Friday, October 23, 2009

Of Blood counts, Hospitals and dear life.

"Why are your eyes red?" asked Akanksha, on meeting after almost two months of the Rajasthan schedule for Mr. Benegal's "Road, Movie". I didnt have an answer, I checked in the mirror and thought, must be due to the traffic, or pollution, dust or something. Little did i know that Akanksha could see the danger coming, and well I could not. As usual, ignoring her concern, I went on with my activities, of being the part of post production team.

A few days later, it did come, like the invasion of those deadly locusts in Days of Heaven. First, in the form of rashes on the body leading to the scare and doubt of it being 'measles' and later in the form of high fever, extreme weakness and loss of appetite. As, the eyes started getting more red with passing days, I went to a physician. She suggested a few tablets and asked me to come after a week, But I had my sixth sense telling me
"ma'am my condition is too weak to survive on your small tablets till the next bloody week".

And since it was measles I was frightened to go to any of my Uncle's or Masi's place, fearing they all have kids ranging from the age of 8 to 20, who can be easily susceptible to such viral infections.

I can understand how some people would like to run away from such trouble rather than helping out the diseased. In a city, where every other day you find a dead body lying unattended on a local train station, the act of ignoring or even hating the idea of you being forced to see a diseased person for a few days in your house, is completely logical. In addition to it, you also have the fear of getting the virus transmitted, but then measles do not come so easily to adults as it comes to children. Thus, with those individuals I can empathize, but I cant respect them.

This is where in a state of complete helplessness, all one needs is a two second of concern and a gentle smile that "all will be well". No wonder Munnabhai is one of the best characters to come on screen in recent years, so much so that you wish that every hospital had a post called "the healer" without the patient knowing it who he or she is.

Coming back to the sob-story, on 21st October, MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) called for a local transport strike. No auto taxi or cab was allowed to ply on Bombay roads. On this fateful day, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. A "stranger to this city" Tanmay and a workaholic Akanksha were subjected to run from pillar to post in a city that they were far from familiar. They knew no good doctors, no good hospital and almost no good people.

Akanksha's colleague came to help, she suggested her family doctor, Dr. Shenoy in Santacruz West, Shastri Nagar. On examining me for five minutes, Dr. Shenoy told us to rush for a Blood Test. The apocalypse had begun. The blood sample took away whatever little energy I had. I sat there on the steps of that "world's most expensive" (or so I thought) laboratory. Akanksha rushed to an ATM and Tanmay ran to get some food, whatever he could lay his hands on. At that moment, even in that state, it occurred to me how could someone feel if he/she is left alone to die in a city of billions.

The results of the Blood Test were soon out and by the time the results came (in some 5 hours), I had completely lost consciousness, as they say "life was getting blurred and out of focus", the only thing I remember is Tanmay's mom, Ruchi Aunty and Akanksha talking to Dr. Shenoy over the phone and uttering words like "admit", "hospital", "ambulance".

Before I knew, I was inside an ambulance that was enjoying its fast pace on the empty streets of Mumbai at 7 30 pm, the so-called rush hour in the evening. Well, in a certain sense it was a rush hour. As we reached hospital, there was a wheel-chair ready, on which I was put and the only visual I saw or I remember is Tanmay paying the ambulance driver.

Now as they show in movies, big hospitals have their own way of dealing with any and every kind of patients.

"25,000/- deposit" said the man at the reception. Remember those were early days in Mumbai to have your bank account filled with that much amount.

And as it happens in the movies, like a fairy tale godmother came Bhavya Mishra with her Citi Bank card. Whoa, the next minute I was in the ICU with all kinds of needles, tubes, bottles, sharp objects, bandages and an army of nurses working. Dr. Abhishek Bhargav entered the ICU, he was informed by Akanksha and Dr. Shenoy about the Blood count and all the different kinds of numbers from haemoglobin to platelets, from WBC to RBC. Akanksha was talking like an expert with the doctors and for a moment I thought, "was she an undercover Doctor" like Dipti Naval in that film, when Utpal Dutt gets a heart stroke. Ah- the perils of being a movie buff, you can never gauge the seriousness of a situation. Many more tests were conducted, with no certain results - neither it was Dengue, nor it was the deadly Falciparum. Even the virus was confused. The only thing they knew was that the platelet count in blood had gone terribly low and there was no resistance power left in the body. If it was mental resistance, I could have shown "Who's your daddy!", but here I didn't have a choice.

