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‘Ankur Arora Murder Case’ review: Physician, Heal Thyself

Medical dramas and legal dramas both make for compelling viewing – Robin Cook and John Grisham both sell millions of books; ‘ER’ (an American medical drama television series) and ‘The Practice’ (an American legal drama) both attracted millions of eyeballs; and Outbreak (a 1995 American medical disaster film) and ‘A Few Good Men’ (a 1992 American military courtroom drama film) both sent viewers’ adrenaline racing. Then how can a film that combines aspects of medical drama and legal drama, and is based on a sensational true story that rocked the nation, leave one so cold?

The answer lies in the writing. Every character – the strong mother, the earnest intern, the arrogant doctor, the determined lawyer, even the eponymous child – is a stereotype, an example of shoddy, clichéd, hackneyed, lazy scripting. And the answer lies in the unnecessary padding of the two love stories that are dragged unnecessarily into the narrative just to bring the film closer to the Bollywood archetype.

The common man has a capacity of tolerating scams and corruption, but finds it difficult to condone cases of medical negligence. Probably it is because the common man is loath to accept that god-like figure — the medical practitioner — as a human figure with feet of clay. ‘Ankur Arora Murder Case’ is such a tale of medical negligence — the story of how a child Ankur Arora (Vishesh Tiwari) dies because of Dr Asthana’s (Kay Kay Menon) negligence, and how his mother (Tisca Chopra) fights for justice with the aid of the doctor’s protégé (Arjun Mathur), and a lawyer (Paoli Dam).

The one good thing about the movie is the performances. Kay Kay Menon is incapable of a poor performance, while Tisca Chopra is always a delight to watch. Vishesh, as evinced in Ek Thi Daayan, is a natural talent. Paoli Dam tries her best, while Arjun is earnest. Manish Chaudhari, Harsh Chhaya, and Sachin Khurana add their usual competence. Which makes it all the more pitiful to watch actor after actor try desperately to rise above the shackles of the comatose screenplay.

So what does this film have in store for members of the medical profession? A cautionary tale of how pride and overconfidence can lead a doctor to overlook a routine, mandatory procedure before a surgery, ‘Ankur Arora Murder Case’ tries to add adage to the old saying: “Physician, heal thyself!”

The movie tries to look at an emotional issue from every aspect of the noble profession — from the young interns’ side, from the reputed senior doctor’s side, from the side of the people who run hospitals, and from the perspective of parents who have children in the medical field. There are enough medical terms thrown about to provide evidence that at least some research had been done into the world the movie tries to portray.

Just a pet peeve: why could the movie not have been called ‘Ankur Arora Medical Case’? That way, there could have been at least a modicum of suspense about the tale, a desire to stay and watch a story unfold. Is it because director Suhail Tartari had earlier helmed a movie titled ‘My Wife’s Murder’, and perhaps ascribed the moderate success of that venture to the talismanic presence of the word “murder” in the title?

 

Arnab Kumar Choudhury is a poet, writer and senior business executive.

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