Tag Archives: COVID19

COVID19: DRDO’s 2-Deoxy-D-Glucose drug decoded

Dr Rahul Pandit talks about the drug that was approved for emergency use as an adjunct therapy in moderate to severe COVID19 patients by the Drugs Controller General of India early this month.

Mumbai, May 17, 2021: Adding another ammo to our battle against COVID19, the Government of India has introduced a promising anti-COVID19 drug called 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG). The drug has been developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a lab of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad. The drug was approved for emergency use as an adjunct therapy in moderate to severe COVID19 patients by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) early this month.

WHAT IS 2-DEOXY-D-GLUCOSE (2-DG)? 2-Deoxy-D-Glucose drug has historically been extensively tested for treating Cancer but is so far an unapproved drug. However, for COVID19, the drug shows promise. The drug comes in powder form in a sachet, which is taken orally by dissolving it in water. It accumulates in the virus-infected cells and prevents virus growth by stopping viral synthesis and energy production. Its selective accumulation in virally infected cells makes this drug unique. The Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a lab of the DRDO, in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad, has been studying this drug in the context of radiation therapy for cancer.

The primary mechanism of the drug involves inhibiting glycolysis or one of how cells break down glucose for energy. While used to starve and kill cancer cells, this approach could also work in inhibiting virus cells too that were dependent on glycolysis for replication. When the pandemic broke out in India, INMAS, DRDO, and DRL switched their effort to explore the possibilities to use this drug to defeat COVID19. Tests at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, last year indicated that the drug demonstrably killed virus cells after which it progressed to trials in people. 

2-DEOXY-D-GLUCOSE DRUG CLINICAL TRIAL: GATHERING CLINICAL EVIDENCE AND EFFICACY. In April 2020, INMAS started experimental examinations in Hyderabad with the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB). After which, the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) and the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) jointly granted permission for Phase-2 trials in May 2020. Between May to October 2020, the institute started initial trials on how COVID19 patients would respond to the drug. The drug worked well with no side effects, and the patients recovered quickly. Further on, the Phase 3 clinical trial was conducted between November 2020-March 2021 in Delhi, UP, Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. The results were favourable.

THE EFFICACY FACTOR: Clinical trial results have shown that this molecule helps in faster recovery of hospitalised patients and reduces supplemental oxygen dependence. The drug will be of immense benefit to the people suffering from COVID19. As per clinical data for efffficacy trends, the patients treated with the 2-DG drug showed faster symptomatic cure than Standard of Care (SoC) on various endpoints. A significantly higher proportion of patients improved symptomatically and became free from supplemental oxygen dependence (42% vs 31%) by day-3 compared to SoC, indicating an early relief from Oxygen therapy/dependence.

ACTING WITH RESPONSIBILITY: This drug comes when our nation is grappling to cope with the impact of the devastating second wave of COVID19, which has stressed our infrastructure and resources to its limit. I see a ray of hope, that with the availability of this drug, we may be able to reduce the burden of COVID19 and save as many lives as possible. Having said that, precaution is a must. No COVID19 medication should be taken without a doctor’s prescription. Moreover, hoarding drugs is a crime, and as responsible citizens of the nation, we must ensure that these medicines should be available and accessible to those who need it.

(Dr Rahul Pandit is Director-Critical Care, Fortis Hospitals Mumbai & Member of Maharashtra’s COVID Taskforce)

Dealing with COVID stress is not a child’s play

Dr Jesal Sheth tells how parents can chip in and help their children bust it.

New Delhi, April 1, 2021: The COVID19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown generated a lot of fear and stress across all age groups. Children usually thrive under predictable conditions, but the pandemic’s disruption greatly impacted them physically and emotionally. Online schooling, social isolation, lack of interactions with their friends, lack of physical sports and parental angst have aggravated their mental and emotional wellbeing. Children and adolscents have developed fear, anxiety, depression, and boredom. While most parents were involved in dealing with the pandemic’s uncertainty and putting all efforts to keep their family safe and sustainable, the emotional needss and mental health of children were somehow ignored.

THE IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC ON CHILDREN: The pandemic has changed the way children typically grow, learn, play, behave, interact, and manage emotions. Children have been observed to have conduct problems, peer problems, externalizing problems, and general psychological distress. When compared with children who did not exercise, children with psychical activity had lower hyperactivity-inattention and less prosocial behavior problems.

