Manish Dayal talks about The Resident S4 on FOX (DStv 125)

Behind the Screen

Manish reveals why Dr. Devon is on a quest for justice and equality in public healthcare following his father’s death in The Resident S4 on FOX (DStv 125)

Manish Dayal talks about The Resident S4 on FOX (DStv 125)

Episode 1 of the new season of FOX (DStv 125) medical drama series The Resident played out as a tragedy for Junior Resident Dr. Devon Pravesh (Manish Dayal). This idealistic young doctor lost his beloved father, Tejan (Brian George), who’d helped to put him through medical school by driving a taxi. Tejan was at high risk of infection during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last scene of the episode, we saw Devon on an aeroplane, re-watching his final conversation with his dad, which took place remotely because, like most people who lost their closest family members during the pandemic, he was not allowed to be at his father’s bedside in person.

“It was heart-breaking. When I read that first episode, I couldn't believe the sadness,” says Manish. “The tragedy of the Coronavirus really hits home. But I felt like the story will ultimately unite us, because we are all experiencing this pandemic together, no matter where you are on the globe. Talking about it and spotlighting those who are on the frontline helps us to heal together and it unites us.”

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The Resident S4 will show how Devon’s father’s death will fundamentally change the course of his career as a doctor. In a heart-breaking scene in episode 2, Devon will tell Chastain’s Chief Resident, his mentor Dr. Conrad Hawkins (Matt Czuchry), that his father died alone because the understaffed public hospital that he was sent to in his predominantly black and brown neighbourhood simply did not have the resources to care for him.

“What that storyline ultimately does is to illustrate so many different subjects, ranging from the black and brown disparity of healthcare versus private care, to what Chastain is really about, its dilemmas versus those of a public hospital. We talk about it a lot,” says Manish.

The Resident Dayal 01

A sick system

“What happens in this season is probably the biggest metamorphosis that this character has ever undergone. He loses somebody very close to him, directly related to the work he does day in and day out,” explains Manish. “This will reshape his entire life as a doctor. You'll see that peak in episode 4. His perspective on medicine will change, and he will see the variation in healthcare between a public hospital and a private hospital.”

“The hospital where his father died was a public hospital, and you'll see him drawing on that comparison throughout the first batch of episodes. That ultimately pushes him to practice a level of care that is equal for all people. That is something that is important to him, to treat people the same, regardless of where you come from or your economic background. Everyone deserves the same level of healthcare. That's something that will become a real practice for him going forward.”

“Chastain has an identity that will also change. Everybody is changing in S4. Everybody is becoming something new, something different, something that's evolving into the world that we're in now. You'll see a big metamorphosis in this season for everybody, even the hospital itself. The whole world of Chastain and its doctors embark on a totally new journey together,” Manish hints.

In the same way that Conrad and working at Chastain knocked back Devon’s idealism in S1, we’ll see the realities he faces now come as a bit of a slap in the face for him. Deaths like his father have nothing to do with carelessness. In fact, they’re almost guaranteed under public hospital constraints.

“What he'll realise is that public hospitals operate very differently. You don’t get to spend as much time with patients as you otherwise would. You have more patients. You have less time. And with more patients and less time, your level of care drastically drops,” Manish warns. “For Devon, he's fighting that balance. He doesn’t want to take away time from patients who ultimately need it and give it to those who don't. That's not something that he is interested in. So he is going to have to really figure out how to manage that. How to be the same doctor he is, in an environment that challenges that.”

The Resident S4 has also been an eye-opener for Manish as a performer. “I learnt a lot this season. The level of care between a public hospital and a private hospital can be a matter of life and death. I never saw it as clear as I do now,” he insists. “One wrong decision, not enough time, being rushed, can literally mean someone's life. That's an important and serious consequence. If somebody dies, imagine the effect that has on so many people, the community around you – all based on a hospital's politics and rules. It's so nuanced.”

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A matter of life or death… on set

While playing out the drama and tragedy of the pandemic on screen, The Resident’s cast had to adjust to a new way of shooting. “Shooting in a pandemic has been challenging because it's the first time we've ever done it, so we're learning every day. We're being tested for the virus 3 times a week, there are some strict protocols being implemented across all shows. For us, we are in PPE (personal protective equipment) all the time. The only time we're not, is when we are shooting. The crew are in PPE and face masks. Everything is constantly being sterilised. We are doing our best to take care of each other, both at work and out of work. It's an ever-evolving situation. Everyone is keenly aware of it, and it's helping because early on, before we started work, they brought on some specialists to help us and give us the knowledge and tools that we would need coming to work every day,” says Manish.

The Resident PPE

Fun fact: In March 2020, The Resident’s production team donated their unused PPE gear to real-life healthcare workers at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, including gowns, masks, gloves – when they were in desperately short supply.

Watch The Resident S4 Tuesdays at 20:45 on FOX (DStv 125) and on Catch Up

FOX is available on DStv’s Premium, Compact Plus and Compact packages. To upgrade your account or to get DStv, click here.

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