Monday, December 31, 2007

HELLO 2008!! Digital crusaders and more…

Beijing Olympics 2008 will be the sporting event to look forward to... for all of us Pharmacists and healthcare professionals included!

In Jan 2007, I got a pleasant web surprise where in Mr. John Mack acknowledged a mail from myself to him in the following manner ... PLEASE CLICK HERE. 2007 was a great year for digital crusaders like John Mack, and surely 2008 will be the YEAR OF THE DIGITAL for Pharma and healthcare professionals and netizens.

This year 2007 has whizzed by – 2008 is just round the corner. Among various pharma and healthcare events, the withdrawal of inhalable insulin – EXUBERA for non-pharmacological reasons is the most interesting case study. Withdrawal of drugs or formulations is normally due to a problematic adverse reactions profile. Exubera was withdrawn for commercial reasons, as sales were not sufficient. So was the withdrawal of Exubera a marketing problem? Does the Exubera case study indicate a major silent shift in the structure of healthcare market? Is there a new undiscovered paradigm of decision making operating in the healthcare market? The curious case of Exubera is unanswered.

Visualizing emerging healthcare markets and trends in 2008

One of the most interesting tasks of stock taking every year end is crystal ball gazing – trying to make out the trends in the coming year.

The biotech trend will gather steam

2007 was an interesting journey: one biotech product - Exubera ‘bonged’, while Gardasil has taken off well, and this human papilloma virus vaccine looks to make history. Wyeth’s pneumococcal vaccine is penetrating markets worldwide admirably. Overall the biotech products will script success.

The global market for biotech products is growing fast and the 2005 estimate of revenues of major international biotech companies was 63.1 billion dollars market. The Indian Pharma companies too are looking at the attractive biogenerics segment as you can observe here…CLICK HERE.

From collaborative R & D to open source innovation, research, and development

The internet and the information revolution have contributed to an important phenomenon – that is empowerment. People are no more ignorant about various healthcare and other matters. Taking informed decisions has become the way of life for prospects and consumers. Furthermore, web 2.0 technologies have added to the spread of knowledge and wisdom through conversations and new media. This has added to healthcare literacy. Suddenly, one can go on to the net, gain significant understanding about health topics like say diabetes, and then can even blog to become an important opinion builder and resource on diabetes; for eg., Thus the new media has caused the collapse of the information float and created collaborative mindsets.

Thus, it has become inevitable for Pharma companies involved in R & D to collaborate and innovate, mainly to spread the risks involved and ‘bullet proof ‘ innovation activities. There by there is derisking of the R & D activities. Innovation projects are being outsourced to countries that can provide cost effective results. This collaboration mindset on innovation will know doubt get a fillip in 2008, but will further telescope in to open source healthcare R & D. Mr. Amit Sen Gupta, Gen Sec of All India Peoples Science Network has argued passionately in favor of the same on p no 14 of Economic Times, dated 26.12.2007. He makes a profound opening statement that TRIPS leading to increased innovation is only a mirage. Strong IP protection is encouraging protectionism and is harming the way science is done, he reiterates. Many more patents are taken out to stop others from working than to protect one’s own research, he argues. Open – source model of innovation is not new and is used extensively in the software sector, it organizes research from around the globe, he reiterates. It is possible that in 2008, there will be a new dawn in Pharma and healthcare innovation through collaborative and open-source innovation model.

Complementary healthcare products (including herbals) will rise

The recent Indian Pharmaceutical Congress 2007 at Varanasi was an eye opener. There was a lot of buzz on herbal drugs. There were interesting poster presentations and lectures on herbal trends. The Dr. P C Dandiya Endowment Trust Oration was dedicated to herbal drugs. An interesting scientific presentation on herbal medicine by Wei Duan, of Australia, has reiterated that about half the Australian population uses complementary and alternative medicine totaling an estimated 2.3 billion Australian dollars.

Here is an interesting report: CLICK HERE. More about herbal products industry: CLICK HERE.