Moreover, from a more emotional perspective, they have a lot going around in their head, and the biggest worry for them is whether or not they will see their friends in school or get sick. The combined effect between lifestyle changes and psychosocial stress caused by home confinement perhaps aggravates children’s behavioural problems.

In the long run, this can lead to an emotional breakdown among children, and the same may lead to these children resisting to return to school post-lockdown. This can happen primarily because children have lost their pre-lockdown routines and the loss of touch with their peers and mentors. In addition to this, the lockdown-related constraints can have a long-term negative effect on their overall psychological wellbeing.

SO, HOW DO WE TACKLE THIS? Here’s how you can help children cope with COVID-related stress;

  • Address fears: Anxiety and emotional depression can be tackled by parents to some extent by addressing fears of children, talking about problems and possible solutions from the child’s perspective.
  • Spend time with grandparents: Children who have grandparents can spend some quality time with them, listen to stories and tell them stories. Talking to them will help.
  • Follow a routine: Parents can maintain some routines even if confined at home. It is always good if parents and children can plan some activities together. Parents should also plan their children’s tasks one at a time, involve them in various home activities, educate them about following hygiene habits and social distancing.
  • Play games: Engage in indoor play and creative activities. In addition to these activities, children can be advised to be involved in household chores and understand their social responsibilities.
  • Organise virtual play dates: To keep them in touch with friends and classmates, plan a virtual party and playdates.
  • Discuss issues: Parents should pay more attention to the emotional wellbeing of the child. Keep emphasizing COVID19 measures like wearing a mask, social distancing, and frequent hand washing, as the pandemic is not over yet. Also, children should be encouraged to socialize with their friends and classmates through digital forums under the parent’s supervision.

(Dr Jesal Sheth is Senior Consultant-Paediatrician, Fortis Hospital, Mulund; Cover image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Do not ignore symptoms of tuberculosis! It’s curable.

World TB Day 2021: Tuberculosis kills more number of people in India every year than the lives COVID19 has claimed over the past 12 months? Today, all we need is a surge in our actions to reduce the TB burden, tells Dr Anshu Punjabi.  

New Delhi, March 24, 2021: In the past year, the COVID19 virus grabbed much of our attention. The collateral damage that it caused in one year is very unimaginable. But did you know, Tuberculosis (TB) kills a more significant number of people in India every year than the lives COVID19 has claimed over the past 12months?

Tuberculosis continues to inflict a large quantum of socioeconomic cost on our nation. Although TB has been curable and our government has made great strides to improve diagnosis and drug delivery mechanisms, our war with this deadly disease exists. All we need today is a surge in our actions to reduce the TB burden intensely. But how is that possible?

Well, the best approach to this is to sensitize people with the growing burden of TB and empower them enough to identify symptoms, report it early, undergo timely diagnosis, and complete adherence to treatment. So, first things first.

WHAT IS TUBERCULOSIS AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT US? TB is an infection caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis and spreads through the air from one person to another when an infected person coughs, sneezes or laughs. Even though the bacteria travel easily, it’s not easy to be infected by TB. Most often, it’s spread between family members, close friends, and people who live or work together. TB most commonly affects the lungs, but it can affect other parts of the body as well, like lymph glands, abdomen, spine, joints, etc.

There are two kinds of tuberculosis (TB) infections — latent TB and active TB disease.

WHAT IS LATENT TB? In most healthy people, the body’s natural immune system kills the bacteria and there are no symptoms. Sometimes, the immune system cannot kill the bacteria but manages to prevent it from spreading in the body. You will not have any symptoms, but the bacteria will remain in your body – this is known as Latent TB. People with Latent TB are not infectious to others, and do not feel ill. It is usually happens to children. Sometimes, this dormant TB gets activated when the body’s immune system is extremely low, say in the case of HIV, cancer, diabetes, etc.

This may occur like a normal fever and can go unnoticed. In India, we do not treat latent TB, as most people would have been exposed to the bacteria at some point in time. Moreover, there is no good evidence that all these people will develop active TB disease in the future, or that treating Latent TB will prevent further reinfection.

WHAT IS AN ACTIVE TB? When the immune system is unable to kill or contain the bacteria, Active TB develops. The lungs’ Active TB disease is contagious, which means it can be spread from one person to another. It is most often spread through the air; these bacteria may enter the air when a person with TB disease of the Lungs or throat coughs. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and get infected. People get sick from the TB bacteria that are alive and active. 

