If you, like me, spend an unhealthy amount of time admiring celebrity photos on Instagram, the name Dr Jewel Gamadia must ring a bell. He made his big social media debut last October. Actress Anushka Sharma posted a photo with the young doctor saying, ‘Do health the right way! This is what my friend Dr Jewel has made me realise. Grateful for your amazing knowledge in your field Jewel’. A few days later he got further validation by Katrina Kaif. A similar insta post by her read “With my dearest friend, Jewel …. who always makes me smile even in my saddest moments ….. I hope you continue to spread your knowledge and joy to all those around you.” If Dr Jewel’s Instagram page is to be believed, he only treats celebrities. His posts are a series of identical post-treatment selfies with them – the only thing that changes is the face of the star he’s cured and the colour of Dr Jewel’s funky ties. In fact, if you look closely at his photos, you’ll find a skeleton in a colourful tie hanging on his wall. This excessive exposure to film wallahs seems to have rubbed off on the young doctor. His dramatic bio reads ‘Main tumhain kuch hone nahin doonga’. I was intrigued.
Getting a hold of Dr Jewel was fairly easy. Beauty magazines like Elle and Vogue had already carried his tips on diets, flawless skin and the importance of chewing your food. I excitedly called the doctor only to hear his hushed whisper on the other end saying that someone from his team would get back to me. A doctor with a publicity team? More intrigue. A couple of hours later, Dr. Jewel himself returned the call. I told him we wanted to profile Bollywood’s trusted go-to doctor. He agreed but refused to be on camera. We set an appointment for two days later at one of his two clinics in suburban Mumbai.
Researching Dr Jewel was fun. It basically meant trawling through some more photos with celebrities, including a really awkward one of him tugging at Ajay Devgn’s leg while he lay on the doctor’s table. In his interviews, the doctor had spoken extensively about the merits of Western acupuncture. “It’s a slow process but its organic and changes happen from within—not to mention it’s drug-free,” he told Vogue. A colleague who had consulted Dr Jewel a couple of times later described his treatment like this – “He straps you to a dozen wires which supposedly send some sort of electrodes into your body. There’s also a big plasma screen that displays the increasing and decreasing levels of your spleen, intestines, etc. Basically he says he’s cleaning up your organs, flushing them clean.” But more on this later.
Two days later, I braved the Mumbai monsoons for an appointment at Dr Jewel’s clinic, which turned out to be a fancy building in the western suburbs of Andheri. As I hurriedly paid my rickshaw driver, my phone buzzed. It was the doctor. ‘Tiwari will be downstairs’ he texted. Miraculously a uniformed guard with a walkie-talkie appeared before me. It seemed Tiwari was expecting me all along. In the elevator, Tiwari murmured into his walkie talkie, “front entrance ya back door?” “Front” came the reply immediately. In seconds I was inside someone’s living room. This was certainly not a doctor’s clinic.
If Dr Jewel’s Instagram page is to be believed, he only treats celebrities. His posts are a series of identical post-treatment selfies with them – the only thing that changes is the face of the star he’s cured and the colour of Dr Jewel’s funky ties.
The young man I now recognised from Instagram walked out and shook hands. He didn’t seem a day older than 27. He was casually dressed in a round neck t-shirt and trousers and a walkie talkie like the one Tiwari was carrying. I began with what I thought would be the perfect icebreaker. “Doctor you look incredibly young. How old are you?” He swiftly swooped down on my recorder and tried turning it off. He didn’t want to disclose his age. This was not going well.
Take 2. After engaging him in some casual chit-chat to break the tension, I told him I was going to begin recording our conversation again. The more I asked, the lesser he revealed. Each answer was mystifying. He told me that he had been practicing Western acupuncture for around 4 years. When I enquired where he got his degree from, he dodged the question, telling me instead that the science originated in Germany. But how did he get so popular? How did Bollywood discover him? Does he treat us commoners too? “This is my passion, my hobby. I love doing it. I don’t see people very often. On average I may see only one client and sometimes even none,” he responded tersely.
I soldiered on. How does he know what ails his celebrity clients? “I can just make out. When someone tells me his or her symptoms I can make out. I have been studying things for a long time. I have a hunger for knowledge.” I wanted to know more. “I know that every issue begins with a deficiency in your body. So I need to diagnose the right deficiency. I just give them a dietary change and it’s done. Simple.” But it must involve needles I confidently asked, putting out literally the only thing I knew about acupuncture. “No” he deflected. “Maybe. Sometimes.”
Doctor Jewel looked at his watch every few seconds. Clearly, the questions about his process were making him uncomfortable. So I switched gears to something more fun – social media! We know he loves that, right? I had noticed that many of his 46 thousand followers were desperately trying to seek an appointment with the doctor. “I don’t have time to engage with followers but I try to spread awareness. I don’t want any more clients.” he said.
Almost on cue, in walked a gentleman who the doctor introduced as his partner. I quickly recognized him as Vijay Gutte the director of the soon to be released Accidental Prime Minister starring Anupam Kher (also Doctor Jewel’s client) as Dr. Manmohan Singh.
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You are my poster child for my #GlowFromWithin mantra @aditiraohydari main tumhe kuch hone Nahi doonga😃 repost via @instarepost20 from @aditiraohydari Boss doctor… Best doctor… And entertaining to the core! @dr.jewelgamadia #DrFixit #healthfromwithin #GlowWorm #DontPopPills #fixitfromtheinside Ps- I was his first patient… actually guinea pig 😂😂😂😂 🌟💪🏻 Pps- don't miss the tie and the new glasses!!! 😬
Seven minutes had passed and Doctor Jewel had spent most of them staring at his watch awkwardly. I cracked. I asked him if he was in a tearing hurry. “You have 5 minutes,” he said curtly. How do you profile someone over a 5-minute chat? I requested for half an hour showing him my long list of questions. “I keep having meetings, people coming from all over the world to see me. I have to catch up on so many things, you see.” He was somewhere between apologetic and nervous. I picked up my laptop, turned off my recorder and thanked him for his time.
As I played back this strange encounter with the ‘Khushi ka doctor’ (that’s how one of his celebrity clients addressed him) in my head, I tried finding clues to what may have triggered his odd behavior. I checked with my colleague who was once being treated by him. “I will NEVER forget how I was strapped to all these wires and he casually mentioned he wasn’t actually a qualified doctor. Imagine telling that to someone while they’re in your hands! Also Jewel was very indiscreet. He kept telling me about the drug habits of some of his clients. I got the feeling that he’s very immature. He’s about 26 he claims, so it made sense. Too much too soon,” he said.
Doctor Jewel offered to reschedule the interview to another day. I decided to let the mystery of Jewel remain unsolved.