An increasing number of medical professionals have been flagging unscientific representation of facts related to medical field and treatment of diseases in Malayalam films in recent times.
Now, the Kerala chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has intervened in the issue, requesting the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to take the opinion of a medical advisory committee before certifying films depicting medical issues.
The IMA has, in a letter to the CBFC as well as the Culture Minister, requested to constitute such an advisory committee consisting of experts from the medical field, as a large number of people are often misled by such messages in films, which often have no scientific basis.
The letter specifically cites two much-appreciated films from recent times, ‘Joseph’ and ‘Trance’.
In ‘Joseph’, directed by M. Padmakumar, the narrative revolves around a retired police officer investigating the death of his former wife, and uncovering an organ harvesting racket. According to the letter, people were discouraged from signing up for organ donation.
In the case of ‘Trance’, released two weeks ago , the IMA said that the movie had certain sequences which made misleading comments on psychiatric and psychotropic, leading to concerns among patients.
“Since cinema is a very powerful medium, what is being said through it reaches a lot of people, creating the kind of impact we cannot imagine of. For instance, in the case of ‘Joseph’, the number of organ donations came almost to a standstill in 2019, after the movie was released. This was at a time when there were more than 3,000 patients waiting for various organs. Till then, we were making immense progress in organ donation. After this dip, we had to organise a lot of awareness campaigns to dispel fears regarding organ donation, which the government is overseeing using stringent norms,” says P. Gopikumr, State Secretary of IMA.
He says that after the release of ‘Trance’, some psychiatrists reported their patients requesting them to change their medications, as the movie had specifically named some of these medicines as causing brain damage and other serious problems.
Social media posts
The movie had led to posts from several doctors and psychiatrists in social media over the past few days, countering some of the claims made in the movie.
“What if some one with severe depression were to commit suicide because someone told him about what’s mentioned in the movie about psychiatric drugs? What if he himself watched the movie and decided to stop his medications without consulting his doctor? Being an ardent movie buff myself, it hurts me to say that malayalam cinema needs to start researching more and may even discuss with professionals and make all movies technically sound,” posted Samin Sameed, a doctor, in Facebook.
Mr. Gopikumar says that more films on scientific and medical subjects should come in Malayalam films to make people aware, but these should be factually accurate.