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Monday, August 10, 2009

Movieland’s medical miracles

The marvels of modern medicine need to be seen to be believed. But to a seasoned Bollyviewer (as yours truly is) these miracles hold no surprises. Hasnt Bollywood already shown that to cure any affliction be it mental or physical, or a terminal disease, we need only modern medicine? In movieland we need no gods, no saints and certainly no magic powers to make us healthy and wise. As Oscar Wilde says, Science is always making wonderful improvements in things and one never knows what may happen next. Bollywood film-makers have always known this, and exploited the full potential of science in ways that we mere muggles can never quite equal.
Here are some serious illnesses and disabilities successfully tackled by Bollywood’s science savvy doctors:

  1. Cancer: No matter how terminal and how severely metastasized (spread to different organs from its primary site), in Bollywood there is always hope for cancer patients. There are innumerable instances of this but only two that come to mind right now: Ek Saal and Prem Geet.

  2. Unnamed mental illnesses: Anything from mental retardation and schizophrenia to post-traumatic stress disorder, can be permanently cured in less than three hours. The trick, as Bollywood doctors found out early on, is to use a proper mix of LOVE and electric shock (preferably of the 2000 Volts variety). Dont believe me? Check out Khilona, Khamoshi, Bahurani, Pagla Kahin Ka the heroes were all cured by beautiful heroines and electricity. No wonder insanity was rife in this world before the advent of modern electricity!

  3. Heart problems (no I am not referring to love issues): – Thats another area where Bolly-doctors have proven their skills. Their area of expertise lies in curing “the-hole-in-the-heart” problems, but I would not underestimate these geniuses. If there were any other heart diseases in this world, I am sure they’d be able to tackle them successfully, too. Here are two examples of successful heart treatments: Saira Banu in Aao Pyaar Kare and Meena Kumari in Kinare Kinare were both afflicted by heart problems that were speedily cured by mysterious operations in Europe.

  4. Blindness: While real-world doctors are still grappling with ethical issues, clinical trials, safety of patients, lack of donors, and other such trivial matters, Bollywood doctors have stepped up and done the job! There have been corneal transplants from live donors (Suhaag) and mysterious (but expensive) operations to cure blindness (Prem Patra, Tumse Achha Kaun Hai, Jheel Ke Us Paar, Gauri, Fanaa, etc), galore.

  5. Mysterious inability to walk: This could be due to psychological problems, post-traumatic stress, mysterious accidents that cause paralysis, etc. No matter what the cause, the effect is that the patient cannot walk. Fear not, non-walking hero/heroines/important character. Bolly medicine has a sure-fire cure for you. It almost always involves very patient, sympathetic and very attractive doctors. Aaj Aur Kal is an excellent example where a young and very handsome doctor Sunil Dutt cures Nanda.

  6. Polio: While the rest of the world may resort to preventive medicine (vaccines) to eradicate it, Bollywood takes a more robust approach – it CURES it! As Master Tito can testify - he was cured by Doctor Shatrughan Sinha’s mix of pop-psychology and corporal punishment in Aa Gale Lag Ja.

  7. Amnesia: One must not forget amnesia. That is one problem that occurs way too frequently in Bollywood (and no – amnesia in writers does NOT account for numerous plotholes in scripts!). Here too, Bolly medicine has risen to the occasion. The doctors reflect on the complexity of human mind and let nature take its course. Nature always does take its course to cure amnesia – almost always in the form of a blow to the head! Prime examples - Ek Musafir Ek Haseena, Amar Deep, Door Ki Awaaz and several others that I hope you can tell me about (I am on the lookout to start an amnesia collection).
I hope these few examples have convinced you of Bolly-medicine’s greatness. More research is underway to fully catalogue all diseases cured by filmi-medicine and I would greatly appreciate specific examples from all of you. So tell me all about your favorite diseases and cures and of course, your favorite doctors!


  1. Of course it can cure all that!

    The one thing Bollywood seems not to have conquered is childbirth complications. They make a convenient method of getting rid of that boring wife in order to free a man into widowerhood while retaining a cute little munchkin to melt his intended's heart.

  2. Ha ha ha! I don't even know where to BEGIN. Of course, there's that real eye-surgery footage that has been gruesomely used over and over (Gauri, Jheel Ke Us Paar, and I'm sure others), eye transplants (Badshah with SRK springs to mind)...Rishi's electro-diagnosis apparatus to explain his mental condition in Karz, and---I can't believe you didn't mention THIS---the ubiquitous, cure-everything INJECTION. When in doubt, give the patient a shot!

    Ooh, and speaking of---the cure for bullet wounds---have a close friend or loved one dig the bullet out of your arm without anesthesia so that you can prove how very tough you are.

    Methinks we could milk this subject into an entire volume.

