Music therapy: Pune-based doctors’ orchestra performs for right causes

A consulting radiologist as the lead playback singer, an oral cancer surgeon as the bass guitarist, a paediatric surgeon as the rhythmist; the Pune-based Doctors’ Orchestra for Charity and Social service (DOCS) is still going strong 21 years after they conducted their first concert titled ‘Nostalgia’, in 2001.

With more than 200 music programmes under its belt, the 17-member team is now looking forward to another one on May 8 (World Thalassemia Day) to raise funds for thalassemia patients. Dr Nita Munshi, president of Indian Thalassemia Society’s Pune chapter, said that they had earlier also organised a musical programme with the doctors.

For these doctors, not only has music been a stress buster but also a platform to showcase their talents and raise funds for charity. The doctors’ orchestra has performed in more than 15 cities for various causes such as suicide prevention, environment protection and Tsunami relief and their trust uses the funds raised for the treatment of economically challenged patients

Dr Dasmit Singh, an adjunct professor at College of Engineering Pune, BETIC at IIT, Mumbai and professor of paediatric surgery at BJ Medical College, Pune, recalled how some of the doctors who specialise in various branches of medicine and surgery came together in 2001, the common denominator being their intense love and interest in music. “We formed a musical group with the prime objective of reliving the wonderful college days and generating whatever funds possible for charitable purposes. Approximately, more than Rs 2 crore has been raised in these years. Soon our group attracted many more talented and like-minded doctors, so the number of contributing doctors just kept growing,” said Dr Singh, who is among the founding members and the chief rhythmist of the group.

Funds raised from programmes helped set up new premises for ‘Himmat’, a Pune-based rehabilitation centre for adults with multiple neurological disorders.

“Though we are doctors, we have never compromised on the standard of our performances. While rendering the songs, we also deliver talks on social and medical issues. The general plan for every programme is an audiovisual presentation and songs, intermingled with health messages and tips for the audience,” said Dr Kamlesh Bokil, the bass guitarist, who is a cancer surgeon and one of the surgeons in the liver transplant team of Ruby Hall Clinic.

Their trust has donated medical equipment and drugs, funded operations and green-environmental projects and donated to SOFOSH (Society of Friends of Sassoon Hospital) and other organisations. Funds raised from programmes helped set up new premises for ‘Himmat’, a Pune-based rehabilitation centre for adults with multiple neurological disorders.

In 2011, the doctors held a show along with actor Naseeruddin Shah in 2011 to create awareness about environmental protection and in 2013, they conducted shows to help breast cancer patients and survivors. They were also part of the 70th birthday celebrations of Amol Palekar in 2014 where original scores were played with stalwarts like Sonu Nigam, Hariharan, Yesudas and others.

Actor Jackie Shroff and Amol Palekar were so impressed with the group’s musical talent and charity works that they once invited the doctors’ band to perform for a musical fundraising show with them based on poems of noted Marathi poet N D Mahanor. One of the founding members of the group Dr Supriya Gadekar, a consulting radiologist, was awarded the Zee Gaurav Puraskar and Maharashtra Rajya Marathi Chitrapat Puraskar for playback singing recently.

Even when Covid-19 applied brakes to their shows, they practised solo and are back to practising together now. “Many of our members are mountaineering and cycling enthusiasts and have even reached the Everest base camp and Khardungla. Some of them teach at management institutes while others are well-known artists,” lead synthesizer player Dr Tejas Joshi added.

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