Vinay Virmani stars (and has also written the story) in the latest film co-produced by Salman Khan called Dr. Cabbie, which is about an Indian doctor-turned-cab driver in Toronto who starts a mobile clinic in his cab. Minority-Review’s Canada correspondent Swati Sharan brings you highlights from our interview with him.
1) So how did you come up with the story?
Well, we always hear of doctors driving cabs or engineers or lawyers doing security work. It’s the story of the professional immigrant who can’t do whatever he’s meant to do. I was in a cab one night and I met a cabbie who is actually a doctor. Through that cab ride, I was basically listening to his story. I was being educated on the challenges being faced by those in the medical profession when they decide to move to another country. In this case, Canada. And I was really inspired by the story. It was really heart breaking. All this man wanted to do his whole life was be a doctor. His father was a doctor. His grandfather was a doctor. And yet in his naiveté, he immigrated. His degree was not recognised here. They couldn’t find him a medical residency and that wait just became so long and frustrating that he obviously had to make ends meet and today he is driving a cab. So that really inspired and moved me.
And I am always a big fan of stories that are about the underdog; about someone who has faced a type of rejection or hardship but prevails. So I wanted to tell a story about a guy who’s going through something similar but realises that as a doctor, he has certain obligations. And that people here need a family doctor. They need medical care. And if he has to provide that care, he will do it regardless of whether it’s in a cab or a medical clinic. He’s going to do what he set out to do. So that was sort of the birth of the idea.
2) Now this is one person’s story but did you do some research?
Ya. Absolutely. I spoke to people and educated myself. Why was it that these people were facing this type of problem? Why are they being sidelined? How do they re-educate themselves? So I had to understand the whole process of what the bureaucracy is. What is the red tape in the system? Because it was very important for us to talk about it in the film and shed light on that. These are the reasons why international medical graduates are on the sidelines or are subjected to this waiting period. I had to understand that whole process and even go into the history of it. Because it is an issue that deserves a lot of respect, a lot of integrity. And it can’t be taken lightly. Because the film is a comedy, I had to make sure we really give weight to the issue first to set it up effectively.
3) I guess that the story of the doctor opening a mobile clinic in a cab is a dig at the health care system where they complain about doctor shortages yet so many skills are wasted.
Yes you are right. I meet so many people from all parts of this country who say we can’t find a family doctor. We have an emergency. We’re not feeling well. We have to go to the hospital, which is then creating more wait times and is clogging up the emergency room or walk in clinics or family doctors can’t take any more patients. And yet, you have smaller areas like Sudbury or Thunderbay where people have to drive hours to see a doctor. So you’re right. The whole inspiration is a guy who is a doctor and because he hops on a flight across the world, does that not make him a doctor anymore? So does that mean that his skills or his education or his knowledge or his experience doesn’t count? Does that mean that he has to start from zero? So these are some of the questions we have tried to raise.
4) What’s it like having girl fans swarming to you?
When it happens, I’ll let you know!
5) What are you saying…?
To be honest, the uncles like me more.
The uncles or the aunties like me more because they say, ‘You’re like our son!’ They give me a lot of love and the uncles have been calling me Speedy Singh for many years. And now they’re calling me Dr. Cabbie. Although it’s very nice but the aunties say, ‘You’re like our son beta and we wish you all the best.’ I wish a girl would say ‘Hey y’know will you be my boyfriend or will you go out with me?’ I’m one of the shyest people you will ever meet. I have no game whatever when it comes to women.
Below are questions that are a play on songs:
All I Need Is…
What 4 Botal Vodka Would Do to You…
4 Botal Vodka would make me very sick actually and I would need a doctor.
Party To Banti Hai par kiske saath?
Dr. Cabbie ke saath.
If Leela didn’t choose Ram, whom should she choose?
Leela should choose Kunal Nayyar’s character Tony in our film because Tony is so funny and amazing in this movie and he really brings that spark to anybody whom he’s with.
Leading lady you would like to work with…
From Hollywood, Emma Stone. She’s funny and quirky. From Bollywood, Anushka Sharma. She’s very spontaneous and witty.
Bollywood dance number you would dance to with Jennifer Aniston if life gave you the chance…
Tu Meri Dal Makhani. It’s a new way to compliment a woman. My friend Manj made the song. Why Dal Makhani? It’s creamy, spicy and hot. All things that women are. I think it’s going to become the new way to compliment your girlfriend or wife.