11 May, 2021

There Is No Other Way

Dr Binayak Sen resisted every effort to make this a personal story, insisting it is everyman’s

There Is No Other Way

Binayak Sen doesn’t take kindly to hero worship. When Minnie Vaid, a documentary film-maker, first hears of the now celebrated doctor jailed for sedition, she throws up her corporate job and goes in hot pursuit of her new idol. She wants to write a book and make a film on him, she tells Dr Sen. But to her dismay, the doctor refuses to cooperate. He’s just a symbol of what’s going wrong in the country, Sen tries to explain, “it has nothing to do with my personal qualities”. But the star-struck Vaid can’t be dissuaded, either by his stern silences or his snubs. Eventually, they hit on a compromise: Sen gives her a list of half-a-dozen friends and “close associates” she can interview. Thus begins Vaid’s breathless journey, stretching from the prestigious Christian Medical College in Vellore, from where Sen graduated in the ’60s, to remote villages deep in the forests of Chhattisgarh, where he ran his crowded clinics, to discover the man behind the celebrity.

Wherever Vaid travels,...

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