A legendary life
RUSTOM P Soonawala’s 86 years have had no effect on his boundless energy (he has just returned from inaugurating and working in hospitals in Dubai, Delhi, Kolkata and Jaipur) and healthy crop that remains untouched by colouring agents, but in the stories of miracles and chapters in medical history he continues to write. From royalty (he operated upon the late Gayatri Devi) to Bollywood royalty, (Bachhans, Kapoors) almost every family has been touched by the Padmashri awardee’s magic hands. And now, Rashmi Uday Singh is capturing the life and times of the much loved and respected medical practitioner in a book.
Over the years Singh has been interviewing Dr Soonawala – in the course of her 15 years of health column writing and also her 52-episode TV show on DDMetro. In between putting together her columns and the food guides, Singh has been chasing the good doctor (even to Mykonos where this photo was shot) for the material. In the making for the five years now, the biography, commissioned by a leading publisher, is almost ready for submission. “It is not just the A-listers, Dr Soonawala has been a god to countless ordinary folks as well,” points out Singh, adding with a laugh,
“He has been inside my stomach so many times that I said I wanted to be inside his head!” From explaining the advent of sonography through the case study of actress Mumtaz to stumbling upon a cornerstone that links the Gateway of India and the Wadia Hospital (where he teaches) through architect George Wittet, Singh says she has been rediscovering her city while working on the biography. “It is not a hagiography,” she insists, “but it is as much a story of Bombay, its people and medical history as it is about the legend of a man.” We could not agree more.