Medicine and Movies Nov30

Medicine and Movies

“Medicine and movies ?”, you may well ask. The traditional stereotype of a doctor is one of a nerdy individual with thick soda glasses who is far removed from anything that Vidya Balan may refer to as “ Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment !” Boring, bookish and bland. None of the doctors I know come even close to this cliché. Some are singers, yet others are classical dancers; some are smart and sassy and still others are downright funny. So who creates these stereotypes ? Is there peer pressure to fulfil them ? I still remember my father giving one of my senior medical colleagues the once over and declaring with a disdainful sniff “ He doesn’t even LOOK like a doctor “. Doctors have to look, dress and behave in a prescribed manner ? Doctors are like regular people – they practice medicine and deal with ill people. But as human beings they are not from another planet.I thought I would have a look at doctors and the practice of medicine in movies and see if these stereotypes arose from cinema which usually gets blamed for all society’s ills. A lot of medicine in movies is poorly researched and superficial. Jargon and myths abound. Social beliefs and misconceptions are reinforced. New diseases are trivialized or demonized. One bout of projectile vomiting and the nubile young lass is pregnant. Diagnosed with alacrity by the village dai who perfunctorily measures her pulse. The said young lady climbs a stool to reach an object, and a miscarriage is waiting round the corner. A drizzle begins and labour will proceed among torrential rains to climax in the lusty wails of an Apgar score 2 infant. Sex is never mentioned in the good Indian movie. Children arrive on the scene because the heroine falls in icy cold water and the hero finds no other way to warm the hypothermic young lady ( Refer : Aa Gale Lag Ja with Sharmila Tagore and Shashi Kapoor or Roop Tera Mastan in Aradhana). The Mahesh Bhatt school of unbridled passion and Ekta Kapoor’s rare case of Love, Sex Aur Dhokha is a recent advance in the Journal of Movie Medicine Vol 420, pg. 1- 69. Diseases are either generic like the ubiquitous “ blood cancer “ or become super specific like “ lymphosarcoma of the intestine “ which was immortalized by Rajesh Khanna in Anand. Frank Capra’s famous observation” Tragedy is not when the actor cries; tragedy is when the audience cries ,” perfectly fits Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand that milks a terminally ill patient’s story for every tear in the lacrimal gland. . It is a film that keeps its protagonists dry-eyed but makes the stoniest member of the audience blink with emotion. Disease has been used to give a character colour, content , motivation or meaning. Sanjay Leela Bhansali exploring a blind –mute character in Blackor a paraplegic’s dilemma in Guzaarish are two recent examples. Asperger’s syndrome helped to create My Name Is Khan and dyslexia made a quiet entry into the Indian living room with Taare Zameen Par as did progeria with Pa. International Cinema has been doing this successfully for years. Daniel Day Lewis used just his Left Foot to bring cerebral palsy worldwide attention. Way back in 1967 Satyen Bose showcased schizophrenia in Raat Aur Din with Nargis Dutt’s award winning performance as Varuna/ Peggy. Shankar carried this to melodramatic heights with Anniyan where the multiple personalities even get their hair permed and straightened in seconds. NIMHANS figures in this movie and depends on the psychiatrist for diagnosis and unravelling of mystery.   Doctors are usually portrayed as kind, caring, quiet, morose or intellectual individuals. Way back in 1946 V. Shantaram portrayed the story of a doctor who travelled to China in Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani based on Khwaja Ahmad Abbas ‘ story ‘And One Did Not Come Back’. The hospital has eerie...

Monthly Investments

There once lived a man in ancient Babylon. He was the richest man in the city. His friends used to wonder how he became so rich while they stayed poor, having started out at the same place at the same time. They decided to ask him the secret of his riches. The richest man in Babylon then shared his big secrets with his friends. His first secret was a lesson he learnt at a very young age from a wealthy merchant. He said, the merchant asked me how many coins are there in my pocket on pay day. I said ten. Then he asked, what remains at the end of the month. I said none. He told me to keep one coin in my pocket and live on the rest nine. I did so for a year. At the end of the year I realised I could live on nine coins and without any pain. I had managed to make my purse full of twelve coins, when earlier it used to be empty. That was my first lesson and I have not forgotten it as I learnt more lessons about money in my life. The same story can work for you too. It pays to save and invest your money wisely as early as possible. Let us look at some simple numbers and how they can change your life for better. Say you are about in the 25-30 year age group. You are more likely to be at the beginning of your career. Earning cycles are at the lower end. It will be a few years before you will actually see higher income levels. So does that mean you wait till you can actually earn enough to have a so called decent surplus? Like...