Personalized medicine, SMART PHARMACY, and e-healthcare will strengthen

IT advances and biotech have helped map the human genome and is now leading to an era of personalized medicine. And the e-healthcare concept is gaining strength. For instance, the Economic Times, dated 29.12.2007 on p no 4, talks about how Talk to Frank is a drugs advisory and discussion web site that is creating a new paradigm in e-healthcare. The mantra of e-healthcare is demystifying healthcare knowledge, empowerment, and helping people take informed decisions.

2008 will see more excitement in the remote diagnosis and treatment healthcare space, as technologies for better telemedicine are already there and need to be applied.

2008 will see more of digitization of healthcare: open a website, and punch in signs and symptoms, get an idea of the healthcare issue, and may be even take internet based remote consultations with healthcare professionals.

2008 will see the rise of SMART PHARMACIES -where in community and clinical pharmacists will use IT, and help patients and consumers make the best health choices. One concept that pharmacists in collaboration with healthcare and Pharma companies will use is the After Rx Services concept using touchscreen devices.

Digital crusaders will shine even more

Digitization has created a new genre of crusaders - people who are passionate about certain issues, crusade in favor of their passions on the net. And these crusaders are creating new forces in the world through the most democratized medium – the internet. With web 2.0 getting strengthened, and web penetration gaining traction globally, such digital crusaders will shine even more.

In the Pharma and Healthcare digital world, here are some passionate crusaders (whom I recollect off hand): John Mack (passionate about his blog and the famous Pharma Marketing Blog Forum), John Virapen, Rich Meyer, Amy Tenderich, Dr. Steve, the team at, Peter Rost…

I RAISE A SPECIAL TOAST ON NEW YEAR’S EVE TO THESE BRAVE DIGITAL CRUSADERS. I AM SURE THEY WILL SHINE EVEN BETTER IN 2008. May their tribe increase, and may God shower them and their ilk, with the very best in 2008 and years to come.

You can access 49 blogposts put up by me in 2007 by CLICKING HERE. Please do read all the blogposts on this blog, enjoy, AND WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2008. Thanks.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Chronicle Pharmabiz: shaping the destiny of Indian Pharmaceutical sector

Chronicle Pharmabiz is an important mirror of the Indian Pharmaceutical sector. This news weekly has just brought out a special issue on the occasion of the 59th Indian Pharmaceutical Congress, Varanasi. Chronicle Pharmabiz has also published some of my articles too, in the past, which you can access by clicking HERE. MY LATEST ARTICLE ENTITLED MARKETING (PERCEIVED) VALUE HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN CHRONICLE PHARMABIZ SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT DATED 13.12.2007 AND CAN BE ACCESSED BY clicking here.

Excerpts from the article entitled Marketing (perceived) value:

"Pharma marketing is now experiencing tectonic shifts in value delivery processes with transformational developments in marketing and communication media. The vehicles of message transfer are transforming the way by which word-of-mouth (between doctors and between patients) occurs. Hence, the way marketing influences perceived value and consumption of products is also changing radically.

In marketing, the perceived value of a product or brand by the target audience is vital. A successful pharma product obviously has a high rating of perceived value by the prescriber, patient and retailer. Perception of value comes when the product is presented with sophistication and performs to the expectation. When value perception is negatively affected, the product becomes a whimper. It is essential to create a buzz to enhance value perception. Positive word-of-mouth enhances value perception".

The information age

We are now in the information age. Tools and systems that help create information from data; organizations that provide insights, ideas, and value through distilling, and analyzing information are in great demand. This is simply because in today’s wired world there is a collapse of the information float. Disruptive forces act faster on business systems. In this age, one can, at real time, share, and collaborate on the information superhighway to create value, and thereby enhance organizational effectiveness and efficiency. Successful organizations today focus on creating value from information through ideas, and insights. This helps organizations compete better.

