Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Ek Doctor Ki Maut (Death of a Doctor) [1990]

Subhash Mukherjee never received the recognition he deserved despite technically being the first person to perform in-vitro fertilization; instead he faced severe ostracization by bureaucrats and fellow medical professionals alike. The sad story of this man who was perennially misunderstood and even shunned during his lifetime formed the point of reference in this sensitively directed film by Tapan Sinha. Dipankar Roy (Pankaj Kapoor), a doctor in a government hospital in Calcutta, might just have discovered the vaccine for leprosy – by working for over ten years all through the night at the make-shift laboratory in his home. However, instead of his achievement being celebrated and he being helped in completing the pending formalities, he faces opposition, reprimands, insults and severe apathy in general – and the unforeseen delays as a result of this costs him dearly, both professionally and personally. The only ones who give him company through this ordeal are his loving wife (Shabana Azmi), his paternalistic teacher (Anil Chatterjee), and a young journalist (Irfan Khan), even as his slightly jealous long-time friend, who is now a renowned physician, refuses to back him. The film boasts of strong performances by all, but the cake would go to Pankaj Kapoor – he gave an astounding turn as the short-tempered man who becomes a pariah for all on account of his refusal to genuflect before the powers that be. His portrayal of the character’s anger, frustrations, and emotional turmoil, were heartbreaking for me as a viewer. The overall treatment of the film and development of some of the side characters could have been better, but that can be ignored in view of the larger picture.

Director: Tapan Sinha
Genre: Drama/Medical Drama/Social Drama
Language: Hindi
Country: India

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