Biopic on Subhash Mukhopadhyay, the Forgotten Hero of IVF

Director Kamaleshwar Mukherjee is all set to make a biopic on Subhash Mukhopadhyay, the Bengali physician who created India’s first and the world’s second child through the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) method. The film will be made in Hindi.

Back in 1978, Mukhopadhyay created Durga (parental name Kanupriya Agarwal), 67 days after the world’s first IVF child was born in the UK. He was, however, not allowed to share his achievements before the international scientific community. Worse still, he was widely ridiculed by the administration and other fellow doctors and was transferred from one government hospital to another to silence his achievements. A dejected Mukhopadhyay ended his life on 19 June 1981.

The biopic, according to sources, is likely to be bankrolled by producer-director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s production house. TC Kumar of the Indian Council for Medical Research was credited with the achievement for creating India’s first IVF child Buri on 16 August 1986. Later in 1997, Kumar went to attend a seminar of the Indian Science Congress Association in Kolkata, where all papers and documents related to Mukhopadhyay’s research were handed over to him.  Kumar scrutinized the papers and was convinced about Mukhopadhyay’s achievement. He took the initiative to credit Mukhopadhyay as the inventor of the IVF in India and suggested the government to make necessary changes in the records.

Durga, now a marketing professional at a multinational company in New Delhi, appeared before the media on her 25th birthday to disclose her identity and credited Mukhopadhyay for her birth. Mukhopadhyay’s life and work had earlier inspired director Tapan Sinha to make Ek Doctor Ki Maut (1990), based on author Ramapada Chowdhury’s story Abhimanyu. The film had Pankaj Kapoor playing a doctor who invents a leprosy vaccine but is subsequently harassed by the authorities and peers to demean his achievements. The film won Sinha a National Award for the best director.

Sources revealed that the Subhash Mukhopadhyay biopic will be different from Sinha’s film. It will be based on papers and other archival material on Mukhopadhyay. The film will take real names. It will show the harassment, ridicule, and reprimand faced by Mukhopadhyay for his discovery, and the final recognition that came 16 years after his death.

The film has been written by Neel Mohanty and will be shot in and around Kolkata.

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