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How we failed the creator of India’s first test tube baby!

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He not only discovered the first invitro fertilization technique of India, under him the first test tube baby of India Durga was born in 1978. But Dr Subhash Mukhopadhyay of Kolkata never got his due recognition. On the contrary his feat was ridiculed at by his own colleagues, he was ostracized and finally out of frustration he committed suicide. Many decades later, the world recognized him to be not just India’s but one of the pioneers of invitro technique in the world. For all of us who have seen Tapan Sinha’s Ek Doctor Ki Maut, the 1990 award-winning film are acquainted with the sad fate of a man who if born in any other nation would have been treated like a hero.The film depicted the ostracism, bureaucratic negligence, reprimand and insult of a doctor and his research, instead of due recognition. However, this movie was loosely based on the life of Subhash Mukhopadhyay. This time however, director Kamaleshwar Mukherjee is coming up with a full blown biopic on the untold and incredible tale of this doctor.

Incidentally, Durga was born under Dr Mukhopadhyay just 67 days after the first test tube baby was born in England, which was considered to be the first in the world. Thus Dr Mukhopadhyay was the Bengali doctor who created the first test tube baby of India and the second in the world. However, almost the entire medical fraternity of Kolkata were after his life and not just mocked and ridiculed his claims, but drove him to commit suicide. It was only after Dr TC Anand Kumar, who was earlier recognized as creating the first test tube baby in India in 1986 announced and recognized at the Indian Science Congress that it was indeed Dr Subhash Mukhopadhyay who should get the credit, that the world learnt of the story. 

Though the director is tight-lipped about the project, it is believed this Hindi biopic’s approach will be very different from Ek Doctor Ki Maut. Since it is a biopic it will take real names and also show how the technique used by Dr Mukhopadhyay was not just path-breaking, but is still used for invitro in the modern medical science. He had even developed a technique of embryo freezing to avoid egg wastage. This was far ahead of his times. Unfortunately, in the ‘70s none of his colleagues had the acumen to even understand the science used behind this technique. Professional jealousy was so rampant that the doctor who should have been hailed for his discovery was instead transferred from one government hospital to another and finally shunted to the Regional Institute of Opthalmology in Kolkata in 1981. The hospital did not even have a physiology department and Dr Mukhopadhyay was so dejected and frustrated that he took his own life a few weeks later.

Surprisingly, even later governments of Bengal or even India did not give this doctor his due recognition. We just hope Kamaleshwar Mukherjee who is a doctor himself, will do justice to the biopic and bring the untold story of this incredible doctor to life.