Director: Sattwik Mohanty, Saqib Pandor, Preya Hirji
Cast: Tanaya Sachdeva, Neha Hinge, Srishti Rindani, Ashmita Jaggi, Pulkit Makol, Siddharth Menon, Ayush Shrivastav, Punit J Pathak, Rahul Dev, Ishaan A Khanna
Streaming Platform: Zee5, ALT Balaji
The language and structure of Love, Scandal And Doctors is familiar. The title itself, LSD, is a reminder of Dibakar Banerjee’s 2010 anti-DDLJ film that expanded as Love, Sex Aur Dhokha. Ekta Kapoor was one of its producers.
Here, LSD expands differently, less sexually. There is a bit of Grey’s Anatomy here—a bunch of interns at the hospital at that cusp between college and medical residency; competition and cuddles. This sets up the language of the show, with medical metaphors, and forced references to disease, where a boxing ring fight pauses to label the bones being broken (clavicle, femur, etc.). But the structure of Love, Scandal And Doctors is closer to the first season of How To Get Away With Murder, where both begin with a murder, spend half the season building up to it through flashbacks, and spend the other half, unraveling the post-murder investigation and fraying of the mind.
I am not going to labour this point more; the comparisons stop here because there is not much space for grey here, something both of the above Shonda Rhimes shows reveled in. The 14-part series isn’t by any stretch good television, but it certainly makes for a compelling watch. The ALTBalaji-isms, so to speak, are all here—threadbare characters with clunky, swag syruppy dialogues, the clammy inclusion of masculine entitlement, monologue feminism, tragic queerness, and the twisted beyond logic and repair plotline. (“Full 1990s Baazigar movie type vibes. Twist par twist, bhenchod,” as one character lovingly puts it.) For good measure, there is also childhood trauma. It’s not interested in creating an immersive world of the grueling medical internship experience, but it’s merely interested in making that a vague backdrop. The point is the chaos, the investigation, the quotable coolness. (One of the characters rhymes her seductions, “No if, no but, know that I am your slut,” right after calling the lover their “sukoon”, who gives them “ghar wali feelings”.) And what works best in the midst of all the chaos is the series doesn’t lose sight of its original question—the quest for the murderer.
The ALTBalaji-isms, so to speak, are all here—threadbare characters with clunky, swag syruppy dialogues, the clammy inclusion of masculine entitlement, monologue feminism, tragic queerness, and the twisted beyond logic and repair plotline.
The interns are the ‘Mumbai-chi-mulgi’, oversmart Sara (Tanaya Sachdeva), the conservative Rahima (Srishti Rindani), the effeminate and aloof Kabir (Ayush Shrivastav), the privileged topper Kartik (Ishaan A Khanna), and his mercurial side-kick Vikramjeet (Siddharth Menon). They are all under the charge of Chitra (Neha Hinge), who is also Kartik’s sister. Both Kartik and Chitra are the children of the dean, Dr. Rana (Rahul Dev). The wave of nepotism cascades down, and each of these characters find love among one another, their circuitous affairs crossing the borders of workplace propriety. They are a collective nightmare for the hospital HR.
The murder is of Rahima’s abusive husband Asif (Pulkit Makol). Everyone has intent to murder, and not just because he is an awful human being, but because he has dirt on each of the interns that could derail their life. He’s called “toxic cancer”, who spreads through the network of friends and workplace colleagues till everyone just wants to excise him. The investigation is led by Tavish Singh (Punit J Pathak), who in full Delhi Police fashion works entirely based on conjecture, conspiracy, and cold calls.
The 14 episodes are a bit of a drag at points. After a point because as a viewer you are clued into the twisty writing, if someone is suspected of being the murderer in Episode 9, you know within an episode the theory will be turned on its head. As with friendships and fights—they are as fickle as they are sticky. The relationships bare no erotic resemblance to some of the ALT priors. I hope the complaints of bad sex has not let them to cut off sex entirely, as opposed to investigate what good sex looks and lights like.
The worst offender in this series, however, is its ending which just comes and goes, with no narrative catharsis. It is perhaps a sign of the series itself not taking its characters seriously, to just leave them hanging dry in the lurch without any closed knots, and a shabbily written suicide, as if just to dispose them off. If the writers themselves don’t take their creations seriously, why should we?