SO, WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS?

  • Being in close contact with a person with Active Lung TB disease is highly risky
  • If you are in contact with any groups known for passing on TB, such as the homeless, injection drug users, and persons with HIV/AIDS
  • If you are living or working with people who are at high risk for TB, such as those in hospitals, homeless shelters, prisons, slums, or refugee camps 

MAJOR SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS THAT YOU SHOULDN’T IGNORE:

  • A cough that lasts two-three weeks or more
  • Pain in the chest, with cough or at rest     
  • Coughing up blood or thick mucous
  • Night sweats
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Weight loss
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Fever, mainly in the evening
  • Swollen neck lymph-gland(s)

The longer people wait, the TB disease worsens. Although the stigma associated with TB has gone down significantly, people need to be alert, aware, and responsible when it comes to identifying symptoms and getting treated early. TB is treatable and curable. Treatment for drug-sensitive TB is a combination of antibiotics for six months. People with drug-resistant TB will need more extended treatment with at least 5-6 drugs under expert supervision.

(Dr Anshu Punjabi is Consultant-Pulmonologist & Sleep Medicine Expert, Fortis Hospital, Mulund; Image by Wilfried Pohnke from Pixabay

Philips India Sleep Survey 2021 reveals that Indian adults slept more during the COVID-19 pandemic

World Sleep Day 2021: The report focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sleep health as well as the increase in adoption of digital health technologies.

New Delhi, March 19, 2021: Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology, recently released the findings of the India Sleep Survey Report titled ‘Philips Global Sleep Survey 2021’. The report focuses on the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on sleep health as well as the increase in adoption of digital health technologies. Highlighting the importance of digital health technologies, 60% of the Indians said that they have used or are willing to use telehealth for sleep-related concerns.

The report highlighted that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian adults experienced new sleep challenges like difficulty falling asleep (37%), difficulty staying asleep (27%), and waking up during the night (39%).

The survey also focused on the adverse effects that sleep apnea has on patients. The study reported that 80% of patients with sleep apnea experience daytime drowsiness while only 52% of those who do not have sleep apnea experience the same. 47% of the participants also said that sleep apnea is impacting their relationships. With symptoms like unwarranted daytime sleepiness and trouble in concentrating, sleep apnea impacts productivity and overall quality of life. Sleep apnea can also lead to graver health issues including cardiac conditions, strokes, neurological disorders, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity as has been noted in widely referenced clinical research papers

Philips also announced the launch of its Care Orchestrator Sleep and Respiratory Care Management system today. The system enables clinicians and healthcare institutions to drive superior health outcomes by remotely monitoring and managing all sleep apnea and respiratory patients with a single system.

Chhitiz Kumar, Business Leader, Precision Diagnosis and Connected Care, Philips Indian Subcontinent, said “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on everyone’s lives. With everyone now adapting to the new normal, both healthcare providers and patients have a critical role to play in transforming the way healthcare is delivered. The increase in adoption of digital technologies such as telehealth for treatment of sleep related disorders from patient side is a positive change that must be welcomed and encouraged. Philips Care Orchestrator Sleep and Respiratory Care Management system is one such breakthrough solution that will enable healthcare institutions and practitioners to remotely monitor and manage all their sleep apnea and respiratory patients with a single system. As we head into the next decade, Philips is focused on designing a future where technology leveraged across the entire sleep ecosystem can help people get the most out of their lives.”

Dr. J.C. Suri, Director and Head, Department of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi and Founder, President and Chairman, Indian Sleep Disorders Association, highlighted that “sleep is an important component of our daily lives. It has profound impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. I have seen a steady improvement in awareness about sleep disorders such as sleep apnea in the last decade. However, we still have a long way to go in increasing seriousness towards diagnosing and treating this disorder. Brands like Philips and the physician community have an important role to play in this regard. While brands work on sensitizing people towards sleep apnea, it is also vital to equip physicians with the right know-how to screen, diagnose and treat sleep disorders in general and sleep apnea in particular. Only then we would be able to bring significant improvement in the sleep health of India.”

