Old Bollywood and medicine had a strange relationship. While there are some movies that got the medical facts right, most of them either had no clue about medicine, or else it came in the way of good storytelling. Here are some shining examples.
Pregnancy tests: What are those?
There is no concept of women remembering the dates of their periods in Hindi films. Missed your periods after sex? So what? Keep making phooli hui roti, serving your in-laws and taking care of your devars, until one day you actually vomit, preferably in front of the entire family, or a jealous mother-in-law, or the doting husband, and this is when you and the family finally realise that the bahu is pregnant, which is followed by sitar and santoor music (or in rare circumstances, a drum beat because the child is illegitimate or something). Urine pregnancy tests have not been invented, right? The only other way people in the family know that a woman is pregnant is when she starts craving pickle. Or something like that. Though that happens more frequently to the household help, not the main heroine.
Dava or Dua?
Hindi films are clear on one concept. Dua is more effective than dava. There is no doctor worth his salt who has not uttered this line: ab inhein dava ki nahin, dua ki zaroorat hai. And there is no dua worth its salt that has not worked. In this matter, films are secular, it can be a dua to bhagwaan, Allah or Jesus, or a peer baba, everything works.
Hit me, one more time, Bollywood style
Treatments in movies work on the principle that if something happens twice, then the situation reverts to the previous normal self. Lost your memory after a trauma to your head? No problem. Have the same kind of trauma again at the exact same place, and voilà! Memory is back again, you remember all your jaydaad ki details, your previous family, your wicked friend, your khoya hua vatan, everything. Stroke after you got electrocuted? No issue. One more electrocution, and you will be fit as a fiddle!
Jachcha or Bachcha?
Obstetricians probably know better, but for the life of me, it is difficult to imagine a condition where you can save just one life, either that of the jachcha (mother) or the bachcha, something the doctors can predict a few days in advance. And the jachcha dies a few days after child birth, giving her enough time to write stupid letters to the bachcha.
God has all the cures
Long-standing illnesses can be cured by gods. So long-standing blindness becomes regular vision after a visit to Shirdi, children with complex congenital diseases are completely cured after a darshan of Tirupati/Vaishno devi, mothers lying on their deathbeds are cured from an illness because an atheist son goes to the temple and accepts defeat, and so on.
Advances in transplantation have been further ahead in Hindi films than real life. Though there is hardly any movie where they deal with low-level stuff like kidney transplants: it’s always the heart or the brain. So Mithunda can throw a heart that lands exactly into the thorax and Suresh Oberoi can suggest transplanting a brain from one person to the other so that complicated criminal cases can be solved. It is all legit.
Jism ki garmi
Sex is a cure for hypothermia. Yes, if everything fails, you should give badan or jism ki garmi. After a cold night, which has become hotter thanks to the hero’s sharp medical mind, everything becomes normal. The day is sunny, the heroine is fit (except she has been knocked up, something she does not know yet), she is grateful even, and consent can go take a walk. One thing is inexplicable though: the hero could just lie down naked with the heroine, right? What is the need to sow their oats while they are treating a patient? Very unethical!
Blood is thicker than logic
Matching and testing of blood products is unknown in Hindi movies. As is the concept of a blood bank. You can directly donate blood, which is immediately given to the patient undergoing surgery. Or do it three-in-one donation, after the heroine doctor has confirmed that your blood group is also Rh, same as Ma-ji’s blood group. The few times people get blood from the blood bank, the villain comes in the way, almost always spilling the ketchup (sorry, blood), which enrages the hero and ends the villain’s life.
Pulse is the key to every diagnosis. Pregnancy, cancer, heart disease, everything. The only time people don’t check pulse is during death. At that time, they look at the eyes to see if the patient is dead or not. Smart.
Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation? Nah!
There is no concept of CPR in Hindi movies. Zilch. So how does a patient get resuscitated after a cardiac arrest? By threats from the heroine to God, slaps from the hero’s friend, cries of the mother, dua from the father and so on. If you get a more scientific film maker, then the doctor will skip the CPR bit, and immediately start using the defibrillators.
When will hosh come?
There is a medicine known only to the doctors in movies. It is called hosh aane ka injection, which works in either half an hour, or after a night’s sleep. Once the doctor has come with his big bag and given the hosh aane ka injection, you can be sure that the patient will be normal the next morning.
The doctor himself
Finally, there are a few kinds of doctors on the movies. One is the archetypical doctor in a suit, carrying his black bag with the entire pharmacy inside it, unemployed enough to go to Sethji’s haveli at his beck and call, and give that hosh aane ka injection; or a scheming, money-minded one who refuses to do an operation without a huge money deposit, something that forces our good hero to go down the path of crime. Rarely, it can be an ex-boyfriend of the heroine who is about to treat her husband, and after all the complexities of the (almost) love triangle are solved, plunges into the preparation of the surgery to the limits of exhaustion and dies in the process.
There is an easy fix to all these, of course. Just ask any physician if the scene makes sense. Get a medical consultant. But then, where is the fun in that?
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.