Season two of Biswa Kalyan Rath’s web series Laakhon Mein Ek moves from examining elite entrance examination institutes to the state of healthcare in rural India.
“In India, a kid is offered two choices between engineering and medical,” Rath told Scroll.in about the shift in focus. “As we had covered the engineering part we wanted to move on and the next choice seemed to be medical.”
Released on Amazon Prime Video on April 12, the new season follows zealous doctor Shreya Pathare (Shweta Tripathi) trying to conduct a cataract camp in the fictional village of Sitlapur in Maharashtra. Shreya’s righteousness clashes with institutionalised corruption, lethargy of the government and ignorance among the villagers.
Abhishek Sengupta has returned to direct the second season. The supporting cast includes Yashwant Wasnik, Chandrashekhar Dutta, Ketki Narayana, Pravina Deshpande, Arun Nalavade, Ramakant Dayama and Aryan. Rath plays a supporting character too.
“The meaning [of the series’s name] still remains the same,” Rath said. “It’s the journey of a character from being one amongst a million to one in a million. Laakhon Mein Ek is the story of ordinary characters facing extraordinary odds. So we will try to keep the vision the same for the near future.”
The first season’s protagonist, Aakash Gupta (Ritvik Sahore), was a creatively inclined student struggling to fit in with the rigidity of an educational institute churning out geniuses on an assembly line.
The new season banked heavily on research, Rath said, adding that his job was to maintain the theme and tone even though the storyline changed. Rath’s co-writers are Abhishek Sengupta and lyricist Hussain Haidry. To help the trio get their female protagonist right, screenwriter Anuraadha Tewari (Fashion, Heroine) served as a script consultant.
What did the research on healthcare in rural India throw up? “There is not enough budget per capita allocated to medical infrastructure,” Rath said. “We also have very few doctors per capita. Although the situation is improving in the last decade.”
Rath, who started off as a standup comedian, is one of the few from the field to have made it as a writer of web series.
“My storytelling inspiration would be writers rather than comedians,” Rath said. “I love George RR Martin and Stephen King. Mike Birbiglia and John Mullaney are great comedian storytellers also.” And what about another standup special? “As soon as I am done writing it,” Rath promised.