HEALTHCARE OR ENTERTAINMENT FIRST?

Every Goan and every Indian make up your mind in 2024…

What a ridiculous choice when old is gold. The old GMC heritage complex was once the prestigious Escola Medico Cirurgica da Goa established in 1842, renamed as old Goa Medical College in 1963, it is the oldest medical college in Asia if anyone is interested in history of healthcare today! The magnificent complex of buildings is now tarted up annually for IFFI entertainment (and of course the INOX multiplex is here). No enlightened country would so insult a heritage building like this!

THIS is to say I love the International Film Festival of India coming to Goa every November and have grown up appreciating the best films of the world on the big screen. Books, films and travelling are the three things which make for the best possible all-round education to understand the world we live in surely! But this is to say through happy non-digital times and in recent years through unhappy digital times (pardon me, I’m all of 74 going on…) and please forgive me!
I am of the generation for whom it would be an unpardonably disgraceful act to see a classic of old on any damned small screen! Twenty years since IFFI came home to Goa the fact remains that Goa is not in love with IFFI or at least most Goans are convinced that healthcare should come before entertainment even if it is the smallest state of the country with the biggest per capita income.
And so what if the country’s debonair Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur says a lot of things like IFFI is the 14th biggest international film festival in the world and now film producers may avail of loans up to Rs30 crore to make films with Indian collaborations? He justifies it by saying that the entertainment industry has grown threefold over the last 20 years on its own steam – so why the government of India finance entertainment! Is entertainment a priority even if it spins jobs for film technicians and offers big money to a few top brass in the industry who call the shots? Money is rolling in for the entertainment industry for the haves of cinema world anyway!
It’s not the role of a government in a democracy to play at being broker or middle man or doing business when so many other areas of infrastructural development must come first surely? Take healthcare for example – I have no problems with private funding for raising a film city for IFFI future entertainment in Goa. But I have problems with public money being spent on the annual tarting up of the grand heritage precincts of the old GMC and hospital in capital city Panaji for entertainment.
You’d think with the kind of medical history the Old GMC complex has not just in Goa but in India and south Asia and south east Asia…it should be put to better use such as a medical museum, a modern AYUSH-styled sanatorium and hospital for senior citizens, some useful facility of a healthful nature and character. The medical fraternity should come together to re-claim the Old GMC premises in Panaji for medical purposes given the distinguished history attached to it, why are they not doing it?
Convincing the BJP’s Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant to fast forward Film City plans out at the Bambolim plateau, but to please develop the old GMC building complex for healthcare needs for the people of Goa? Every year as an ardent IFFIgoer for the last 20 years I have the same bleak thoughts. Why can’t the old GMC building complex be more gainfully restored as a healthcare facility than as an entertainment venue with red carpets rolling and the rest of the filmi paraphernalia dedicated to what?
It is a gross travesty of usage and an insult to the history of healthcare to use the old GMC and hospital complex for the International Film Festival of India in Goa! How can a government be so insensitive to priority of needs and sensibility of usage when it comes to such grand heritage structures?
TO BE honest I have been talking to the friendly and approachable Delilah Lobo who’s part of the “women power” (quoting CM Dr Pramod Sawant!) as Vice-Chairperson of the ESG on the subject of the old GMC being used for healthcare services instead of IFFI entertainment year after year after year. She agreed but smiled and patted me on the cheek indulgently as if that would be an impossible thing to swing just yet! Just once in this matter I wish money did not have to call the shots. The tragedy of the now not so modern state of India is that we have monetised our lives so much that we dare not even dream of a better quality of life for everyone…and yet the cinema industry is all about the dreams and qualitatively better aspirations for the people of a country!
Where surely it is not entertainment which must lead us by the tinkling sound of hard cash? In this respect I urge you to see the stupendous film “Gandhi Talks” which saw its gala premiere at this year’s IFFI, this is producer Kishor Pandurang Belekar’s silent black comedy and tragedy of what happens to a society when it is addicted to monetising everything in life, hard ware and software or so to speak. Indian films tend to err on the side of being self-indulgent but this one reminded me a little of Guru Dutt’s incomparable vintage film “Pyaasa”…the iconic Vijay Sethupathy plays the main role, supported by Aditi Rao Hydri, Arvind Swamy and Siddharth Jaidhav. We have a young, unemployed graduate Mahadev struggling to earn a living when he crosses paths with a crooked businessman and a petty thief.
This is a take-off on the silent films of old but it’s very eloquent and a musical with touches of music maestro A R Rahman – in this “film of silence” the rot in our modern-day souls sings loudly like a testimony to our times. It’s a grand riot of a film with insights into modern-day India, one may laugh or cry as one pleases. It definitely brings Mahatma Gandhi alive for our times anew, it’s a most interesting film starring the iconic Vijay Sethupathy, supported by Aditi Rao Hydri, Arvind Swamy, Siddharth Jadhav. Must see film and I feel like if I see one good film a day at IFFI my day is made! Definitely, we must see the best cinema of the world to be educated, inspired, and not least of all entertained in the better sense of the word. But not at the expense of healthcare, healthcare must come first, I beg the powers-that-be to move ESG/IFFI out of the old GMC heritage complex and raze INOX multiplex in favour of an up-to-date OPD, sanatorium-cum-hospice, all for senior citizens in Goa!
On that optimistic note it’s avjo, selamat datang, poiteverem, au revoir, hasta la vista and vachun yeta here for now.

—Mme Butterfly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ 34 = 43