This All-Doctors Band a Balm for the Poor
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17 June 2010
By Anuradha Mascarenhas
Let’s Act has been giving performances and raising funds for patients for the last 10 years
T 10 pm, paediatric surgeon Dr Dasmit Singh silently tiptoes his way around the Dwidal Nursing Home at Karve Road in Pune and knocks at a specially–designed soundproof room on the third floor. He is soon followed by prosthodentist Dr Chetan Hoshing. In the room, oncosurgeon Dr Kamlesh Bokil is busy tuning his guitar and patiently waiting for other doctors to arrive.
For these doctors, music is not just a stress–buster, they come together for a purpose. The last 10 years, these talented doctors have been belting out old Hindi and Marathi hits and generating over Rs 50 lakh for treating economically disadvantaged patients suffering from burns, cleft lip, cancer and neurological disorders with their Life Enrichment Through Science, Arts and Charity Trust (Let’s Act).
Bokil has provided space for the practise sessions in his nursing home and its gate is kept open on Tuesday and Friday nights for practice sessions.
Breast surgeon Shekhar Kulkarni is directing the orchestra in one such session. “Where is Dr Hridaynath Lad? You need to sing your Marathi folk song, it’s always a hit,” he says. “Melody is in Gsharp”, Bokil yells, as homoeopath Dr Tejas Joshi adjusts the tempo on the keyboard.
Each of them has had a tiring day at work but they are preparing for the musical programme at Bal Gandharva Rang Mandir on June 19 to raise funds for treating epileptic patients, says Singh, a percussionist and one of the founder–doctors of Let’s Act that now has over 25 members.
Most doctors are alumni of Pune’s B J Medical College who came together in 2001 to relive their college days and to set up a music group for charity. The doctors’ orchestra has had the city’s pulse racing with its rendition of old Hindi numbers. “Actors Amol Palekar and Nana Patekar could not stop praising us,” recalls Kulkarni, who was also nominated for the best actor’s prize for Marathi film Nital. At the practice session, the doctor–musicians are debating about which song would strike an immediate chord with the audience. “I’ll try to sing again,” radiologist Dr Supriya Gadekar says, worried about her sore throat. An expert in obstetric ultrasonography, Gadekar is the founder–trustee of Lets Act and was recently awarded the Zee Gaurav Puraskar for best female singer in Maharashtra.
“We’ll get it right, even if it means staying awake well past midnight and practising,” says Bokil.
Over the years, the doctors’ or chestra has also welcomed new entrants from the medical profession.
Says Hoshing, a vocalist, “I had participated in a singing competition for doctors and medical students and learnt about this doctors’ orchestra there. I decided to join them and it’s a pleasure to be a part of the group and sing to my heart’s content.”
“We have given over 125 performances –at conferences, Army Day celebrations or during the B J Medical College’s golden jubilee year. And we hope to many more,” says Singh.