Human review: Medical thriller that struggles to take off

Rating: 2.5/5

Human is a medical drama series that showcases the darker side of the medical fraternity muddied by corruption and politics with the fate of dozens of impoverished people thrown into the middle. The series is now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.

Story

Dr Saira Sabharwal (Kirti Kulhari) is a cardiac surgeon who has accepted a job in her home city of Bhopal full of hope and positivity but the more time passes, the more she begins to realize the ills of being a doctor that aren’t often shown to the public.

At the head of it all is Dr Gauri Nath (Shefali Shah), a visionary neurosurgeon with a troubled past who allows her ambition to lead her to the absolute depths of humanity as she manipulates every person and every situation that she is faced with.

Along with the support of her husband and fellow co-conspirators in high positions, they have been conducting early drug trials in the slums of Bhopal taking advantage of the poor and the marginalised community.

Mangu (Vishal Jethwa) is one such youth from those slums who’s willing to go to any lengths to provide for his family, which unfortunately sends him down a path that ends with the death of his mother and a lot of misery and misfortune.

Saira struggles with her moral compass while also dealing with an identity crisis as she tries to get to the bottom of this drug trial conspiracy and blow the whistle on those involved.

On the one side lies all the people on the lower rungs of society who want justice for all that they’ve been through and on the other are society’s elite who care mainly about lining their own pockets above all else.

Performances

Shefali Shah is one of the bright lights among a dearth of mediocre performances. The way she plays the role of a sociopath that uses her intricate knowledge of the brain to influence all those around her is chilling. The way she begins to lose the plot as soon she loses control over everything is displayed well.

Kirti Kulhari’s performance feels rather uneven as she struggles to maintain a consistent level throughout the series, going overboard at times while underdelivering at other moments.

Her character work stands out whenever she has to showcase her denial of her sexuality but apart from that she doesn’t impress.

Vishal Jethwa captures the essence of a simple boy from slums who is ready to do anything out of desperation perfectly, showing off his understanding of the emotion required to play such a role.

Ram Kapoor, Indraneil Sengupta, Seema Biswas and several others of the supporting cast give in good performances but they never manage to elevate the quality of the product.

Positives

The initial concept of showing the divide between the ambitions of big pharmaceutical companies and the lives of the people struggling to survive is indeed a good one.

It’s a depressing topic with a lot of weight behind it and yet giving it a platform would end up being beneficial for a lot of people to understand more about this reality that we live in.

Negatives

The entire plot feels muddled without a clear direction in mind. There are far too many moving parts involved and not all of them are sufficiently established well.

Even the ending is rushed with the strange decision for Gauri to murder Saira and then kill herself, which is probably done for shock value but ultimately falls flat and is unappreciative. The real villain goes out on her terms and does not get the deserved comeuppance the audience would have wanted.

The subject of trauma is quite prominent but it is not at all handled sensitively and is rather used as a tool to add grit to the story which leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Even the moments of abuse are shown merely for shock value and are certainly ill-advised at a time when there is so much misery in the real world.

Worth it?

Human is a series with a promising concept but requires a suspension of belief to get through the entire run of episodes that are barely held together. Apart from a promising performance by Shefali Shah and a few good moments, Human fails to engage the audience and is quite a disappointment.


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