Restored on DVD: Ek Doctor Ki Maut

Rating: ★★★★ 

Verdict: Pankaj Kapur’s one man show. Ek Doctor Ki Maut resonate many discoveries more than recognition are met by criticism. 

Review: A story about the life and research of a doctor takes inspiration from Ramapada Choudhury’s story ‘Abhimanyu’. Bengal’s eminent filmmaker Tapan Sinha’s work comments on issues of ostracism and negligence.

The film is loosely based on a true story of a doctor from Calcutta who created India’s first child using IVF. The film is fictionalized on few counts including a change in the research subject of its main lead. Pankaj Kapur plays Dipankar Roy, who believes in being a scientist first and then a doctor. Ek Doctor Ki Maut produced by NFDC is among the most noted works from cinemas of the ’90s.

The film starring Pankaj Kapur and Shabana Azmi also beautifully explores the troubled relationship of a self-centered doctor and his wife. Dipankar’s life circles around visits to the government hospital and his lab at home. Staying up late nights to derive results for his research consumes the doctor’s life beyond limits. The doctor whose temperament stings his wife at home leads a life with only one motto – To eradicate leprosy from the face of this earth with his vaccination.

The film is crisply edited and wastes not a moment beating around the bush with the narrative. The camerawork makes the viewing experience enriching as it mutely moves from the laboratory to the couple’s bedroom and to his workplace.

In medieval stages Dr. Dipankar’s research work is flashed in media and newspapers creating a stir in the medical and scientific community. The research work is resisted by government officials and pressure builds upon him as time passes by. Dipankar Roy finds support only from Seema and another aged man doctor Kundu. He also goes to the extent of sending Roy’s findings to the British institution, John Anderson foundation.

The doctor suffers ill health unable to bear the societal intolerance to scientific discovery. In the midst a journalist Amulya (Irrfan) encourages him to carry on with his research.

Ek Doctor Ki Maut is an honest film with no stereotypes. Set in Calcutta, none of the characters speak with a heavy Bengali accent as is done in most typical clichés. Pankaj Kapur’s conviction is rare and noteworthy. The dialogues are delivered with much force to make you believe in Dr. Roy’s dream.

The scientist soon finds himself as soft target in a conspiracy against him. His transfer from the city to a small village breaks him down. The film finally shows Amulya reading about two American doctors who receive credit for inventing the same vaccine for relief from leprosy.

Ek Doctor Ki Maut is an unusual story which speaks of the setbacks of professional jealousy and at the same time shows the strength of unflinching faith from family. Tapan Sinha’s film on the troubles of embracing newness is beyond the shadow of a doubt a milestone in Hindi cinema. Watch it. 

Why should you watch this film?

The film offers to tell you a story about the experiments and experiences of a man who thrives to succeed with his research. Such stories are rare to come by in Bollywood which serves as a good reason to watch Ek Doctor Ki Maut. 

Ek Doctor Ki Maut is a title under the NFDC label ‘Cinemas of India’. The film is out on home video by NFDC. 

Soham Bhattacharyya

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