with them, into a giant downward spiral.
Phenomenal, that’s the word that comes to mind to describe the quality of the writing. The content is well researched and to be honest, the corruption in the medical industry is something that everyone has either seen or experienced first hand. So it’s quite relatable as well. But what takes the show to the upper echelons, are the minute details, the small touches that make it look so authentic. The junior doctor’s struggle, the tendency to avoid the rural area duties, the public apathy towards the government allocated medical services, the unfriendly staff the these are something that has been clearly inspired from real life incidents. The writer trio Biswa Kalyan Rath, Abhishek Sengupta (also the director of this season) and Hussain Haidry paint the not-so-rosy picture of a corrupt system, which exposes some really inconvenient truth about it. The eventual catastrophe that mirrors the tragedy at the Gorakhpur hospital in 2017 and in particular the harrowing experiences of Dr Kafeel Khan, on which Dr Shreya’s character has been based on, tells us the story of a society where morally scrupulous politicians play the game of dice with doctors and medical suppliers in tandem.
Shweta Tripathi Sharma is a fine actor and she again proves her mettle in a role that demands credibility. Playing a doctor whose conscience is in the right place, she evolves into a different person altogether whose righteousness is crushed under the enormous weight of corruption. The ensemble cast is terrific with Sandeep Mehta as CMO, Pravina Deshpande as the senior doctor and Shreya’s mentor, Arun Nalawade as the hapless medical supplier, Rupesh Tillu as the corrupt ward boy and Suyash Joshi as Raja Babu. Biswa himself plays a cameo of a news-hungry journo. The series also highlights the dying art of ‘Chitrakathi’ which is essentially the craft of storytelling along with aid of ‘Chitra’ or pictures, in the form of a ‘Pothi’ i.e. a picture book. The artists are a migrating tribe of people, currently at the point of extinction, without the necessary government support. The story has a couple of segments where the Chitrakathi artists perform. It’s truly mesmerizing.
Today, when there are hordes of web series, being churned out at the rate of rug rats, most of which screams mediocrity in the name of the content, ‘Laakhon Mein Ek’ Season 2 stands tall with its well-researched material, splendid writing and equally brilliant acting. Indeed, Mr Biswa Kalyan Rath, the creator, has really come a long way!
‘Laakhon Mein Ek’: Season 2, now streaming on Amazon Prime.
The Cinemawala Rating: 3.5/5