Sen and Sensitivity: In a conversation with Kankana Sen Sharma

Mayukh Majumder speaks to Kankana Sen Sharma, who has won praise for her courageous performance in the Mumbai Diaries series.

Conkona Sen Sharma’s latest web series, Mumbai Diaries, has garnered admirable reviews on social media and has already become a favorite of critics. The Mumbai Diary deals with the plight of medical professionals during the 26/11 terrorist attacks in the city. In addition to the Taj Palace and Leopold Caf, CAMA Hospital in Mumbai also witnessed the worst of the 26/11 attacks. There was news at the time that doctors and nurses were silently delivering babies when the hospital was flooded by terrorists. Chitra Das, the hospital’s social services director, played the role in the Kankana show. Conkona’s character is a victim of domestic abuse, which almost paralyzes him due to fear and trauma. At the same time, he regularly puts himself in the shoes of his patients and helps them lead happy lives. And then, of course, 26/11 happened and Chitra Das had to get up on this occasion with her colleagues. In this candid interview, Konkana talks about the rise of her character, the attack on doctors in a government hospital, the politicization of the “spirit of Mumbai” and how it happens only in a moment of fear, one can show courage. Some parts.

Tell us a little about your character figure slave?

Chitra Das is the social services director of a hospital. He has a medical background but he is not a doctor. We know that in 26/11, many people went out of their way to help others. He is one of these people. He is also someone who has been dealing with a lot of emotional baggage in the past. And interestingly, what I like about him is that he is someone who is weak and will have to overcome it over time. And he goes through a certain growth where he is able to show extraordinary courage at the end of the season.

The actors say that in the OTT space they can really bite their characters because they have been given enough time to settle down. How does the image develop in the case of the Mumbai Diary? Because the series takes place in a few days.

The image goes from the position of weakness to the position of strength. Those who are brave are actually timid people. It’s a choice to be brave because it’s not a big deal if you’re not scared. But if you are scared and you are weak, and then you go to the position of courage, it requires courage and so does the image. In a show like this, which is over in just a few hours or a few days, there is not much time for character development. I mean, you can show character details etc but it’s not a character drama. It’s almost like a thriller because here the events unfold simultaneously. And that’s the extreme event. So, in a sequel, you usually have space to characterize, enter peripheral characters, and go into more detail but here, because we chose time stamps on everything, it’s a different kind of show. It’s a character-based show, it’s a medical drama where there’s a thriller feeling.

On the show, doctors are working on the victims of terrorist attacks and also on the terrorists responsible for such destruction and devastation.

I think this is a very important thing that Nikhil Advani is saying through the series, the doctors have actually taken an oath and they are supposed to save the lives of all the people at the scene. It is not a matter of looking at a person’s morals, their skin color, their profession, or whether they are criminals. And it will be very difficult for doctors, when they see that the lives of their colleagues and their loved ones have been affected by these terrorists. But, in a broader sense, I would say that doctors in any ER in the world are supposed to respond to people’s lives. They should not be asked what religion you belong to, what is your caste? They ask you what your blood type is and what your allergies are. Other issues to deal with the judiciary. Doctors must save lives. The rest of the court and law and order has to be dealt with.

When Kovid-1st struck, medical professionals were on the front lines, hoping to fight a virus that no one had ever heard of.

I am someone who comes from a very privileged background and has access to the best medical care but that is not the case in most parts of the country. The situation is quite bad in government hospitals, even in big cities like Mumbai. So, you have a lot of crowds, huge lack of beds, lack of medical supplies, equipment and infrastructure and this is very difficult only for those patients who do not have access to first aid. But it is very difficult for doctors to work in this situation and doctors are not gods. We sometimes think of them but they are not gods who can create miracles every day, they need this kind of support to strengthen them. This is something that is very lacking and it is a tragedy – and a reality in this country. Also, on top of that, if you have a situation like 26/11 or the epidemic, it’s so challenging for frontline staff. Our show is also working on that. And you know, even though I survived the 2/11 attacks – I wasn’t in Mumbai but I was in Mumbai at the time – I didn’t really see it from inside any government hospital. And how they worked in such an extraordinary situation… it was a very new subject for me.

Conkona Sen Sharma

Lately, we have also heard that two people of doctors have been attacked by tragic relatives who unfortunately could not save …

You know, that’s why we need to raise awareness of how difficult it is for doctors. They are not geniuses or gods who perform miracles every day and also, they cannot perform in emptiness. They can’t just create magic from thin air. They need to have equipment, they need to have nurses and teams. We need to support the front line staff and first responders so that they are able to do their job.

Conkona Sen Sharma

After every horrific incident that happened in Mumbai, people talk about the “soul of Mumbai”. It is your acceptance.

Okay, you know this is a very convenient thing where something happens and you can expect the consciousness of Mumbai to continue but what do people actually like? If they have to drive home, they have to go to work. And when there’s a crisis, it’s not like people can decide, “Oh, we can’t go on now.” They still have to run their house and put food on the table. So, they really have no choice. I mean, it’s an amazing thing that the day after 26/11, the next day local trains were running and running. It’s crazy and admirable too but I don’t know at any cost. And it shouldn’t be like that, that’s what I’m saying.

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