Quantum Leap

Why doctors have a problem with 'Gabbar'

The Indian Medical Association wants a particular sequence shown in the Akshay Kumar-starrer censored.

 |  Quantum Leap  |  2-minute read |   12-05-2015
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The Indian Medical Association (IMA) – the trade union of doctors – is upset over a particular sequence shown in Akshay Kumar-starrer Gabbar is Back and wants it censored. It has circulated the “offensive” clip among its members and has asked them to boycott this and other movies of Akshay as well as producer Sanjay Leela Bhansali. I have seen the clip in which doctors at a corporate hospital are seen indulging in unethical and fraudulent practices. Akshay Kumar rushes to a hospital with a person on a stretcher – who is already dead – and requests doctors to save his life. Doctors examine the person and find him to be dead but still they start “treatment” and make Akshay Kumar pay up two lakh rupees for the services of a specialist. After several hours of this drama, doctors inform him the patient could not be saved.

Though this sequence may appear exaggerated, it is bound to ring a bell in the minds of people. We hear stories of how hospitals keep clinically dead people “alive” on ventilators – either to make money or under pressure of family members. The practice of ordering costly medicines and disposables from hospital pharmacy, as shown in the movie, is too common. Real life testimonies of doctors and patients about corruption in medical profession in Aamir Khan’s television show, Satyamev Jayate were bone chilling.

Many television channels have recently done sting operations on pathological labs and diagnostic centres to expose widely prevalent "cut" system. The commission system has been exposed by doctor whistle-blowers themselves in a recently published monograph titled “Voices of Conscience from the Medical Profession” in which 78 doctors have shared their personal experiences. Some of them had to shut their practice because they refused to yield to corrupt lobbies.

By demanding a ban on such shows or movies, IMA is shying away from the real issue and missing the larger picture. If the association is really concerned about the image of doctors and medical profession, it should stop living in denial. Let’s first accept that there is a serious problem, identify and name the black sheep and then take action against them. No point in just blaming reel life depiction of medical profession. After all, movies are a reflection of the society. In 1960s-70s, Indian movies typically had a family doctor who was held in high esteem and was friendly.

Even hospitals had sociable staff and service environment. Doctor-patient relationship was based on honesty and faith. Today that’s not the case. It has become a relationship between a commercial service provider and a consumer. Media, movies and literature can’t be faulted for reflecting this changed relationship. Only by decommercialising the doctor-patient relationship will we be able to restore faith in it. As noted physician Vikram Patel last week wrote in medical journal, The Lancet, illness in India is now caught in a “medical industrial complex”.


Dinesh C Sharma Dinesh C Sharma @dineshcsharma

Journalist, columnist and author based in New Delhi.

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