As part of its overall initiatives to combat sleep disorders and sleep apnea in particular, Philips announced in October 2020 launch of first-of-its-kind six-month online certified comprehensive Sleep Medicine Course. The course is being organized in collaboration with Academy of Pulmonary Critical Care and Sleep Medicine (APCCSM) and under the aegis of Indian Sleep Disorders Association (ISDA). Designed to augment the gap in medical education in sleep care, the inaugural batch of the course commenced on March 2, 2021 with more than 70 doctors being trained under the able guidance of Dr. J.C. Suri. Philips also launched a dedicated sleep helpline (1800 258 7678) and Home Sleep Test Solution to enhance access to care for patients suffering from sleep disorders in October 2020.

The company has also trained more than 500 sleep technicians and guided the launch of more than 850 sleep labs in the country till date.

As an industry leader and innovator in sleep and respiratory care, Philips is deeply rooted in its commitment to developing clinically proven solutions that help people take control of their sleep health. Philips aims to provide solutions that meet the growing and evolving needs of consumers and healthcare professionals alike. In line with its focus on offering quality, accessible and value-based care, the company also provides ‘No-cost EMI’ offer on its products under the Respironics range of sleep and respiratory solutions.

Key Findings of Philips India Sleep Survey 2021

  1. 67% of Indian adults say they are completely or somewhat satisfied with their sleep, and 25% say they are somewhat or entirely dissatisfied.
  2. 54% of Indian adults report that the amount of time spent fully asleep has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 18-34-year-olds are especially impacted, with 61% reporting an increase in sleep compared to 41% of 50-64-year-olds and 35% of 65+ year-olds.
  3. Since COVID-19 started, many Indian adults report new sleep challenges like difficulty falling asleep (37%), difficulty staying asleep (27%), and waking up during the night (39%).
  4. Indian adults report the following being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic:
    1. Work routine – 43%
    2. Sleep routine – 41%
    3. Ability to sleep well – 36%
    4. Stress – 50%
    5. Physical health – 35%
    6. Mental/emotional health – 47%
  5. 80% of Indian adults with sleep apnea experience daytime drowsiness, while only 52% of those who do not have sleep apnea experience daytime drowsiness.
  6. 77% of Indian adults with sleep apnea experience chronic fatigue, while only 36% of those who do not have sleep apnea experience chronic fatigue.
  7. 74% of Indian adults feel like they get enough sleep at night.
  8. Approximately 1 in 5 (19%) Indian adults experience sleep apnea.
  9. One-third (34%) of Indian adults with sleep apnea currently use sleep apnea therapy to improve their sleep.
  10. Of the Indian adults that have been tested for sleep apnea, 55% say they were tested in-home, and 34% say they were tested at a sleep lab or doctor’s office
    1. 50% received their results during an in-person visit, and 41% through a telehealth visit (video call or telephone appointment)
  11. According to Indian adults, when it came to using their phone in bed:
    1. 8% say they do not use their phone in bed.
    2. 29% say they charge their phone overnight next to their bed.
    3. 32% say they respond to texts or calls that wake them up during the night.
    4. 53% say the last thing they do before falling asleep is look at their phone.
    5. 54% say they look at their phone as soon as they wake up in the morning.
    6. 54% use their phone as an alarm clock.
    7. 58% use it for entertainment (e.g. watching videos, scrolling through social media)
  12. Of those (53%) that said their phone is the last thing they look at before falling asleep at night, 81% said this leads them to fall asleep later than they would like to.
  13. Of those that said their phone is the last thing they look at before falling asleep at night, during that time:
    1. 80% are scrolling through social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, TikTok)
    2. 78% are watching videos (e.g. YouTube, Netflix)
    3. 63% are checking email
    4. 58% are sending/receiving text messages
    5. 53% are setting their alarms
    6. 50% are looking at pictures
    7. 46% are reading news not related to the pandemic or politics
    8. 43% are reading news about the COVID-19 pandemic
    9. 39% are reading political news
  14. 22% of Indian adults say worry/stress is what most limits their ability to get good sleep, and when it comes to what contributes to this stress, the top responses were:
    1. 63% reported financial challenges, with 81% of 35-49-year-olds reporting this as their top contributor to worry/stress
    2. 59% reported the COVID-19 pandemic
    3. 56% reported work responsibilities
    4. 48% reported health (mine or family member’s)
  15. 44% of Indian adults either currently use or have used sleep trackers to improve their sleep.
  16. 40% of Indian adults have never set a bedtime/wake-up schedule to improve their sleep.
  17. 60% of Indian adults say they have used or are willing to use telehealth for sleep-related concerns.
  18. 55% of Indian adults who have used a telehealth program/talked to a healthcare specialist online about sleep-related concerns did so for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  19. 50% of Indian adults over the age of 65 do not think it is necessary to be treated for sleep apnea.
  20. Of those reporting to have sleep apnea, 47% of Indian adults believe sleep apnea is impacting their relationship(s).

