Medicine is often called the noble profession. The present coronavirus crisis has once again proved why that is the case. It’s the medical professionals who are at the forefront of the battle against this fatal disease and doing their utmost to contain them. They’re combating it day and night despite the risks and are really going beyond the call of duty. Our films have always portrayed doctors and nurses in a good light. As a salute to the bravehearts fighting this war for us, we bring you a list of films where the health care professionals exemplified the noble traits of their profession.
Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946)
The film is based on the life of a real-life Dr Dwarkanath Kotnis, an Indian doctor who worked in China during the Japanese invasion in World War II and gave up his life treating his patients. The idealistic young doctor, played by V Shantaram, who also directed the film, learns that medical help is required by the Chinese who are held under siege by the Japanese and travels there at the height of the Second World War. He meets a Chinese girl there who becomes his assistant and in due course, they marry. Such is their zeal that on their wedding night itself, they set out to help the wounded after a raid. A plague sets in and in order to find a cure for it, the good doctor self-injects himself with it in order to develop ant-bodies. He’s able to develop a vaccine but later succumbs to the rigours of the profession. His young wife is seen coming to India along with his infant son in the climax.
The film was based on a short story written by Sachin Bhowmick. It’s a love triangle between a young woman who marries an idealistic doctor but later develops feelings for a rich friend. Dr Nirmal Chowdhary (Balraj Sahni), who lost his mother to illness decides to dedicate his life to serving the poor and moves to remote Nandgaon. A rich heiress, Anuradha (Leela Naidu) is smitten by him and wants to marry him, despite him warning her of the hardships she’ll face in a remote village. She marries him against her father’s wishes but soon the toil of running a household without any servants in a far-off place begins to take its toll. Her husband too cares more for his patients than for marital bliss. Chance gets her close with a rich suitor Deepak (Abhi Bhattacharya) whose injured girlfriend is successfully operated upon by Nirmal. She longs to get back to the lush life of the city, only to change her mind at the last minute when she learns that her husband is held in high esteem by his peers. It was a simple story highlighting the fact that doctors serving in remote areas sometimes have to sacrifice family life for the sake of their cause.
Dil Ek Mandir (1963)
This was another love triangle between a doctor, his lover and the man she eventually marries. It was quite melodramatic in content, in keeping with the kind of films that were being made but depicted the dedication of a doctor nevertheless. Dr Dharmesh’s (Rajendra Kumar) only lives to serve his patients. He’s nursing a broken heart because the love of his life Sita (Meena Kumari) has married a rich businessman Ram (Raaj Kumar). Ram gets cancer and comes to Dharmesh’s hospital for treatment. Sita isn’t sure Ram is the right doctor for her husband as his feelings might come in the way. To prove to her that his zeal for curing patients is bigger than his feelings for her, he dedicatedly works day and night to find a line of treatment and even suffers a heart attack in the process. He successfully operates on Ram but later dies out of exhaustion. Ram and Sita later erect a hospital in his memory.
This time it’s not a doctor but a nurse who was at the forefront. The film is based on the Bengali short story titled Nurse Mitra by noted Bengali writer, Ashutosh Mukherjee and is a remake of director Asit Sen’s own Bengali film, Deep Jwele Jaai (1959), starring Suchitra Sen. It’s a poignant tale of a nurses’ complete dedication towards curing mental patients and the breakdown she undergoes because of it. Nurse Radha (Waheeda Rahman) cures a patient Dev Kumar (Dharmendra), of his illness through her affectionate care. She crosses professional boundaries and falls in love with him and is heartbroken when he leaves the hospital. A new patient, Arun Choudury (Rajesh Khanna), suffering from acute mania now gets admitted. Radha initially refuses to treat him but later relents. They both share memories from their past and Arun gets gradually cured. Convinced that he too will eventually leave her, Radha suffers a mental breakdown. However, Arun promises to wait for her till she’s cured. The film had some fabulous music by Hemant Kumar, including the haunting song, Tum pukar lo.
The film depicted the friendship between a kindhearted doctor and a cancer patient. It starred two superstars — the current one, Rajesh Khanna and the one in the making, Amitabh Bachchan. Dr Bhaskar (Bachchan) is a cancer specialist who wants to do good by his poor patients. His kind nature makes him invest emotionally in his patients and he doesn’t like it when they lose the battle with life. Anand (Khanna) a man at the terminal stage of cancer enters his life and both become fast friends, so much so that he starts living in Bhaskar’s house. Anand discovers Bhaskar loves Renu (Sumita Sanyal), from a distance and tries to fix up their marriage. He kind of lights up everyone’s life in the short span of six months that he has. He passes away but not before teaching a valuable lesson to Bhaskar that he should learn to live in the moment and not take life, or death, too seriously. It gave the viewers a glimpse about what our surgeons, especially those who battle cancer, have to go through on a daily basis and made us realise the efforts they take to keep sane.
Ek Doctor Ki Maut (1990)
Based reportedly on real-life events, this is perhaps Pankaj Kapur’s finest film as an actor. He plays a dedicated researcher who at the cost of his health and family life, discovers a vaccine for leprosy. However, jealousy by those in power makes his life hell. Insult turns to injury when his discovery gets credited to American scientists. He’s shunted to a small village but toils on. Redemption comes at last when a prominent foreign institute invites him to be on the panel of doctors researching other life-threatening diseases. It was a study of the dedicated researchers in microsome and how the unhealthy atmosphere stops them from reaching their true potential. Pankaj Kapur brought to life the sincerity and dedication of a doctor who has been married to research to perfection. It’s a must-see if you want to know more about the hearts and minds of doctors researching cures for new diseases.