Media and communication are keys to organizational and individual success

Media (including social media like blogs) plays an all important role in shaping destinies of communities, industries, and individuals. One such medium in the Indian Pharma scene - is CHRONICLE PHARMABIZ. The launch of Chronicle Pharmabiz was an important event in the Indian Pharmaceutical scene as the magazine was focused to serve unrepresented portions of the Indian Pharma sector. Chronicle Pharmabiz addresses a market gap – it functions as a bridge between the Pharma industry, regulators, research, and educational institutions.

Today, the Chronicle Pharmabiz has grown to become South Asia’s No. 1 Pharma news weekly. In fact, Chronicle Pharmabiz has undergone a metamorphosis – in to a group called Saffron Media. This media group produces a no. of mags to serve different industries like the food and beverage industry. Saffron Media is a forward looking media group with presence in print and the online world.

Chronicle Pharmabiz like The Times of India, plays a key role in shaping important events related to the Pharma industry. For instance, Chronicle Pharmabiz has in the recent past played a lead role in helping organize the Indian Pharmaceutical Congress, and in the latest 59th Indian Pharmaceutical Congress that is currently underway at Varanasi, the official media partner is Chronicle Pharmabiz.

The Chronicle Pharmabiz team is friendly, professional, collaborative, and communicative. Their write-ups strike a balance between academia, and the commercial side of the Pharma sector. In fact, this is their cachet. Chronicle Pharmabiz presents readers with insights on the Pharma sector from the academic angle, and from the practical ground level of the industry. The Chronicle Pharmabiz editorials are bold and unprejudiced. Their articles show that the Chronicle Pharmabiz team is interested in publishing courageous, forward looking, and original insights.


All media are extensions of some human faculty – psychic or physical

This blogpost is dedicated to CHRONICLE PHARMABIZ and I personally wish the media group all the very best in its future endeavors. I TAKE THIS OCCASION TO WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY CHRISTMAS 2007. As always, I invite you all to take time and scroll down to read all other blogposts including by clicking on "older posts". Thanks.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Adolescence healthcare market: a forgotton frontier

To learn more about the above picture, please CLICK HERE.

The key to successful market expansion plans is uncovering new markets for existing products; identifying novel needs, wants, and desires, and addressing them with suitable products and services. Here is a market not very well addresssed, and that is the ADOLESCENCE HEALTHCARE MARKET.
Adolescence age
No one can forget one's golden age of adolescence. The adolescent vivacity, imagination, optimism, restlessness... the inexplicable forces generating a lot of energy...can one forget it at all?!!

Adolescence, biologically speaking, is the age when hormonal activity induces maturation changes in the individual. It is the age of new discoveries of the mind and body - with new behaviors - the adolescent is not yet an adult, and certainly not a child too. The age of puberty is when adolescence is said to begin.

In girls, adolescence leads to maturation changes - the girl is growing in to a young woman. Her voice gets shriller, deposition of fats in a 'rounded way' begins, development of breasts, and start of menstruation signal the arrival of adolescence. The girl starts to spend more time in front of the mirror, examining facial skin and so is a delicate age.

Boys...suddenly get aggressive, alternating between compliance and rebellion. Open sometimes and at times withdrawn, one wonders what happened to my boy?! Maturation changes makes their voices become hoarser (ie. deeper), muscular and skeletal development takes place at a rapid pace, and a moustache and beard make their first presence.

The challenges in adolescence age include:

a) mental health and right attitude development (antisocial behavior in schools and colleges give shivers to gaurdians and parents, because this is when peer groups become more important and powerful than gaurdians and parents!)
b) hormonal changes and maturation development
c) skin health (acne is the most common skin affliction)

Adolescent medicine

Adolescents face unique problems: emotional and maturation related changes. This is the age when nutrition becomes important since adolescence is associated with maturation changes and growth. Mood disorders are common among adolescent youth. Acne can drive young girls in to depression and social withdrawal. Endocrinology and gynecology become important in the management of girl adolescence health. Adolescence medicine becomes important from the ages of 9 to 11 for girls, and 11 to 13 for boys.