  3. Ah, if only we had Bollywood doctors in real life!

    What a great list - I've only seen one of those films so far (Fanaa), but I do remember seeing the grotesque eye surgery pics on Memsaab's blog a while back. Now if only they could find a cure for stupidity, THAT would be impressive!

  4. I love bollywood's take on Plastic surgery as seen in Khoon bhari maang and yeh vaada raha
    my fave doctor would have to be Tom Alter and Shammi Kapoor both as plastic surgeons in both movies above

  5. My favourite cure for blindness: banging the head of the blind person vigorously against a rock as seen in Do Dillon Ka Dastaan.

  6. What about the three-way blood transfusion in "Amar Akbar Anthony"?! That is a classic!

    And am I wrong or does Rishi get some shock therapy at the beginning of "Karz"?

  7. I KNEW I was missing a lot of interesting Bolly-medicine stuff. Thank goodness for knowledgeable readers like you - now I can complete my research! :-)

    ajnabi, motherhood is such a sacred thing that Bolly-doctors have decided not to meddle with it. They've left it entirely up to nature (or God), which is why it still appears to be an unconquered problem!

    memsaab, I cant believe I forgot THE INJECTION! Thanks so much for reminding me - its being added to my list as we speak. The bullet wound though, falls in the realm of the natural healing properties of the human body of the Indian male (females usually require a doctor or an undertaker). Rishi's electro diagnosis just goes to prove how important electricity is for Bolly-medicine. SRK has an obsession with blindnes like Manmohan Desai? I remember Guddu where SRK was intent on donating his eyes to Manisha (or was it the other way round?) - I didnt stick with the film long enough to find out whether he succeeded or not!

    You are right - this research cant be just one paper, it needs to be a whole thesis!

    shell, one does not want to cure stupidity in Bollywood - that would lead to complete and utter collapse of every plot! We wouldnt want that, would we? But yeah, Bolly-medicine in real life would be awesome. We should get together and see can be done...

    bollywooddeewana, how could I forget plastic surgery?! Thanks so much for reminding me. I would love to have Shammi and Tom Alter as my doctors too, though I suspect that for the former there would be a loooong wait-list!

    gebruss, you dont believe in tender-loving-care for suffering people?!!! Though if it works, I am sure head-banging will be part of documented cures.

    Filmi Girl, of course the three way blood transfusion to save Maaa is an important chapter in Bolly-medicine and needs to be included forthwith. Rishi's shock therapy is another important chapter in the annals of Bolly-medicine. However, its terrible side-effects (the treated patient begins to gain weight and starts to wear execrable sweaters) led to its discontunation almost two decades ago.

  8. one does not want to cure stupidity in Bollywood - that would lead to complete and utter collapse of every plot!

    Oh my gosh, I didn't mean in the movies! I need a cure for real life stupidity, more specifically for my other half.

  9. Awesome post! Absolutely loved it. Blindness and amnesia probably need an entire post devoted only to them, they seem to be such popular maladies... and the cures seem so equally fab (gebruss's example of banging a blind person's head on a rock has me still laughing!) Other blindness films I remember are Saathi (which is even better because Rajendra Kumar goes blind after his first wife Vyjyantimala runs away when it's discovered she has a heart problem), Mai Baap, Chhoti Bahen, Love in Tokyo and Mere Jeevansaathi.

    Another filmi illness: TB (on the way to being cured by love in Aah).

  10. This is fantastic!! I keep laughing about the electricity, so true!!

    Also in Amar Akbar Anthony, Maaa's tuberculosis is cured by a bang on the head -- that falling tree branch that makes her blind -- or possibly by a plothole.

    And now I'm also laughing about the three-way blood transfusion.


  11. I think my favorite Hindi film cure is the Hindi film song.:-D It's an all-purpose solution, but especially good for regaining speech/sanity/memory lost due to severe mental/emotional trauma. Pyar Ka Mausam, Baat Ek Raat Ki, Yarana, Meri Jung, etc. make great use of this miracle cure.:-D

  12. I don't disapprove of tender loving care for the patient, but the movies frequently don't seem to see that as an option.

    In Guddu, there SRK offers his eyes, and there is an eye-transplant in the end, but leaving both of the loving couple sighted.

    Not a cure but a recurrent fact is that anybody ever feeling suddenly dizzy and suffering from inexplicable headaches has in fact a brain tumour. And, marriages cures everything, from severe emotional trauma to alcohol addiction, at least for men.

  13. shell, there is unlikely to be a cure for that. Stupidity is hardwired in the human form! That is not to say that Bolly-medicine wont tackle it successfully if it set out to - but its not a much-desired area of interest to us viewers.

    dustedoff, you are a treasure! Thats a big list of blindness movies. Amnesia and blindness are by far the most popular filmi-maladies, and do deserve a post of their own. *hint, hint* :-)

    I thought about TB and Aah too - but to our generation it doesnt qualify as magical cure anymore!