(Cover image by StockSnap from Pixabay

107-year-old man becomes the oldest person in India to get COVID vaccine at Fortis Hospital

At 105, he was the oldest patient in the world to undergo Carotid Artery Stent Implantation to remove a major blockage in the artery supplying blood to the left half of his brain to prevent a major stroke and paralysis.

New Delhi, March 15, 2021: Kewal Krishan, age 107 years plus, became the oldest person in India to be vaccinated against COVID under the supervision of his cardiologist Dr Ashok Seth, Chairman, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute. Two years ago, he was the oldest patient in the world to have undergone stenting to the artery of left side of brain by Dr Ashok Seth to prevent a major brain stroke.

Dr Ashok Seth, Chairman, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, with 107-year-old Kewal Krishan while he was getting vaccinated.

Dr Ashok Seth, Chairman, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, said, “It is really a heartening moment to see that Mr Kewal Krishan has got vaccinated safely and will continue to lead a good quality of life in safety. This is important especially because two years ago Krishan started having repeated small strokes and was threatening a major stroke leading to paralysis. He had a 95% calcified left carotid artery stenosis (blockage in the main artery supplying blood to the left half of brain). The blockages were very hard, torturous and angulated. It took us two hours to treat it via a non-invasive Carotid Artery Stent Implantation. I am happy to say that he improved and that day we prevented him from having a major stroke and today he is well, lead a quality of life and therefore took the vaccine to remain well and enjoy his life with his family. He is an example for many other elderly patients to keep a positive attitude to life and wellbeing.”

Mr Anil Vinayak, Group COO, Fortis Healthcare, said, “Fortis is committed to supporting the Government in this mammoth vaccination drive. At Fortis Healthcare, we have administered more than 60,000 doses till date across 21 of our network hospitals pan India. It is extremely encouraging to see the increase in the vaccination numbers with each passing day.”

COVID19 vaccination: 20 points to keep in mind

Go ahead and get the jab for yourself and your loved ones, says Dr Rahul Pandit

New Delhi, March 13, 2021: We have entered the second phase of the world’s largest immunization program. However, several looming questions could hamper the success of this program and weaken the fight against COVID19.

Only people who have an Anaphylaxis (allergic reaction) to any of the vaccine contents, should NOT take the vaccine.

Yes, vaccination is the most effective tool to fight the COVID19 pandemic, and help us succeed in our mission to restore normalcy! Having said that, the COVID19 vaccination drive in India has seen much momentum since day one. With an enthusiastic push from the civic bodies, we are slowly but steadily approaching our target goals. After successful round of vaccination for the healthcare providers and frontline workers, we have now moved to vaccinate and protect seniors above 60 years of age, and those above 45 years with comorbidities.

Here’s a guideline to help proceed with vaccinating yourself and your loved ones:

1.       All adults should take the COVID19 vaccine and encourage others to take it as well.

2.       You should have had your meals, and be well hydrated for your vaccination.

3.       Only people who have an Anaphylaxis (allergic reaction) to any of the vaccine contents, should NOT take the vaccine.

4.       All approved vaccines including Covishield and Covaxin have:

  • 100% efficacy in preventing death due to COVID19
  • Very high efficacy against severe COVID19
  • High to moderate efficacy (60%-95%) against symptomatic COVID19
  • Poor efficacy only against asymptomatic COVID19

5.       Vaccinating the high-risk vulnerable population – above 60 yrs and above 45 yrs with co-morbidities will bring down the mortality rate to ‘very low’, as currently, this group forms almost 90% of patients who succumb to the disease. Therefore, we must encourage people in these age groups to be vaccinated.

People with previous COVID19 infection should take the vaccine only after 8-12 weeks of recovery from COVID 19.

6.       People with previous COVID19 infection should take the vaccine only after 8-12 weeks of recovery from COVID 19.

7.       A person who has received Plasma Therapy to treat a previous COVID19 infection should wait for 8-12 weeks before taking the vaccine.

8.       Vaccine is safe in patients with hypertension, diabetes, renal failure, and heart disease, amongst those who have undergone bypass, post-angiography, and those on dialysis.

