“Human Is Shefali, Kirti & A Whole Lot Of Unnecessary Complexities “ A Subhash K Jha

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Human(Disney+Hotstar, 10 Episodes)

Starring Shefali Shah, Kirti Kulhari,Vishal Jethwa, Gaurav Dwivedi, Mohan Agashe, Aditya Shrivastava, Atul Kumar, Seema Biswas, Asif Khan

Directed by Mozez Singh, Vipul Shah

My first thought on finishing this partly-excellent wholly-exhausting 10-episode series was, why go to such lengths? What is the need to stretch what can easily be a taut tense compact 5-episoder into ten hours of back-stories for character whom you couldn’t care less about? Just because you have the space, does it mean we have the time?

My second thought on Human was on its leading lady Shefali Shah. Goodness me! She is so in control of her craft. Playing the monstrously complex super-medico Gauri Nath, the actress expresses so much with so little effort. Layer by layer Shefali reveals Gauri’s dark secrets. They(the secrets) are definitely in safe hands.

Alarmingly Shefali is also getting to be selfaware. She KNOWS her capabilities and that’s always dangerous for any actor. She mumbles dialogues like, “What are the lives of the poor worth; even if they die what difference does it make,” with a casualness that is meant to throw us offguard. Shefali knows the exact effect it will have on us.

Kriti on the hand, continues to grow, though I am not sure this over-saddled series allows her to evolve in the right direction. Playing Shefali’s star-struck junior, Kriti’s character Saira Sabharwal’s graph is cluttered with unnecessary complexities. She has Mummy problems(her Mom offers Sara non-vegetarian food when Sarah had turned veg at 15), she has a sexual identity crisis(is she gay, is she straight , is she bi-sexual or just try-sexual ?) and on top of that she sets out to investigate and expose a human guineapig scam in her hospital which threatens her life and career.

I don’t know who is more burdened? Sara or the actress playing Sara.

This is just the beginning of the problem-ridden plot that wants to expose the rot in the medical profession, but instead ends up exposing the rot in the streaming services.

What is the sense of bringing in so many characters that the plot begins to creak, groan and almost collapse , like a roof holding too many refugees during a massive flood. There is a whole continuous subplot about a slumdog Mangu(Vishal Jethwa, over-acting to the point of seeming like a counter-point to Shefali Shah) who brings his humble family to ruination with his overweening ambitions. There is so much melodrama and breastbeating here in Mangu’s story that I wondered if the series was tilting its hat to the cinema of K Dasari Narayan Rao from the 1960s by telling us that the poor should not dream of coming out of their poverty.

The rich, of course can get away with anything. Murder and making over-long serials, included. There is another subplot(yes, one more) which is redeemed by some brilliant acting by Gaurav Dwivedi as an alcoholic doctor, Sandeep Kulkarni as his protective father-in-law and Shruti Bapna as the doc’s supportive wife. Bapna is specially brilliant in her limited space.

There are also some noble social-activists around who get served biryani with crawling creatures when they threaten to expose the human-guineapig racket. Be warned: this series is not for the squeamish; it’s filled with visuals of open hearts, open brains, crawling insects, corpses being autopsied etc…All of these characters are supposed to bring something to the table, though I don’t know what exactly they add to the primary dramatic tension.

If only the net of the conspiracy theory had not been so widely spread, then we would have had to wait till almost the end to see Shefali and Kriti kiss.

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