Konkona Sen Sharma was a must-have in Mumbai Diaries: Nikhil Advani

I wanted season 2 of Mumbai Diaries to be as good as the first one

nikhil_final Nikhil Advani | Supplied

Nikhil Advani of Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway, Rocket Boys 2, Mumbai Diaries 1 and Adhura fame, is currently basking in the glory of positive reviews for the second instalment of Mumbai Diaries, Season 2 of which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. This year, marks the 20th year of Advani as a director, beginning with Kal Ho Na Ho in 2003 and 30 years since he first stepped into the film industry. “I started with Sudhir Mishra, Kundan Shah, and Aziz Mirza in 1993. It has been 30 years and I just feel I was at the right place at the right time." In an interview with THE WEEK, he talks about Mumbai Diaries season 2, and more. 

How different did you want this season to be from the previous one? What did you have in mind? 

I did want it to be different at all; rather, I wanted season 2 of Mumbai Diaries to be as good as the first one. Season 1 was so well received and we got numerous awards and positive reviews too. So, yes the bar was season 1 itself. Of course, in One, the storytelling revolved around terrorism and a siege of the hospital whereas Season 2 deals with water and the floods. The latter had its own requirements, which included shifting it from a disaster-themed show into a drama around medical emergencies.   

What went into the finalisation of the cast for Mumbai Diaries — they are all so apt for the characters they portray... but I'm sure it was not easy to finalise on the names. Tell us the background story as it happened...

Well, Kavish Sinha, who is the casting director of Mumbai Diaries and of a lot of stuff we do at Emmay Entertainment, I think he had a challenge on hand and he aced it. Konkona Sen Sharma was a must-have in the series because I wanted to work with her and Mohit Raina was suggested by Aparna Purohit from Amazon. I loved Prakash Belawadi as an actor in Madras Cafe and Shreya Dhanwantary was superb in Scam 1992. So, these five became sort of pillars of the show and the rest of the cast too, was decided upon after discussions. Also, because Mumbai Diaries as a show is so entrenched in the city of Mumbai, which is a microcosm of diverse communities, the overall cast came from theatre, cinema and became representative of diversity. 

How many succeeding seasons of Mumbai Diaries can we expect in the coming months? 

That question should be asked to Amazon. The show has given me so much love that I fear presenting a season of Mumbai Diaries which might not live up to expectations. So, as long as we get the writing good content and as long as we know that the next one will be as good as seasons 1 and 2, we will keep making it.  

Which western show inspired you to make Mumbai Diaries — there are always some previous works we look at for reference and a better understanding.. which one was it for you? 

I think it was ER, Chicago Hope, and Grey's Anatomy. All medical dramas and everything that Arin Sorkin has ever possibly put pen to paper, I think the energy and confidence his characters bring to the screen is remarkable. I have tried to imbibe that in my characters in Mumbai Diaries too. Whether they are navigating through obstacles or solving problems they do it all with dignity. So I think that is something I find very fascinating.

What's next in your kitty? 

We have almost completed shooting Veda, a feature film with John Abraham and Abhishek Banerjee. We get to start shooting for Freedom at Midnight December onwards.

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