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Doctors take screen path to protest

A short film called ‘Siddhanta: The Decision’ is set to premiere on YouTube, in which the writer, the actors, the music director and the financiers are all doctors

Sudeshna Banerjee | Published 28.07.22, 07:18 AM
A still from the film ‘Siddhanta: The Decision’

A still from the film ‘Siddhanta: The Decision’

A group of doctors have come together to share their side of the story with society, which often points fingers at them with a host of allegations, from profiteering to negligence. And the medium they have chosen is arguably the most popular form of entertainment – film.

A short film called Siddhanta: The Decision is set to premiere on YouTube, in which the writer, the actors, the music director and the financiers are all doctors.


The plot revolves around a mob attack on a young idealist doctor, villifying him for the death of a heart patient at home after the family ignores his suggestion of hospitalisation during a house call.

The film is the brainchild of Abhik Ghosh, an ENT and head and neck surgeon, who is also the secretary of Protect the Warriors (PTW), a platform formed at the onset of the pandemic to support frontline workers. "For two years after Covid broke out, doctors were treated as god. But once the third wave subsided, incidents of assault on doctors resumed," he told The Telegraph, citing four instances across the country within a fortnight in March-April.

“At the same time, there is an exodus of brilliant students abroad who might have served the healthcare system if they got a conducive atmosphere here.”

Ghosh was searching for a unique way to protest. “I discussed a film with my PTW colleague Anirban Dolui and approached my batchmate Dwaipayan Majumdar with a storyline.”

Majumdar, a doctor with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, is known in the fraternity for his writing skills. “When Abhik approached me, I had laughed him off. But when he kept insisting, I came up with a story on the topsy turvy relation between healthcare workers and consumers, devising a twist in the storyline and adding characters like a supportive elderly school teacher and a woman doctor forever caught between duties at home and hospital,” said Majumdar.

Siwalik Banerjee, a rheumatologist, came on board as composer, creating and mixing the track all night over the weekend in his UK home. “I sang the Rabindrasangeet Pran bhoriye trisha horiye at a lower octave than my usual scale and a slower tempo to convey pathos and kept the vocals raw and unpitched. The protagonist had just been beaten up. So the song needed to convey emotion,” he said.

The film was screened at a Doctor’s Day event before the medical fraternity. “I heard people wept. The fear of being beaten up for no fault of their own hounds all of them,” Siwalik added.

All the actors were from the community. “We also had a student, Soumili Sen, from RG Kar Medical College and Hospital. A child was needed so Tanishi Paul, a radiation oncologist’s daughter, was roped in,” Ghosh said.

The only outsider was the director Parthasarathi Joarder, who brought in his crew. “We knew that for the message to be effective, the film had to be well-made,” said Ghosh.

Joarder admits that though the subject touched him, he was initially skeptical about the acting abilities of doctors. “I took auditions and was pleasantly surprised with quite a few. All I had to do was redistribute the roles according to potential,” he says.

Though most of the 12 doctors in the cast were in their comfort zone having to play their profession, general physician Suddhasatwya Chatterjee’s role was of a corporate executive married to a doctor. The trailer has moments like him reasoning with their child why her mother was always late to come home.

And it is a poignant scene where the tearful doctor-wife tells her husband: “Mili ke ami konodin daktar hotey debo na (I will never let Milli become a doctor).” That, Chatterjee points out, is a sad reality in many doctor families because they feel their jobs are not just thankless but also fraught with risk of blame without reason.

The trailer has crossed a lakh views, trending among doctor groups. The makers, who raised funds within the fraternity to finance the film, are adding English sub-titles so that their peers in other states can also watch and share it. “If the short film is a success, we might even go for a full-length feature on the subject,” Ghosh said.

Last updated on 28.07.22, 07:18 AM

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