With the youth market becoming important in India, developed countries and emerging markets, adolescent clinics are becoming important.


While it is clear that adolescence healthcare market has its interesting sensitivities and represents a market opportunity to be addressed, the type of business model is very vital. When the adolescence healthcare market is addressed with an adolescence clinic, it is clear that the sickness dimension is being emphasised. Will such a nomenclature attract the right audience in large nos.? Or should an alternative business model be developed with a more positive image?

YOUTH WELLNESS CENTERS sound more positive, dosen't it?

There is a ready market for the taking - a market that needs to be addressed in a specific way, the market for adolescents is there. But it is useful to have a marketing communication activity taking parents and gaurdians in to confidence. After all which parent would not like to have a useful partner for strengthening the attitude and health of their adolescent children? A Youth Wellness Center manned by professionals, partnered by pharmaceutical and healthcare companies can give wellness and preventive medicine a new dimension. The social benefits of such marketing initiatives are welcome.

For eg., if a company gets a professional to endorse the use of healthcare products like Horlicks (I wonder why Horlicks should be a bedtime drink? And not be an anytime drink.) and say Brahmi (for mental sharpness), it is inevitable that the youth market will carry on the use of these healthcare products in the mature age phase too. So making inroads in to the youth market is sagacious for present and future business too!

Adolescent age group is the typical crossroads age group. What this set of prospects and customers requires is a positive health center. And there is a major youth market there for marketers to tap into.

Right now healthcare marketers are less focused on the teen (youth or adolescence) market segment, leaving the market open to personality development enterprises. With childhood and teen obesity, faulty eating habits, skin problems, emotional challenges ... pharma and healthcare marketers can make a difference to society and the financial health of their companies! (RIGHT ADOLESCENCE = GREAT FUTURE)

Please scroll down to read more interesting articles, you may have to click on OLDER POSTS for some more interesting blogposts.

Friday, December 7, 2007


The above is a nice image of a touchscreen from (CLICK HERE) and this device can herald a new era of pharma retailing and AFTER Rx SERVICE, do read on...

Digitalization is an unstoppable global juggernaut. The trend of digitalization is changing the way we communicate and conduct business. In fact, digitalization has transformed the way we live. In the field of pharma marketing and healthcare, digitalization is leaving a global footprint and has the potential to revolutionize healthcare CRM through an exciting concept (that I call) AFTER Rx SERVICE. Please read on…


The current orientation of pharma marketers is to focus on prescription generation and encashment in favor of marketed brands. Thus, physician engagement and availability at pharmacies, and ensuring encashment of prescriptions is the focus of sales and marketing efforts. However, the revolutionary trend of digitalization has the potential of creating yet another powerful touchpoint that can influence the consumption of products and services, and improve health outcomes.

After a prescription is generated for a brand – a connection is established between the company, the brand, doctor, pharmacist, and the patient. By capitalizing on the potential of digitalization, one can further strengthen the equation between company, brand, doctor, pharmacist, and patient for mutual benefits. Here is how, with a few illustrations:

Let us imagine a new person is diagnosed as a diabetic and is given a prescription for a brand of metformin. After purchasing a pack of the medication, the patient gets to read the pack insert, that informs him of the details of the medication, and encourages the patient to log on to the particular brand website. After logging on to the brand website, the patient is encouraged in the website to register himself. The brand website experience will inevitably be an empowering and encouraging experience, where the website will advice and inform the patient on diabetes management and lifestyle issues. Being a diverse manufacturer, the company will subtly inform the netizen about the availability of other CAM (complementary and alternative) products as supportive therapies for management of diabetes. The idea is to seed other relevant products in the receptive mind of the patient to help the patient manage the diabetic situation better. In fact, the accent can be on prevention of diabetic complications, for eg. an antioxidant product like Ocugold from Ajanta for better eye care. As the netizen reads about the complications of diabetes, he becomes aware of the dermopathies that a diabetic is susceptible to. Thus, his mind will be receptive to use of relevant creams as preventive care. Marketing preventive care is the challenge as there are a number of mental barriers for the adoption of preventive healthcare products. Notably, the reason is the inertia that is the thought that the product is not required by an individual as the sickness may not strike him. However, a person with sickness has a mind primed to reception of messages on preventive healthcare products (or services), particularly for the products related to complications like diabetic complications.