    Virginia, yes a bang on the head serves multiple purposes. It can cause a malady and then cure it!

    Shalini, thats a good one - cant believe I forgot the healing properties of THE SONG. It even raises people from dead. Though it may not always be the beauty of the music that effects the cure (I'd rank Zindagi har kadam as sheer torture - no wonder Nutan remembered so fast!).

    gebruss, yes, marriage is another cure-all for men. I wonder why Bolly-medicine concentrates so much on cures for men?! Poor women just get killed off to cure their bad character or addictions.

  14. This is an amazing list - admittedly, I haven't even gotten through all of it, and it will take a while.

    Meanwhile, though, I would like to add a couple of items to the list of films about miraculous but expensive operations to cure blindness. One is the operation that cured blind Baby Naaz in Payal (which also helped everybody around her to stop weeping)...

    And once again, I would love to extend the "Hindi film" category into Pakistani Urdu films, so that I can mention the miraculous operation that cured Noor Jehan's character in Intezar:

  15. Depending on the plot needs, blood transfusions are either incredibly easy---just hook up a tube between two (or four) people and have at it; or incredibly difficult, requiring the rarest blood type not available in any blood bank. Naturally the latter circumstance throws up a character related to the victim (although we viewers are the only ones privy to that information at the time) to save the day :)

    And of course draining all the blood from your prisoners and sending it off in big glass jars to the front to cure soldiers is a classic bit of lunacy from Mard.

  16. Richard, a miracle operation that serves two purposes! Thats a must-see. I havent seen (or even heard of) Payal - looks like I will have to add it to my list of must-find films.

    And I have no objection to extending the "Hindi films" category to include Pakistani Urdu films - but I have a feeling that fans of the latter wont be quite happy with that!

    What is the miracle operation that cures Noor Jehan? She is singing beautifully in both clips you've linked to, and doesnt seem to be disabled in either - or was I too distracted by the singing to pay attention to details?

    memsaab, Bolly-medicine is more complicated than anybody could suppose. What may seem to us as mere whim on the doctor's part, is actually a pretty convoluted system that nobody but a filmi doc would understand! Given that, draining ALL the blood of any human (prisoner or free) sounds like the work of a vampire - is that what MD was implying about the British soldiers (thats who drained the blood, I assume) and their Raj?

  17. No, no...evil-Raj-supporting-Indian was draining the blood of Mother India's good citizens to support the British soldiers on some undefined (time or place or war) front. There were no vampires (although said evil Indian did sport a cape).

    Have you not seen Mard?????

  18. Sounds like MD took the description of the British as "sucking the blood out of our people" rather literally! Its in my to-watch pile - I just havent got round to watching it yet.

  19. Bollyviewer, regarding the Noor Jehan clips... Well, it is certainly understandable if Noor's singing distracted you from anything or everything :) . Besides, maybe it isn't as apparent in the song clips that these are pre- and post-blindness operation scenes if you haven't seen the whole film.

    But having seen the whole film (alebit without subtitles - but the plot was pretty, dramatically clear :)...I think Noor did a good job especially when she needed to portray someone who was seeing things for the first time. She is doing this to some extent by looking at things in a cetain way during that post-operation kathak dance - but I admit, I didn't know that this was what she was doing when I first saw the dance, before I saw the film...

  20. Hahaha, loooove the miracles in Bollywood. Thought about Yeh Vaada Raha and Koyla too.

  21. Richard, the songs are lovely. I guess I didnt pick up on the blindness thing because I was concentrating more on her voice in the first one (the video quality was pretty bad on my screen) and in the second one I was very distracted by her "dancing" - why did they make her do that?!! She is such a great singer. To make her jump through the hoops like that is sooooo wrong.

    Nicki, what was the miracle in Koyla (I was fortunate enough to miss it!)?

  22. Was there ever in any Bolly movie a cure for David's baldness???

  23. Would David be David without the bald pate?

    Bollywood may not have explicitly stated that, but they've been routinely mounting hair-miracles. Heroines grow their hair by as much as a foot from one minute to the next and even heroes change hair-length, though not quite as dramatically. So there is definitely a cure for David's baldness!

  24. ROTFLOL. Ahh, I've been waiting for a post on this miraculous subject!

    Its so ironic that with all these medical breakthroughs, the Bollywood doctors seem to let the simplest things slip right through their fingers. Like a fall down the stairs in Hum Aapke Hain Koun, or the heart problems that seem to become quite serious when the sons or daughters decide to defy their parents and marry (gasp!) the man/woman of their own choice.

  25. Nida, Bolly-medicine has made stupendous advances. But even they can hardly cure patients who never come to them - like the stair-fall-victim in HAHK. And sometimes, they do have to give in to the demands of the scripts simply because EVERYTHING in films is a slave to THE SCRIPT!

  26. what is the noor jehan film names again? the link is dead now