MEDICINE IN BOLLYWOOD STYLE

Bollywood has it’s own ideas of illness, and all things related to medicine.

Filmy illnesses have their own special signs and symptoms.

Take for example, someone who has had an accident.Every other film/serial has one such victim.

Whether it’s a car crash or a street fight, when someone gets a head injury they always end up on a clean, comfy hospital bed, in a private room of course. Note how they they never get admitted to a communal ward, although nobody knows who they are or who will pay the private room bill!. A neat little bandage adorns the forehead and the only dramatic wound is a circular, red dot on one side of the forehead- never two dots, just one.How they always manage to hurt themselves so precisely is a mystery. Of course many head injuries are accompanied by the obligatory and predicatable amnesia- loss of memory. The only way the amnesia is cured is the person having another 2nd accident of course, complete with a head injury! Wow! This method of treatment must be researched by doctors- it works all the time in our filmy stories!

Anybody wondered how come the accident victim always gets a head injury but never a facial injury at the same time. Never! The face is intact- no cuts, no jaw fractures, no bruises[ unless it’s a street fight, where the hero/villain ends up with a macho swollen eye. That is acceptable]. But the heroine always escapes unscathed, with a few hair out of place and face scrubbed clean of makeup[ or so we think].

The only time these filmy sorts ever hurt their face is when they hurt it so badly that there is nothing left of it and they need a face transplant to sort it out.

Long before the first face transplant was done in real life, our Bollywood types were getting them done and not only that but along with a new face, they got a new voice[ thanks to a larynx transplant], brand new hair[yup, advanced hair follicle transpant] and a brand new body to go with the new face. But mind you, with all this happening, their brain remained intact- no amnesia etc. Whew! Neurologists, plastic surgeons eat your heart out and take a lesson or two!

The most bizarre medical scenarios are floated by Bollywood.

When a very ill patient is in bed, all there is in the posh, clean hospital room is an IV saline bottle hanging on a pole. If more lucky, the ill person gets a heart monitor of some sort. Yup and all of us know when the filmy person is dead, because Bollywood had made sure over the years that we get trained in reading an ECG……..when we see that flat line in a filmi monitor we know it’s all OVER!!

 

Oh and sometimes, only sometimes can they please connect the oxygen mask to something and not just leave it over the ill person’s face??? It needs to be actually attached to an oxygen cylinder somewhere, even if it is a fake one.

Oh and when they do surgery in our films, please can the surgeon stop fiddling with his face mask using his gloved, bloodied hands? That is a definite no-no.Also can he/she please tie it around at the top and bottom, behind the head, as it is is meant to be? Many times, they just leave the ‘nadas’ at the bottom untied and the bottom half of the mask is just hanging like a curtain with two cords on either side. Which surgeon in real life does this?

 

In the film, MajorSaab, there is an abosultely hilarious scene when a ‘doctor’ of the filmi sort tries to save person’s life in the operation theatre. He performs his special version of CPR[cardiopulmonary resuscitation]. The way he jumps on the patient’s chest and pumps is a lesson in how NOT to do CPR- this has to be seen to be fully appreciated. The enthusiasm of the filmy doctor had to commended because it does indeed at least give people a rough [ very rough] idea that there is something called CPR – just that this is not the way to do it. They say laughter is the best medicine and I have a feeling that the laughter from the audience is what helped the dying patient to get well soon, certainly not the doctor’s antics.

Now, I cannot help but think of a scene from a Bollywood film[ cannot remember the name] , where someone needs a blood transfusion. One must remember that blood transfusion is one of Bollywood’s specialities.

So yes, this person needs blood and these other people come in from various corners of the city to give blood. Guess what! They also turn out to be this person’s long lost brothers and mother as well! Wow, what luck, what destiny!

And then of course they all have the same blood group, because filmy families always do. So there they lie on beds next to each other and donate generously to their new found brethren. Wish such miracles happened in real life, but thanks Bollywood, for advocating a noble cause like blood donation.

