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Friday , September 5 , 2014
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Dr Philanthropy wows Big B
- How Rs 5 became fabulous in telly show that celebrates crores

Superstar Amitabh Bachchan would perhaps love to essay the role of Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (80) on the big screen.

For, the octogenarian general physician of Ranchi, seen on the small screen on Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) 8 on Wednesday night in the 10-minute documentary after the regular contest, was definitely the hero. And Big B just loved his punchline: “Desh ke sare doctor har roz ek patient ko muft ilaaj karein (Every doctor in the country should treat one patient for free every day).”

Mukherjee has been charging Rs 5 as fee per patient since the past 55 years. When he started out, he was just another young doctor charging a fee. As the years — and decades — rolled, the fee became philanthropy.

Now, it is something of a religion with him.

For patients who throng his Lalpur clinic-cum-pathology lab attached to his home, getting a reputable doctor to diagnose their illness for a fiver is a dream that comes true at this address.

That’s what the crew of Sony, the channel that beams KBC 8, found out when they came for shooting on July 28.

Asked, Mukherjee said he got a call from the KBC team this July. “They said they wished to interview me and highlight my profession across the country through KBC 8. Initially, I hesitated but finally agreed when they requested.”

The crew shot for over 12 hours. “They were very detailed. They asked me questions starting with my birthplace and schooling to higher education and service life, and checked my certificates. They also asked why I charge only Rs 5 for treatment,” Mukherjee said.

Bluntly, the former head of pathology department at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi, then known as Rajendra Medical College and Hospital (RMCH), says he is unhappy when doctors, many of whom are his students, charge hefty sums to treat patients.

“It is horrible. How much money do you need to buy a car and a house, I always ask my students,” he said.

Millions would have watched him on KBC 8 on Wednesday night. Naturally, his patients, such as Rinku Devi, are thrilled that the short documentary on doctor saab aired on one of television’s most watched shows has made him famous.

But, Mukherjee doesn’t crave the spotlight. He doesn’t need the trappings of fame either.

“Treating poor patients gives me immense pleasure. I appeared on KBC, which highlighted my work and our noble profession, but at the end of the day, I just care about my work,” he said.

His younger daughter Malavika Mukherjee — elder one, Sharbani Banerjee is married in Mumbai — said she was definitely excited.

“The Sony crew had not specified the date of telecast. So, yesterday night, when we saw Amitji praising my father, it was an amazing moment for our family. We sisters and our mother have seen how devoted our father is towards his profession. So, yes, it felt good that millions know about him now.”

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