The website can also lead the netizen to a conversational blog site wherein the patient can have conversations on the use of medicines, awareness and management of side effects, using complementary and other products for health benefits, and use the blog site as a moral support system. Thus, through the effective use of internet based digital medium the company cements its relationship with the patient through an augmented AFTER Rx SERVICES system.

One can enhance this in the case of vaccinations too. The mother can learn about the effectiveness of various vaccines on her own and take informed decisions about administering right vaccinations in consultation with the doctor. And get dosage alerts on her mobile from the website.

What the AFTER Rx SERVICE does is to strengthen the bond between patient and company through empowering information and inspiration. The company also gets an opportunity to introduce its complementary and preventive healthcare products.

Let us assume, a person is affected with tonsillitis. And he is prescribed antibiotics. The patient can go to the brand website and learn about tonsillitis and get to know of various immunostimulants like Septilin, Guduchi (through a co-promotion effort) etc that strengthen the healing process and prevent recurrent tonsillitis.

Liver dysfunction is often a side effect of drugs like anti TB drugs, antibiotics, and occurs due to alcohol consumption. In fact, chronic constipation, liver disease, and piles are related diseases. Thus, a TB patient or piles patient can through hyperlinks from brand websites connect to CAM products like Liv 52 that will help him heal better and faster, in consultation with the doctor. For eg., Lupin has anti TB medications and hepatoprotectives. A patient with a prescription for rifampicin, when he logs on to the brand website, he will get to know of the hepatic side effects, and can learn of hepatoprotectives that will play a constructive role in his road to recovery. All this is possible due to the digitalization trend in society today.

Digitalization can also help provide personalized messages to patients and doctors through e-mail and sms, based on specific queries and needs. Digitalization also helps create company or brand sponsored digital communities. For eg., patients of anxiety neurosis can belong to a brand digital community that acts as a support system. The entry to the brand digital community will of course come through a prescription for the brand. For eg., if a person is prescribed Anxit the patient can gain an entry to the Anxit digital community. Any messages on the Anxit message board can also be sent by sms to the patient’s mobile as Anxit sms alert.

Thus, we see that digitalization based AFTER Rx SERVICE is a form of customer relationship management (CRM) activity. The objectives of the AFTER Rx SERVICE will be

Strengthening bond between brand, company, pharmacist, doctor, and patient
Ensuring dosage compliance (can be done through sms dosage alerts too)
Offering complementary and related products to the receptive mind of the patient (aids prospecting)
Empowering persons on healthcare knowledge and issues
Preventing complications
Retarding the progress of the disease
Better health outcomes and improvement of quality of life
Customer brand engagement - strengthens confidence and allays fears
Helps retain customers
Increase throughput from each customer
Helps strengthen word-of-mouth and builds new opinion builder systems for healthcare products and services
Generating trust and customer delight (feel good factor)

Digitalization based CRM - AFTER Rx SERVICE - at the level of the pharmacies

Touchscreen based interactive information systems have great potential for AFTER Rx SERVICE. This can help pharmacies increase revenues through sale of semi OTC and OTC products (that are related to the patient’s disease). Let us imagine a patient is treated for PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome), the patient is usually prescribed hormonal treatment, but PCOS women also suffer from acne (adult onset acne). Through the touchscreen device, the patient can learn more about PCOS including the acne problem. The touchscreen device can advise skin care products. In case, of pharmacy chains like Manipal Cure and Care that are now marketing Living Proof range of skin care products, the touchscreen device can help bolster sale of the skin care products.