There was another movie in which the director was probably hell bent on showing how blood is the same, no matter what religion you belong to. So another noble thought, although, I don’t think the director meant same blood group. Anyway, in one scene, the two guys, belonging to different faiths lie next to each other on hospital beds and their blood is extracted and then it MIXES together, drop by drop, in the bottle[!] before it goes into someone else. The symbolism was great, but does this ever happen in real life?

Please someone tell me which film this was.Please. Point taken: we have the same blood within us. Point not to be taken: it doesn’t work that way Mr Director. You see, it’s a little more complicated than this. William Harvey discovered blood groups. I’m sure he certainly never imagined such dramatic blood mixing.

I could go on and on.

NOW PICTURE THESE SCENES that have appeared in countless Bollywood films:

  • Scene 1: A woman collapses, she is carried to a bed where she is lying unconscious. The doctor is called and everyone in the household gathers at the bedside. The doctor, like a magician, examines her pulse intently and pronounces: “Congratulations! she is going to be a mother!” Wow! No medical history, no date of last menstrual period, no pregnancy test. This is Bollywood style medicine at it’s best.

 

  • Scene 2: A woman, usually newly married, suddenly runs to the sink and starts vomiting. The male members of the house start panicking. But a calm, wizened elderly lady of the house smiles knowledgeably and based on the fact that the woman is vomiting, proudly and confidently diagnoses the ‘good news’. “Don’t worry, have no fear” she says. “She is going to be a mother”.

Ah granny’s wisdom! Who can dispute that? Bollywood grannies seem to have their own special skills at diagnosing pregnancy based on vomiting! No, it cannot be a case of food-poisoning or just a stomach upset. If you are married and especially newly married, Bollywood grannies will most certainly diagnose a pregnancy!

 

  • Scene 3: An unmarried woman suddenly runs to the sink and starts vomiting. However this time, the wizened elderly lady of the house is horrified as she diagnoses pregnancy in an unwed mother. Even the music score that accompanies the vomiting is sinister sounding and that is one of the clues that suggest that something terrible has occured. No wonder the granny instantly guesses it’s a pregnancy. Again, there are never any chances that it could be simply something nasty the poor girl ate the previous night. Never! Also, no doctor required here, not even the one who checks the pulse and gives a prompt verdict of pregnancy.

 

  • Scene 4: A woman, usually married, suddenly craves pickle. She steals some from the kitchen, goes to a place where she thinks nobody can see her and excitedly but shyly eats the pickle. Again, an older lady of house spies on her and comes to a conclusion in a matter of minutes. Pregnancy, of course! Who needs any investigations when the pickle jar is almost empty?

 

  • Scene 5: [In a Marathi serial] : Two older women are talking about a younger woman who has been feeling nauseous. One of the older women tells the other one “ It has to be pregnancy….after all, she has been having ‘kordya ultya’[ ‘dry vomiting’……presumably ‘retching’]”. I cannot suppress my laughter as I have to say Marathi serials are a bit more medically advanced compared to Bollywood films, considering that they seem to better at the differential diagnosis of vomiting!

The other day I was watching a Hindi serial where this woman with a scrubbed clean look was lying peacefully in a comfy looking hospital. I have a suspicion she wasn’t that ill,because she managed to apply clear mascara on her eyes and nude lipstick on her lips.

Anyway, the poor soul kept drifting in and out of consciosness. She had no monitors attached, no IV medications of any kind, but the doctor by her bedside was all she needed. Every time she became conscious, the hero would try to talk to her and then she would pass out again. The hero would panic….”doctor sahab! “he calls out.

“ No worries,” the doctor says matter-of-factly…..”Yeh to hota hi rahega” Then she slowly and coolly proceeds to check the pulse. That’s it. Problem sorted. The woman regains consciousness and the saga continues.

C’mon people at least borrow a fake stethoscope from a child’s doctor’s kit and use that as a prop! Or ask a real life doctor to guide you and direct you in scenes that have something medical going on.

Please feel free to add any Bollywood medical scenes I’ve missed out.

If I’ve inaccurately described a movie medical scene, then I must be forgiven because I did bump my head yesterday and it must the amnesia and confusion that has resulted from it. Although, unlike Bollywood, I am not looking to bump it again to regain my memory. Thank you very much.

 

 

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