9.       In pregnant women, if the benefit outweighs the risks of the vaccine, then you may take the vaccine. For example, a frontline pregnant worker should take the vaccine.

10.   There is no data on how long pregnancy should be avoided post-vaccination. However, as it is an inactivated or dead virus it should be safe after 6-8 weeks of vaccination to conceive.

People on anti-platelet agents like Aspirin and Clopidogrel
should take the vaccine without stopping their medication.

11.   Vaccine is safe amongst those with a food allergy, drug allergy (other than the vaccine components) and common allergic conditions such as asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis. But consult your doctor before enrolling yourself.

12.   People on anti-platelet agents like Aspirin and Clopidogrel should take the COVID19 vaccine without stopping their medication.

13.   Patients on blood thinners like Warfarin or newer anticoagulation agents have a small risk of injection site swelling. Patients who are on these newer agents can skip their morning dose, take the vaccine and continue the next regular dose.

14.   Patients with neurological complications like stroke, Parkinson’s, dementia should take the vaccine as it is safe for them.

15.   Patients on immunosuppressant’s (i.e. patients who’ve undergone organ transplants) of any type can safely take the vaccine. However, immune response may not be complete. Check with your doctor before enrolling.

A simple Paracetamol can be taken post-vaccination if required, and most symptoms would be well controlled.

16.   It is false that alcohol is not allowed post-vaccine or that vaccine causes impotency or that vaccine will change the DNA of a person.

17.   There are currently no trials available on children, hence vaccination for those below 18 years can be delayed for now.

18.   Patients with cancer and those undergoing Chemotherapy should consult their doctor and seek an appropriate window for vaccination between the Chemotherapy cycles. Ideally, the patient should wait for at least four weeks post-chemotherapy to take their vaccine.

19.   Fever, body ache, dizziness, headaches are common symptoms post-vaccination.

20.   A simple Paracetamol can be taken post-vaccination if required, and most symptoms would be well controlled.

Do not believe in rumours, the best way to get the right information is to speak to doctors at medical centres who are offering the COVID19 vaccination. Remember, vaccine-induced immunity is as important as herd immunity. It is the current and the only way to tackle the growing menace of the virus. Let’s all come together to fight back and end the pandemic once and for all.

(The article has been authored by Dr Rahul Pandit, Director-Critical Care, Fortis Hospitals Mumbai & Member-Maharashtra’s COVID Taskforce) 

(Images from Pixabay by Wilfried PohnkeGerd AltmannAlexandra_Koch; fernando zhiminaicela)

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चल रे बटोही सिर्फ एक गाना नहीं बल्कि प्रवासियों के अपने घर वापसी की कहानी है: अमरेंद्र शर्मा

By Shillpi A Singh

आज की ख़ास बातचीत अमरेंद्र शर्मा से जिन्हें आपने फिल्मों और टेलीविज़न में अभिनेता के रूप में देखा होगा पर क्या आप जानते हैं इन्होंने पिछले साल भोजपुरी गाने – चल रे बटोही – के गायक और निर्माता के रूप में एक नयी पहचान बना कर सब को चौंका दिया था। चलिए एक बटोही के साथ उसके सफर पर और जानिये इस अभिनेता, गायक और निर्माता के पीछे छुपे एक प्रवासी के दर्द को।

अमरेंद्र शर्मा

आप को हमनें फिल्मों और टेलीविज़न पर अभिनेता के रूप में देखा है। पिछले साल आपने दो म्यूजिक वीडियो में बतौर गायक और निर्माता के रूप में हम सब के सामने आये। इस सफर की शुरुआत कहाँ से और कैसे हुई ?

