It’s been ten almost ten years since I wrote my review of V. Shantaram’s classic 1946 film Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani. I have thought about it recently because it is a film about a doctor who goes to China to help cure a plague, and now I am sitting in the middle of a world being menaced by a plague that started in China. This plague that started in China originated in Wuhan, the same town where Dr. Kotnis, himself, first landed – by which I mean, the real Dr. Kotnis whom the hero is based on, Dawarkanath Kotnis. That’s a curious coincidence, but that’s not the real reason that I began to think about this film again. The real reason is that it’s comforting to think about a heroic doctor who succeeded in curing a plague.
The pandemic of the novel coronavirus that we are now facing in 2020 and the consequences that have resulted so far are like nothing I have seen in my lifetime. In fact, as I watch the events unfold in my place in New York City, U.S.A. – including the cancellation of all public gatherings, the closing of schools, libraries, and cinemas, the closing of all bars and banning of all dining in restaurants (takeout only now), as well as the extreme measures of more personal “social distancing” being advised everywhere – it feels as though I am in the middle of a nightmare. I don’t think it’s possible to find a film that would be adequate in helping us to reflect upon and deal with the horror that we are all currently facing. But Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani is a nice film to watch if you have doctors and plagues on the mind and also would like to escape into a heartwarming tale that is based on some real hardships that many people struggled with in a certain place decades ago. And wherever you may be – India, the U.S., China, Italy, etc. – you can also dream about the arrival of a heroic doctor who’s going to cure this plague even if it means sacrificing his own life to do so.
Additionally, since I don’t have the energy or much spirit to write a brand new review (or compile a new list) anyway, why not return to an old one that I would like people to see again? It’s hard to believe that I wrote this old review all the way back in June of 2010, but it seems to have held up pretty well. Actually, it wasn’t holding up that well in a sense, because all the clips had disappeared. It is a good thing that I decided to look back at that old review recently, because I did not know that all the videos had been dropped, but once I found that out, I was able to replace them quickly.
So please click the title below and take a look at my old review, if you like. Maybe you have read it before, but it has been quite a while, right? Or maybe you have not seen it yet and might find it interesting (I hope):
Oh, and by the way, you can also find a couple of copies of this film on YouTube, but I’m not going to recommend a particular one, because neither of the copies that I found are in very good condition, so they are a little difficult to watch. And unfortunately, they do not have English subtitles, either. (I watched an old English-subtitled copy a decade ago, but who knows where it is now? I have seen this film in the New York Public library more recently and if anybody in New York is reading this, I would recommend looking for it there, but unfortunately, the library is going to be closed at least until the end of the month and probably for longer than that.)