Dhadkan Zindaggi Kii, Sony TV’s medical drama launched on 6th December 2021, makes for very interesting TV in terms of all things important: the pacing of the story, an impressively authentic hospital setting and top-notch acting. The show has set up a high benchmark for itself after delivering action-packed episodes one after another in its first week. Although a few cracks do seem to appear in the storytelling after the perfectly crafted first two episodes, DZK can arguably be termed the most promising show on TV currently.
The show revolves around Dr Deepika Sinha, a disgraced senior doctor, who is rumoured to have caused the death of a patient on her operating table. Thanks to the goodwill of her mentor, whose trust in his pupil is unshaken, she lands a job in Ferdoon Mehrzaad Sherrier hospital as a senior surgeon. The story is currently focusing on her struggle to clear her name and establish herself despite malicious hospital management and an uncooperative team of junior interns that she is supposed to lead.
The show, above all, aims to make a statement against the gender bias against women, not just in the medical profession but in all areas of life. Social commentary is woven subtly in the story against all kinds of issues women face in regular life: the pressure of a working woman to prove she is a good mother, pressure of losing weight before marriage, pressure of proving your worth as a woman in a male-dominated scenario etc. The show successful demonstrates, sometimes through the challenges faced by the protagonist, and other times by the patients and their families who come in for treatment, that women struggle everywhere owing to their gender: age, class, education notwithstanding.
The internal, as well as the external conflict of Dr Sinha, has been firmly established in these first few episodes. Internally she is fighting the ghost of her guilt that germinated when she was blamed for a patient’s death, and externally it is in the form of her strong-willed, ambitious and overtly emotional under-signee, Dr Abhay Sathe. Abhay wears his heart on his blue sleeves but is plagued by prejudices against his new boss, thanks to his own troubled past and the bits & pieces of news he has heard about Sinha. I find the equation between Sinha and Sathe the main draw of the show. Portrayed brilliantly by Additi Gupta and Vidyut Xavier respectively, these two characters bring the opposite sides of the spectrum of the medical profession, without extolling or underplaying either. While Deepika keeps her cool and approaches situations practically, Abhay struggles with his emotional attachment to patients.
However, the story reveals another facet when she makes a striking exception and strays majorly away from her professional boundaries by operating on Abhay’s mother without either his consent or her senior doctor’s approval. That one decision gives a surprising insight into Deepika’s character: she has what it takes to win against her fears(she had been repeatedly blamed for going against her senior doctor’s advice in her last case which resulted in death) and against the management or opposition. From that point on, Dr Deepika Sathe’s emotional connection with her patients is revealed, even if it is much subtler than Abhay’s. But a series of circumstances and incidents one after another has managed to create a chasm between the two protagonists, with a potential of developing into one of the most interesting tracks of the show.
After two episodes of air-tight scripting, the show seems to start to drag here and there but has managed to recover pace quickly as of now. Sometimes the conversations between patient-doctor seem unrealistic, stretched out and overtly sentimental. Sometimes the story seems unfavourably tilted in favour of the protagonist at the cost of other characters. It is understandable as the show is after all about Dr Deepika Sinha, but giving the other characters a few moments to shine won’t take away anything. For example when Razina, overwhelmed at her impending amputation, is about to jump off the roof needs someone who she trusts, as her rescuer, the built-up signals towards Abhay being that saviour. He has an emotional connection with her and has been fighting to save her hand. But instead, he stands as a witness while Dr Deepika swoops in and gets to be the hero. which, at that point and time in the story, seems unfair and unsupported.
A major let-down is how Deepika’s innocence in her infamous case is revealed. It is a major plot point in the story but the reveal is rather unceremonious, incongruous and unnoticed. A nurse at Sinha’s erstwhile hospital who is very happy to provide the notes to Abhay incriminating Sinha a few hours ago is suddenly overcome with guilt and confesses that she always knew Sinha was innocent and the notes were written by someone else. This major uncovering is done by a minor character who has two scenes and no motivation for the sudden change of heart.
The show deals with many guest actors as the doctors at FMS hospital face new cases every day and the medical research behind the script looks very convincing. The actors seem like they have done their homework and pass very well as experienced medical professionals who know what they are talking about. The comic relief is provided by the two junior interns, Peroz and Ansari, who treat patients with weird or non-serious complaints. The animosity between an uncouth Ansari who feels like an outsider because of his poor background, and the rest of the interns: Sathe, Advani, Sathe’s girlfriend and Peroz, Sathe’s best friend is engaging but does not allude to be unusually sour or deep.
Things are just beginning to get intense as the show completes a week when a young patient dies after surgery with Deepika not able to find out what caused the whole problem. We start seeing how is she is not as detached as she would like Abhay and the team to believe.
This is certainly a show that is right at the top of the current Indian shows on the basis of engaging drama, great performances and layered scripting. The past plays a major role in the present but luckily not everything is revealed in a linear fashion. We discover it in bits and parts. Definitely worth a watch as much for the story as for the praiseworthy performances from the cast, especially by Additi Gupta & Vidyut Xavier. Also not to miss the ostensible nod to India’s diversity by creating characters that belong to all majority and minority groups in India.
Watch this space to see how it progresses!