Some characters from movies are much more than just their screen presence. Here are five such amazing and inspiring doctors in Hindi Cinema who showed what it takes to follow the Hippocratic oath. Which character is your favourite?
Hippocrates might be wondering whatever happened to the profession that he had founded and the oath that he had ordained be administered to the professionals who entered into the field. Indeed, the profession has become much-maligned as the commercial interests now supposedly take precedence over the well-being of the patient. When Robin Cook had written his famous book Medicine – a work of fiction – he had given a graphic portrayal of the way the situation could gravitate to. Unfortunately it has done just that, but one need not despair, as on the eve of World Health Day we underline how this profession still is one of the noblest that can be pursued, through the narrative of successful doctors in the history of Hindi cinema.
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It is the first film that comes to mind as it is a heady concoction of professional commitment, interspersed with nationalist fervor. The character of Dr. Kotnis, played by V. Shantaram, indeed is a shining example of the way a doctor should execute his job. He had gone to China to treat plague but succumbed to it ultimately.
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Amitabh Bachchan may have enacted scores of roles in his towering career, but the role of a doctor that he enacted in this iconic film directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee continues to be the high point of his acting career. Here is a doctor who when not able to find a cure for his friend in the medicine system he practices, ventures out to find the cure in alternate systems, underlining the fact that the relationship between a patient and a doctor is laid on the foundation of faith, hope and fervor. There still would be scores of ‘Anands’ still practicing the same way as Anand did in Anand, and it is because of these ‘Anands’ that the faith in the system, though shaken, has still not been obliterated.
3. Ek Doctor Ki Maut
If one wishes to understand why brilliant doctors migrate to greener pastures, this is the film that one needs to watch. Here is a doctor who, at a young age, discovers a medicine that has the potential to treat a chronic disease, and he is rewarded for this discovery as well – although internationally. The bureaucratic system strikes back at him and posts him to a remote village and the irony of the situation is that ultimately his discovery is attributed to some other doctors in the USA. Directed by Tapan Sinha, this film underlines the many trials and tribulations a doctor faces if he or she wishes to work within the system, and how it drives the doctor either to insanity or to a different country.
When one talks of the medical profession, the talk would be incomplete if the role of nurses is not factored into the story, and who would be better qualified than Waheeda Rehman to be featured with prominence here? Her role of nurse underlined the human side of the profession. That a nurse also has emotions and she can also fall in love was brought out beautifully in the subtle and sublime manner in which her role was etched out, and that is a feat that has not been emulated again.
5. Munna Bhai MBBS
In a humorous way, Raj Kumar Hirani was able to highlight why doctors should adhere to the Hippocratic oath and believe in the world of miracles when all else fails, and it was primarily owing to this reason that Munnabhai MBBS was such a huge success. It also questioned the sanitized and enclosed environment that the patient is pushed into, and advocated extending to him a normal terrain that would mitigate his problems to a certain extent and, even though he might be dying, let him enjoy the last moments of his life.
There is no doubt that doctors live under constant stress. But the moot point is that even though the system may turn hostile, one should never forget the oath. One could perhaps seek inspiration from the character played by Harrison Ford in The Fugitive who, in spite of all kinds of professional losses, never failed to believe in humanity, manifest especially in the scene where he prescribes medication for a badly wounded child even though he is at the hospital to settle scores with his enemy.