मैं बिहार के बेतिया जिले के शिकारपुर गाँव से मैट्रिक करने के बाद 1998 में पटना थिएटर करने आ गया। बिहार आर्ट थिएटर से एक्टिंग में दो साल का डिप्लोमा किया और उसी समय पंकज त्रिपाठी भईया से मिलना हुआ और उन्होंने मुझे नेशनल स्कूल ऑफ़ ड्रामा (एनएसडी) के विजय कुमार जी के मंच आर्ट ग्रुप से जोड़ लिया। फिर हमलोग कई सालों तक पूरे देश मे घूम घूम के बहुत सारे नाटक किया जिसमे फणीश्वरनाथ रेणु जी की कहानियां (पंच लाइट, रसप्रिया), हरीशंकर परसाई जी की कहानियां (ना जाने केंहि भेष में, हम बिहार में चुनाव लड़ रहे हैं) का कोलाज़ बना के, फिर रागदरबारी, जात ना पूछो साधु के, ऑफ माइस एंड मैन, बहुत सारे शोज़ किये। फिर कोलकाता में उषा गांगुली जी के रंगकर्मी रेपेट्री से जुड़ गया। वहाँ पर कोर्टमार्शल, शोभायात्रा, काशी के असी, मुक्ति, मातादीन चाँद पे, बहुत सारे शोज़ किये। उसके बाद दिल्ली साहित्य कला परिषद रेपेट्री से जुड़ गया। वँहा पर सतीश आनंद सर के साथ अन्वेषक, महानिर्वाण, चित्तरंजन त्रिपाठी जी के साथ लड़ी नज़रिया, दस दिन का अनसन (हरिशंकर परसाई जी की) सुमन कुमार जी के साथ कहानियों का मंचन किया।
दिल्ली में नाटक करते हुए मनोज बाजपेयी सर की फ़िल्म 1971 में काम करने का मौक़ा मिला, जिसमे मैं पाकिस्तानी सोल्जर की भूमिका में था। काम कुछ ख़ास नहीं था, पर मुझे मनोज जी को क़रीब से अभिनय करते देखना था, मैं उनको स्वाभिमान, दौड़, तमन्ना के समय से फॉलो करता था, जब सत्या आई तो मैं बिल्कुल बेचैन हो गया कि मुझे कैसे भी कर के एक्टर बनना है। मैंने उनकी सत्या देखी थी और शायद तभी से मुझे अभिनेता बनने की इच्छा जागी थी। स्कूल टाइम में अजय देवगन साहब का जबरदस्त फैन रहा हूँ। एक भी फ़िल्म नहीं छोड़ता था। फिर 2008 में मुम्बई आ गया। दूसरे मेरे पसन्दीदा एक्टर इरफान खान सर के साथ अपना आसमान किया। मणिरत्नम सर के साथ रावण किया। फिर मैंने फिल्मों से थोड़ी दूरी बना लिया, अच्छे काम नहीं मिल रहे थे सो मैंने टेलीविजन के तरफ़ रुख़ किया। क्राइम शोज़ में लीड रोल किये। कुछ विज्ञापनों में भी काम किया। 2018 में मुझे भोर फ़िल्म मिली, फिर 2019 में बाटला हाउस मिली। 2020 में मैंने बटोही म्यूजिक वीडियो बनाया। बटोही के बाद, छठ का गीत बनाया, उसे भी लोगों ने पसंद किया।

आप खुद को प्रवासी रचनात्मक मजदूर क्यों कहते हैं ? बटोही म्यूजिक वीडियो के पीछे क्या कहानी छुपी हुई है ?

सन 2000 में मैं पहली बार बिहार से बाहर, दिल्ली नाटक करने, अपने गाँव के कुछ लोगों के साथ पहुंचा था । वो लोग कापसहेड़ा में फैक्ट्री में काम करते थे और एक छोटे से कमरे में 7 से 8 लोग रहते थे। मैं भी उनलोगों के साथ रहने लगा, उन लोगों की स्थिति देख के मुझे बहुत बुरा लगा। मुझे बाहर इतनी बुरी स्थिति में रहना पड़ेगा, मैं कभी सपने में भी नही सोचा था, पर धीरे धीरे मैं भी उनमें ढल गया। कुछ समय बाद मैं वंहा से मंडी हाउस चला आया और अपने नाटक में मस्त हो गया। उसी समय NDTV पर रविश कुमार जी की रिपोर्ट देखी, जिसमे रविश जी मेरे ही ज़िले के प्रवासी मज़दूरों के साथ खाना खाते हुए रिपोर्टिंग कर रहे थे। उस दृश्य ने मुझे अंदर से झंझोर दिया। ख़ुद को पराजित महसूस करने लगा। पहली बार प्रवासी शब्द का अर्थ समझा, पहली बार अहसास हुआ कि मैं भी प्रवासी मज़दूर हूँ। मैं भी अपना परिवार, गाँव, समाज और जगह छोड़ कर मज़दूरी करने आया हूँ। उसके बाद मैं कलकत्ता गया, फिर मुम्बई आ गया, हर जगह उस दर्द को महसूस करता रहा।

चल रे बटोही अपन गाँव

चल रे बटोही अपन गाँव म्यूजिक वीडियो बनाने में कितना समय लगा ?

