Bridging the two

Ambika Shaligram
Friday, 29 June 2018

A Marathi play, Jara Samjun Ghya, looks at the changing dynamics between the doctor-patient relationship. It will be staged today, and tomorrow on the occasion of Doctors’ Day

Sagar Ahire’s father dies when he is being operated upon by Dr Ninad. In the succeeding turn of events, Ahire accuses 

Dr Ninad of negligence; the case is taken up by the media and unlike what happens in real life, the debate doesn’t become shrill. Rather the writer of the play, Dr Vivek Bele, ensures that both parties get a fair chance to discuss their problem.

Jara Samjun Ghya, a Marathi play produced by Maharashtra Cultural Centre, and directed by Abhay Godse takes a close look at the changing dynamics between the doctor-patient relationship, especially the trust deficit and the cloud of suspicion hanging over it. The play, which is 11-show-old, is holding a special show today and tomorrow on July 1, which is Doctors’ Day, to get a dialogue started.

Writer’s Perspective  
Sharing his thoughts on penning Jara Samjun Ghya, Dr Bele says, “The issue of medical negligence is one aspect of the play. And, so is the ‘patients advised by google’. At the crux, is the communication between the doctor and the patient. How to communicate with patients wasn’t dealt with in the medical curriculum. Is the doctor’s role limited to prescribing medicines or can it be something more? Can he entertain patient’s questions? I think, if a doctor discusses his patient’s issues, queries, with transparency, some level of trust can be restored.”

Bele, who is into medical research and clinical trials of pharmaceutical drugs, says that considering the scope of the play, he doesn’t digress into the ‘bigger issues’ of medical crisis generated by vested interests of the Western countries. Also, he does not get into the debate of allopathy versus homeopathy/ ayurvedic medicine systems. “These are important issues, no doubt. If I had raised them in the play, it would have led to sensationalisation. But do I have a solution for this? I don’t. I don’t have a solution for the rapidly deteriorating doctor-patient relationship either. But this is an issue that can be discussed, debated in the hope of giving us a direction. I think we should make small beginnings,” he explains. 

Director’s Vision
Abhay Godse, the director, says upfront that ‘content is king’ here. “It’s an important issue. Hence we decided to keep the paraphernalia and properties minimum. All we need is a screen, projector, a couple of chairs and tables, for the play to be staged. This was deliberate because we want Jara Samjun Ghya to reach out to many people in as many towns and cities as possible,” says Godse.

The cast too therefore comprises Dr Mohan Agashe (who represents the medical fraternity in the play) and Manjusha Godse (as the news anchor). “Putting together a play with more actors means juggling their dates. But we wanted this play to be staged outside of Pune and Mumbai, so we went ahead with just two actors,” he adds.

Dr Manohar Bhagwat, who steps in for his son Dr Ninad, and the news anchor are the only two characters on the stage. “These days, the audience is visually attuned, so the story moves forward as a debate show on television, wherein Dr Bhagwat explains the medical perspective, the limitations of the practitioner. Then, there is the audio-visual screening of laymen who share their opinions on the medical field. The debate angle was necessary because there are pros and cons to this issue, so we have used it as a narrative device,” adds Godse. 

In the second half of the play, other devices like email narrative and a short film were included. “These devices were appreciated by the theatre fraternity. But it didn’t go down too well with the audience, who does not watch theatre regularly. However, we want them to watch the play, and hence we did away with some of the devices and developed them into scenes instead,” he informs.

The reactions
The play has been kept fluid depending on the reactions that they have been getting and changes are made accordingly. “The reactions are extreme,” say Godse and Bele. “The audience has liked the play, but the doctors feel that the play is pro-patients and vice versa. I guess this is what we wanted. The play’s purpose would be served if the patients realise that the doctor has limitations and he is not out to fleece them, every time. And if doctors address some issues within their fraternity, and listen to the patients sympathetically, then we would arrive at a bridge,” adds Bele. 

ST Reader Service 
Jara Samjun Ghya will be staged at Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagruha, Hirabaug, Tilak Road on June 30 at 7 pm and on Sunday, July 1 at 11 am. Tickets are available at the venue one hour prior to the show.

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