Dr Kafeel Khan, whose name surfaced in the 2017 Gorakhpur encephalitis deaths case, has expressed gratitude to superstar Shah Rukh Khan for shedding light on the tragic incident through his blockbuster film `Jawan`. Taking to microblogging site X, Dr Kafeel Khan said he has been trying to get in touch with the superstar for a while to convey his deep appreciation for his “extraordinary commitment to using cinema as a means to address critical socio-political issues”.
“The movie`s poignant portrayal of the tragic Gorakhpur Encephalitis incident has left an indelible mark on my heart. As someone who has had a personal connection with the incident and its aftermath, I was profoundly moved by your decision to bring this story to the screen,” he wrote in a letter addressed to the actor that he posted on X.
`Jawan`, headlined by SRK and released on September 7, features a subplot involving actor Sanya Malhotra, who plays a doctor struggling to arrange oxygen supply at a government hospital when a number of children are admitted due to high fever. But the children die and the doctor is held responsible for their deaths and jailed.
Unfortunately, I wasn`t able to obtain your email address, @iamsrk sir .
Consequently, I sent the letter by post, but that also showing in transit even after many days .Therefore posting it here 🙏🏾
The Honourable Mr. Shah Rukh Khan
Indian actor and film producer
— Dr Kafeel Khan (@drkafeelkhan) October 5, 2023
Viewers noticed a similarity between the sub-plot and the case of Dr Kafeel Khan, who was jailed for dereliction of duty after 63 children died of acute encephalitis syndrome at Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College in Gorakhpur. A government inquiry later cleared him of these charges.
Dr Kafeel Khan said though `Jawan` is a work of fiction, the parallels it draws to the Gorakhpur tragedy serve as a “powerful reminder of the systemic failures, apathy, and, most importantly, the innocent lives lost”.
“It underscores the urgent need for accountability within our healthcare system. The character portrayed by @sanyamalhotra07 (as Dr Eeram Khan) although not directly referencing me, encapsulated the experiences I faced.”
“It was heartening to witness the real culprit of `The Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy`, got caught, though sadly in real life the real culprits are roaming free, me still struggling to get my job back, and those 63 parents who lost their little ones still waiting for justice,” he added. Dr Kafeel Khan also highlighted his book “The Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy” and believes “a part of the movie`s plot resonates with the events detailed” in the book.
“If given the opportunity, I would be immensely honored to meet you and the talented director @Atlee_dir, as well as other members of the film`s crew, to express my gratitude personally.
“I also want to assure you that my sanctification, devotion, and determination towards serving my countrymen would continue undeterred. Thank you once again for being a beacon of hope,” he added.
`Jawan`, a high-octane action thriller directed by Tamil filmmaker Atlee, is a father-son story that addresses social and political issues such as government apathy, corruption, farmers` suicides, and a failing healthcare system.
After the film`s release, Kafeel Khan had posted on X that though he had not seen the movie, he was flooded with messages regarding the film.
“I haven`t seen `Jawan`, but people have been messaging me saying they thought about me after watching Dr Irrum`s character. There is a lot of difference between the film world and real life. The culprits in the army, health minister etc. get punished. But here I and those 81 families are still wandering for justice… Thank you @iamsrk sir and @Atlee_dir sir for raising the social issue,” he had posted.
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