I came to senses when there were five people rubbing my feet, like that monotone sound that suddenly switches to the atmosphere sounds. From then till next seven days, I was subjected to the pungent odour of the hospital, the sight of patients with even more dangerous problems, shift-changing nurses, regular visits from concerned relatives, ever-increasing medical bills, a sense of claustrophobia, a set of worried parents and my worst fear in life - those Knife-like POINTED god-damned Injections.

The most touching memory of this whole incident: Hospitals have this system of Lunch for relatives of patients. Over one such lunch, my father broke down and couldn't end thanking Dr. Akanskha "from the depth of his heart" for saving Hardik. (from the depth of one's heart)

This week, 21st-27th October is the first anniversary of that incident.

I cannot end this write-up without this: Thank you Tanmay, Ruchi Aunty, Bhavya and Dr. Akanksha. I owe it to you.
(let it sound like an Oscar speech, after all life is precious)

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

10 points on why one should repent on missing a gem of a film called Chintuji

1. I know so many of my friends and colleagues who keep repenting on the fact that they miss serials and features that Doordarshan used to air in late 80s. Their mood, their visuals, their characters - all of them were so near to life, so much so that we could touch them and associate with them untill the disastrous dragon in the name of "satellite television" came and engulfed our imagination and changed how we watch serials and soaps. Well, for all those people who miss the good ol doordarshan-like features, Chintuji is a must watch.

2. It is a delightful satire, although at times too good to believe, but i would rather go with "too good to believe" than with "too asinine to believe" - especially the way mainstream films, television and images are today.

3. Chintuji is about a writer-director in command, he spins an amazing fabric keeping in mind the way our celebrity-obsessed society and media behave. A small sub-plot also tries to tell about a recent terror attack which the Indian constitution or rather the right wing has completely misconstrued. Although the film could have done without it, but "chalo koi nai...". On second thoughts having read about the Afzal case, a little more indication on how the case has gone wrong would have been wonderful. But then this was already a sub-plot.

4. There is a beautiful moment that the director weaves in with the story - that of Raj Kapoor and his "Mera Naam Joker" days. Some of you may not relate with it, but i was brought up on a steady diet of Raj kapoor films & Shankar-Jaikishan songs and when that sequence in "Chintuji" came, i was overwhelmed. Truly it was a wonderful moment for a hindi film lover.

5. A filmmaker said: "film is all about little little details", which Chintuji is full of. Right in front of the director's onslaught is the film industry itself. He mocks and spoofs its own people, right from Junior Artists Association to tantrum-throwing actors. from the "age-old writer" to mentioning "bhatt saab" again and again. The results are hilarious.

6. An interesting thought of making a tribal song and in place of a particular language, there are words mentioning names of famous directors who gave us the "visual" language. From Copolla, De Sica, Kurosawa to De Palma, Bertolucci, Woody Allen and ending it with Satyajit Ray. Brilliant! No one did it till now and it was always on cards. It reminded me of Aamir Khan's "daulat ki Jung" where he mentions hindi film names to the tribal leader, much to his chagrin, but this song in Chintuji was much better.

7. Satyakam. Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Dharmendra - For more on this, watch the film.

8. Rishi Kapoor

9. Rishi Kapoor

10. Rishi Kapoor.

I am yet to watch Ranbir in Wake up Sid, But taking nothing away from the talented kid, i hope he watches this gem of a film of his father. What a year for Rishiji to reinvent himself. After playing Producer Rommi Rolly in one of this year's best film Luck by Chance, this is a wonderful performance. I hope the film and the performance get its due recognition.

For people passionate about cinema, Chintuji is a must watch. I am nowhere related to the film or its DVD manufacturer but the idea that someone who loves cinema has made a small good-intended piece of it, is thrilling.

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta