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Human review: Shefali Shah's demonic performance, Kirti Kulhari's subtlety stand out in this exhausting series

The 10-episode series might tire and disturb you owing to the reality happening around you.

  • Aishwarya Vasudevan

  • OTTplay

Last Updated: 10.05 AM, Jan 19, 2022

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Human is a gripping emotional thriller set in the shadowy world of human drug testing. Vayu Pharma, an Indian pharmaceutical business, is desperate to develop the next money-making drug, so they begin testing a forbidden drug on hordes of poor people who willingly sign up for drug trials in exchange for a tiny monetary reward. However, the medicine begins to produce terrible side effects in patients, particularly in the household of Mangu (Vishal Jethwa), a street-smart slum youngster.

Dr Saira Sabharwal (Kirti Kulhari), a fresh junior heart surgeon, enters Manthan, Bhopal's renowned multi-speciality hospital, only to be humiliated by the older male doctors, who are uncomfortable with her intelligence and enthusiasm. While this causes problems in her work life, it also causes problems in her personal life. She has a strained relationship with her parents, a peculiar and unconventional marriage, and she is a habitual liar with a dark secret of her own.

Dr Gauri Nath (Shefali Shah), Manthan's energetic and renowned owner and one of India's finest neurosurgeons, has hired Saira. But as she gets closer to Gauri, their relationship becomes more tangled and heated. Gauri, too, has secrets of her own, and their connection quickly becomes tainted with lies. Gauri's ultimate goal is to free the world and herself from trauma, no matter what it takes.

Human becomes that rare drama that weaves together a story of class, love, loss, betrayal, ambition, truth, justice, and revenge in a way never seen before, as the lives of Mangu, Saira, and Gauri clash on a nerve-wracking and terrible emotional ride.


Sometimes, it's not easy to define a character or, for that matter, a series, and put them in a box; Hotstar Specials' Human falls under that category. The series, featuring Shefali Shah and Kirti Kulhari in the lead roles, is driven by both the actors, who carry it effortlessly on their shoulders. The medical thriller genre is very little explored in the Indian OTT space compared to other topics which have been fictionalised well. Moreover, a series of drug trials on humans is scary enough to think about, and it was indeed disturbing to watch too.

Human begins with a glimpse of testing conducted on guinea pigs, and they die instantly. It's a metaphor for what's in store for the humans in the series. Then we see Manthan, a multispecialty hospital where Dr Saira Sabharwal (Kirti Kulhari) joins as a junior heart surgeon. However, nearly till the end of the episode, Dr Gauri Nath (Shefali Shah) is not shown, and finally, she makes a grand entry like a diva.

However, that diva-ness is just limited to her public persona, and her reality is something that will leave you shocked. Every episode revolves around her doings and shows the ugly side of the medical world. The series creates several subplots around her character, and it's like if someone is breathing fire in another part of the world, Gauri has a connection to it. However, her intentions purely come from the traumatic childhood experience she faced with her foster family.

We have seen such layered and complex characters earlier on OTT too, mainly with Vivek Oberoi's role in the Inside Edge series. The latest season showed why that man is sadistic owing to his past experiences. Shefali's character is quite similar in that there's no limit to the extent she goes and what she becomes eventually.

However, the actor stands out with her impeccable performance, but it seems like even she couldn't define what to make of her character. All we can say is that she is a sociopath who has no heart and only plans and plots from her brain (citing her profession as a neurosurgeon).

But spanning over the 10 episodes, the series then gets exhausting and hints at the same by the time you complete the second episode. Every episode ends with a different track being focused on, only to bring all of them together in the penultimate and series finale.

The other lead actor, Kirti, is impressive as she doesn't have many secrets in comparison with Shefali, which will make it difficult for the audience to keep up with her. The actor, being a slightly less dark shade of a character, brings little light to the series, which becomes difficult to watch owing to the external environment we are going through.

Her character as a cardiac surgeon hints at her being an emotional one who thinks from her heart and for other people. But like a heart, she is indecisive when it comes to her issues being brought in front of the world.

The screenplay by Mozes Singh and Ishaani Banerjee has given Shefali dialogues that are too hard to digest and describe her character dangerously. There's a whole monologue about how there's no value in poor people's lives, so they deserve to go through the heinous drug trials.

There's one such plot about a bunch of young women being tested to help erase their trauma, and that track is also something that was just there forcefully to create more complexities in the series.

The other important characters, such as Vishal Jethwa, who is straight out of Mardaani 2's look, but he is a positive character here. The actor has done a fab job as a victim of the drug trial who faces the wrath of his greediness by making his parents go through it for a few bucks.

To be honest, even Seema Biswas as the sadistic Romi Ma will not leave you surprised, because the actor has proved her mettle in such characters before.

The other actors, such as Ram Kapoor, well, the actor deserves more, knowing his acting prowess.

The series is directed by Mozes and Vipul Amrutlal Shah (also the producer), and kudos to them for bringing about a well-researched concept. But it just doesn't work much to make it far more twisted than needed.

It also touches upon other concepts like ignorant parents, how the LGBTQ community is still awaiting acceptance from their near and dear ones, and also the victims and survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

Human is a series that can be easily defined as too many cooks spoiling the broth. Too many plots just couldn't make the show as meaty and intriguing as its makers must have foreseen.


Human is dark, twisted, and complex. Maybe this is not the right time to give this series a watch. Not just because of the coronavirus pandemic growing outside, but also because of the exhausting 400+ minute series with 10 episodes of nearly 45 minutes each.

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