After riding a wave of success in the comedy circuit through his raw, quirky, anecdotal sets, Biswa Kalyan Rath is now set to crack the limited series landscape. His very first venture as a writer, Laakhon Mein Ek, told a compelling story about the rite of passage for every engineering aspirant as they get embroiled into a self-deprecating rat-race that drains them physically and emotionally. Being an IITian himself, the narrative felt deeply personal, probably inspired by experiences that he had been through himself. It is only after entrance results are out when we get to see the “overnight success” that media likes to gloat over. But the actual struggle behind that almost never comes to fore unless a kid with unmanageable pressure on his shoulders decides to give up.
Laakhon Mein Ek 2 has been written by Biswa Kalyan Rath, Vaspar Dandiwala and Karan Agarwal, and directed by Abhishek Sengupta. Season 2 takes a departure from the engineering rat-race and fixes it’s gaze on the plight of Medical Interns who work with government hospitals to gain the mandatory experience required for them to apply for residency. Dr. Shreya Pathare is an aspiring doctor who is still learning the ropes of day to day vagaries of a hospital that are a far cry from the sanitised, idealised affair that we have in our heads. Although she finds things frustrating at times, she urges herself to ride out the remaining three months without incident. As luck would have it, Dr. Gopal Patwardhan, the Chief Medical Officer, assigns her to conduct a Cataract camp in the remote village of Sitlapur, somewhere in rural Maharashtra. Cursing her luck, she gathers her wits and reports at the village govt. clinic. After talking to the acting Medical Officer, she realises that the situation was dire. The Operating room was a damp, web-infested junkyard that hadn’t been used in over a year. The populace didn’t trust the doctors and nurses there, and relied on a quack who held sway. On top of that, the local politicians controlled the medical suppliers who, in turn, harassed the doctors who found it impossible to manage inventory for patients. The CMO, however, couldn’t care less about the challenges on the ground as he was facing political pressure to get the camp conducted no matter what and with a 100% success rate. Dr. Shreya had sunk her teeth into more than she had hoped to chew, and it is only her own gumption that would let her keep her credibility as a doctor intact.
Shweta Tripathi gets into Dr. Shreya’s skin effortlessly and brings in amazing authenticity in the character. From a girl who just wanted to get done with her internship, she takes her assignment in her stride and owns up to the task, standing up to bullying suppliers, demanding politicians, and untrusting villagers. Never does it feel scripted as she interacts with them in an affectionate, patronising tone that is so characteristic to doctors. The show’s biggest appeal also comes through its supporting cast who give measured performances and work extremely well with the rustic atmosphere that the production design team has created.
You may have seen newspaper articles on the deplorable condition of hospitals, on the tragic deaths of patients in clinics due to expired medical supplies, etc. In most of these situations, it becomes very easy and natural for us to deal the full brunt of our blame on the doctors themselves. Laakhon Mein Ek shines the spotlight on the gaping cracks in the system where doctors are victimised as much as the patients they strive to treat. It is, of course, true that there is corruption in the medical profession also but that is a rather harsh generalization to make. Season 2 has proven to be yet another powerful piece of writing and execution. Accompanied by its classic soundtrack by Neel Adhikari that was also signature to the first season, this one is a series to watch out for and we cannot wait for the next season.