The idea of doing a series in an Indian Hospital came from Paul Roy. I decided to join him when he selected Narayana Hrudyalaya for this. I always believed in the business model of Dr. Devi Shetty and wanted to do at least one film explaining this model. So here came my opportunity.
We shot in Bangalore and around it for almost five months not giving single day a miss. Everyday we were following someone. Firstly we focused on Narayana and Devi Shetty. Most of our first month shoot happened in the hospital itself. But then we started following our characters to their homes and villages. Baby Hatesam was the first one we zeroed on. He was unique not because of the kind of disease he had got. But because his parents were told by their relatives that it is easier to produce another baby than getting Hatesam cured. Although his parents chose to ignore their advice and stood with Hatesam, they were always in a dilemma about how far and how much. And perhaps it was not just them. Millions of Indians live with same sort of dilemma every day, where they have to choose between their survival and whom to survive with.
After coming back everyday from shoot, we all used to sit in the garden of Ramee hotel at Attibele (this is where the crew stayed) for some drinks and unwind. And at that time usually hospital and its people will automatically become our most favorite topic. Most of our jokes will surround around Laxmi, Dr. Rajgopalan, Dr. Krishna, trainee doctors and nurses. That is when I realized that hospital itself can evolve as a character and people working there can represent it. We decided to follow these characters and today spread through all six episodes they helped tremendously to make this series a huge success.
As always choosing characters were the most difficult thing. It happened sometime that we followed someone extensively and then dropped him/her because it was not exciting enough. Slowly we developed a method. We started doing a small screen test (just asking questions about his/her personal life) kind of thing if we decide to follow someone. Then we will watch his/her footage many times back in our hotel and take a final call.
We mostly shot this entire series in reality show style. We followed our character almost everywhere. On an average we were shooting almost 3-4 hours a day. But I will act like butcher every evening while sitting on edit table. I was keeping only what I was very sure to use. Rest were deleted immediately. That helped us immensely in final edit.
I spent almost a year doing this series. It was one of the most beautiful years I ever had perhaps. I saw life and death almost on a daily basis from very close distance and had chance to shoot them most often. Life has definitely taken a positive turn since then and have started believing in god and his plans little more than ever…thanks to Dr. Shetty…ha!