110 years ago, on this very day, Ashok Kumar, one of the iconic legends of Indian cinema, was born in Bhagalpur, Bihar. He grew up in a family of lawyers but chose to dabble in films. And then the rest was history. In his glorious career, he played diverse roles with perfection and even introduced natural acting to Hindi cinema.
On this momentous day, we’d like to share an interesting aspect of his life that not many know about. Dadamoni, as he was affectionately called, was a practising homeopath, although he didn’t have a medical degree. Journalist and author Roshmila Bhattacharya has written about this trivia in her book ‘Matinee Men’.
Roshmila writes that it all started when Ashok Kumar was shooting for Naaz (1954) in London in 1954. His wife, Shobha Devi, complained of breathing troubles while they were on the way. The couple immediately rushed to a specialist and it came to light that one of her lungs was blocked. When they returned to India, they went for surgery but it led to her extreme weight loss.
A concerned Ashok Kumar then met a homeopath in Bangalore. Under his treatment, Shobha Devi recovered. Dadamoni was so impressed by the doctor that he asked him to teach him about this system of medicine. The doctor told him, however, to spend a year learning anatomy and physiology. But Ashok Kumar studied these subjects in just a fortnight. The doctor was impressed by Ashok Kumar’s intellect and dedication and he made him his student.
Sometime later, Ashok Kumar’s homeopathic lessons came to the rescue of a young girl. This girl was suffering from polio and her left leg had developed gangrene. A top surgeon had told her parents that her leg will have to be amputated. They approached Dadamoni in desperation. He tried four medicines on her and by his own admission; he doesn’t know for sure which worked! But after six months, she was completely cured and lost only half a toe!
As news of his knowledge spread, Ashok Kumar began to cure not just his colleagues but even strangers for cold, cough, aches, pains etc. Roshmila Bhattacharya mentions that Rati Agnihotri told her that Ashok Kumar helped her too. During the filming of Tawaif (1985), Dadamoni realized that Rati was forever tired and drained as she was working for eighteen hours without any holidays. He prescribed her some pills and Rati Agnihotri exclaims that “those pills worked their magic on me”.
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