मुम्बई में संघर्ष करते वक़्त महसूस हुआ कि भोजपुरी में बहुत बुरा काम हो रहा है। भोजपुरी अश्लीलता का पर्याय बन चुका है। दूसरे राज्य के दोस्तों के बीच भोजपुरी मज़ाक की भाषा थी। बहुत बुरा लगता था। भोजपुरी में कुछ करना चाहता था पर कर नहीं पा रहा था, जिस तरह की भोजपुरी फ़िल्म बन रहीं थी कभी मन नही हुआ करने का। मैं गायक नही हूँ, पर नाटक में हमेशा गाता रहा हूँ, सो मेरा मन किया कि क्यूं न भोजपुरी में कुछ गाया जाय। प्रवासी होने का दर्द मैं मुम्बई में भी महसूस कर रहा था सो पलायन पर कुछ गाने का मन बनाया। सन 2018 की बात है, मैंने गीत लिखना शुरू किया पर पेपर पर उसको उतार नहीं पाया। फिर अपने गाँव के अभिजीत मिश्र को समझाया और कई महीनों के डिस्कस करने के बाद गीत तैयार हुआ। फिर भी मुझे गीत अधूरा लग रहा था; फिर मैं मुम्बई में राइटर डायरेक्ट आशुतोष तिवारी से मिला और बटोही का दूसरा अंतरा लिखवाया।
फिर दोस्त मनु वर्मा से डेमो म्यूजिक तैयार करवा के, फाइनेंस के लिए लोगों से मिलता रहा, पर कोई तैयार नहीं हुआ। फिर सोचा अब किसी से नही मिलूंगा, ख़ुद ही बनाऊंगा। ऐसे सोचते सोचते दो साल बीत गए। फिर लॉक डाउन में गाँव आ गया। प्रवासी मज़दूरों का संघर्ष देखा तो बहुत दुःख हुआ, ऐसा लगा बटोही इसी दिन के लिए बचा के रखा हूँ। कुछ समझ नही आ रहा था, गाँव में कोई सुविधा नहीं थी। क्या करूँ, सोचा फेसबुक पे लाइव गा देता हूँ, पर मन नहीं माना। फिर बेतिया में ही DOP चंदन से बात किया और वहीं पर लॉक डाउन में रेकॉर्डिंग कर के वीडियो भी शूट कर लिया। फिर मुम्बई एडिट के लिए फ़ाइल सेंड करने में तीन दिन लग गए, यहां पे इनटरनेट का बहुत प्रॉब्लम था। वीडियो शूट करने में टोटल चार लोग थे। ज़ीरो बज़ट में बटोही बन कर तैयार हुआ।

आपके बटोही गाने की बहुत तारीफ हुई है। क्या आपने ऐसा सोचा था ?

बटोही को जैसा मैंने सोचा था वैसे ही सबके सामने था, सभी का प्यार बहुत मिला।
मनोज बाजपेयी सर ने ट्विटर पे शेयर किया। पंकज त्रिपाठी भईया ने अपने पेज से शेयर किया।
रविश कुमार जी ने NDTV पे प्राइम टाइम में पूरा वीडियो चलाया।
निर्देशक अविनाश दास जी, अरविंद गौर जी … सब ने शेयर किया।
सबसे बड़ी बात मुझे ये लगी की दूसरे राज्य के लोगों ने भी इस भोजपुरी गीत को सराहा और पसंद किया।शायद इसलिए भी क्यूंकि इस देश में अगर बिहार का लड़का अगर महाराष्ट्र में काम करता और रहता है तो वह एक प्रवासी है। और इस तरह हम सभी प्रवासी ही हैं।

आप अभिनय और गायन के क्षेत्र में इस साल और क्या-क्या कर रहे हैं ?

दो फिल्मों – मछली और नरभक्षी – में काम किया है जिसका पोस्ट प्रोडक्शन चल रहा है। एक हॉट स्टार की वेब सीरीज कर रहा हूँ। कुछ भोजपुरी म्यूजिक वीडियो भी प्लान किया है, उसको करना है। अभी मैं किन्नर समुदाय के दुर्दशा और व्यथा पर भोजपुरी में म्यूजिक वीडियो बना रहा हूँ।