Mumbai's Legendary Doc families

Apr 12, 2012, 08:41 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

When everything else seems to be going wrong in Mumbai, (read the politicos, civic authorities, drunken drivers, and even the weather) the one thing that brings us cheer is the city's great legacy of outstanding doctor families

When everything else seems to be going wrong in Mumbai, (read the politicos, civic authorities, drunken drivers, and even the weather) the one thing that brings us cheer is the city’s great legacy of outstanding doctor families.

It’s a lineage of eminent men and women related by blood who uphold the highest values of service and excellence amongst them.

And topping this list, is of course, the great Soonawala clan of urologist FP Soonawala and his sons Feroze Soonawala (gynaecologist) and Behram Soonawala (general physician in the US) and brother gynaecologist RP Soonawala, and his sons Firoze Soonawala (gynaecologist), Darius Soonawala (orthopaedic) and Zaheer Soonawala (general physician in the UK).

Interestingly, the Soonawalas have links to other great doctor families too through marriage. So Rustom Soonawala’s daughter Jenai Banaji is married into the distinguished Banaji family and FP’s son Firoze Soonawala is married to the daughter of Dr Parwez and Piloo Hakim, the highly regarded ENT specialist.

The Udwadias too are no slouches in the great doctor family trend, with the legendary brothers Farokh Udwadia (physician) and Temton Udwadia (surgeon) attending to Mumbai’s medical needs for the last three decades or more with the brilliance that they are known for.

Besides them other great Mumbai doctor clans are the Parikhs, Dr Mahendra Parikh, who is the grand old man of gynaecology and his son and daughter in-law (psychiatrist) Rajesh Parikh and (IVF specialist) Firuza Parikh, the highly regarded duo of husband and wife, who have brought honour to Jaslok hospital.

Of course, no mention of great doctor families can be complete without the inclusion of the famous clan of Kapoor ophthalmologists father and mother Dr Om Prakash and Dr Putli Kapoor and their sons Dr Shashi and Shammi also ophthalmologists and daughter in-law Supreiya who is a general physician Yes, thank God for Mumbai’s distinguished doctor families — where would the city be without them?

Love is in the air
îAfter facing a barrage of rumours and innuendo Kumar and Neerja Birla have decided to take things on their chin and put matters to rest. Towards this end, we hear, a grand and very exclusive party has been planned for this Sunday at Aer, the Four Season’s rooftop bar, to celebrate Neerja’s birthday and to which their family and friends who have stood by the couple in its time of need are being invited.

As someone close to the couple told us, “Kumar has personally vetted the guest list and overseen the arrangements; the idea is to put speculation to rest by putting their best face forward. Being such intensely private people they have been naturally upset by the stories that have been circulated, but have decided to put it all behind them. In fact, things appear really hunky-dory between them and an extended family holiday is on the cards.

So until then, the night club has been booked, the calls are being made and the champagne as they say is being chilled, unless of course, plans are changed last minute due to them being made public. Just another day in paradise.

Western Music Scene
Being ciphers on the margins of Mumbai’s western music scene, we are particularly chuffed that its trajectory is being celebrated in so many ways. Top of the pops is Naresh Ferandes’ exquisite tome “Taj Mahal Foxtrot” on India’s Jazz history and its links to Hindi cinema.

Speaking about his book and Jazz he says, “Interviewing musicians who helped re-invent Goan music in the 1960s, I learnt about African-American musicians who had come to India in the 1930s and taught local musicians how to play jazz.

When I realised that jazz tours to India by American stars such as Dave Brubeck and Duke Ellington had actually been organised by the CIA as a propaganda strategy, I decided this was all worth putting together. This was an intriguing part of Indian history that we’d forgotten about.”


Meanwhile, Rolling Stone and Rock Street Journal published by the late Amit Saigal have done a lot by way of educating and popularising local talent. Anand Mahindra has added his considerable heft with his excellent Blues Festival and now we’re holding our breath for Sidharth Bhatia’s much awaited book on the rock scene in the 70s and the redoubtable Mumbai boy and NYC based Susheel J Kurien who has spent the last three years painstakingly putting together a documentary (Finding Carlton) on India’s jazz scene with some very valuable footage sourced from Calcutta and Mumbai. What can we say: Let the music play!

SoBo’s latest watering hole
So what’s the hottest watering hole for SoBo’s beautiful people these days? Without doubt, it is Café Zoe, the spacious café at Mathuradas Mills Compound, one more welcome addition to what’s becoming the de rigeur night time destination of the cool set.

With its spacious setting, high sloping ceiling, glass panes to allow day light, with wooden tables all around and the delicious specialities of the house like Roast Pork Belly Carbonara, Truffle Cappelini and the roast duck, the business partners Tarini Mohindar, Jeremie Horowitz and Chef Viraf Patel (formerly of The Table) have a good thing going.

No wonder, then the café was the place to go after the recently concluded Fashion week, and ace restaurateurs like AD Singh and Rajiv Samant were spotted at the bar celebrating the competition. 

Budding photographer Nirman Chowdhury clicked this picture while taking a casual stroll near Shivaji Park. “The sun’s golden light reflecting on the sea made a beautiful picture and then I noticed the two boys taking a swim and their silhouette against Mumbai’s iconic Sealink looked great.” We like!

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