Now imagine a lady patient suffering from osteoporosis & osteoarthritis (which according to a survey are the #1 ailments in India), with a prescription for raloxofene. Such a patient is usually of the menopausal age. Let us say she enters a Manipal Care and Cure center, after filling in the prescription, the community pharmacist invites the patient to learn about osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and menopause with the help of the interactive touchscreen information system. The patient then learns through the attractive graphics that menopause also causes hot flashes (which she experiences), crows feet and fine wrinkling. By pressing appropriate touchscreen buttons the patient learns about the various OTC soy products for management of hot flashes, and the derma range Living Proof that will help in management of fine wrinkling and crows feet.

Thus, the above patient gets the benefit of better associated products, and the per patient revenue is significantly increased for Manipal Care and Cure.

Similarly, patients suffering from malaria can be exposed to information about anti – mosquito creams that can be applied, by other family members.

AFTER Rx SERVICE goes beyond physician engagement thanks to the digital medium represented by the internet, mobile, and touch screen based systems (for use at pharmacies). Particularly, for pharma retailers, touchscreen interactive information systems have a huge potential for offering augmented AFTER Rx SERVICE, and these along with pharmacist based counseling, can simultaneously enhance revenues significantly. Digitalization enhances CRM through AFTER Rx SERVICE and aids targeted messaging. Digitalization based AFTER Rx SERVICE is a 24/7 preposition and can go beyond geographies. There is respect for privacy and personalization of the digital experience. AFTER Rx SERVICE can revolutionize healthcare, augment brand building, and boost revenues.

I thank you for reading the above post, please scroll down to read a nice love story of a medical representative, and scroll down further for other articles, please click on older posts for articles if required. Thank you.


This is based on a true story of a MR from Tamil Nadu. The names have obviously been changed to protect identity and avoid unnecessary publicity. This is not a typical love story where the heroine is a much sought after beauty and the hero a rich guy; it is a story of mutual respect and very mature love. Read, enjoy and appreciate!!

The hero: The main character of this story is a Medical Representative (MR) by name … let us say, Bhima. This tall well built bespectacled handsome guy worked for a MNC. He was a hard worker with good rapport with chemists and doctors, and excellent territory knowledge. He lived and worked in Chennai away from his hometown. Like many a young man he did too suffer pangs of loneliness.

The heroine: Jyotika by name, she hailed from a feudalistic warrior caste, and belonged to a very poor background. Her father was a chronic drunk who even bashed up his wife and daughter for money to support his alcohol addiction. Her brother was a wastrel. 19 year old Jyotika was a very different beauty, her clear tanned complexion was arresting, and she had a maturity beyond her years.

The story: Bhima had to go to a far away suburb of Chennai every month. He often had his arguments with his boss to change his tour plan so he could avoid this suburb, and concentrate on business development in areas nearer to his residence. At last, his boss agreed, and today was to be his last business visit to this suburb. So he was extra happy while he rode on his bike to this far off territory.

His routine calling on doctors started, and at about 2.30 PM he was near to the last clinic. A friendly chemist had his medical shop nearby the clinic. It was routine for Bhima to rest in the medical shop, chat with the chemist, and make the doctor call when the doctor was free. A nurse used to control the entry of MRs to meet the doctor. It was routine for Bhima and other MRs to give some gift samples to the nurse so she can facilitate an early entry in to the clinic. (This point is important as it is one of the threads on which the love story began).

Today, when he entered the medical shop, he was a bit surprised, as the regular chemist was not there, and there was a girl who was manning the shop rather authoritatively. Bhima assumed it was the medical shop’s owner. Bhima smiled shyly and started to converse with her. She introduced herself as Jyotika. She happened to hail from near his home town. Their wavelength’s matched. And they had a warm casual conversation.

At this juncture, the nurse came over to Bhima and took some samples from him as was routine. After the nurse left, Jyotika reprimanded Bhima for misappropriating the samples. She said that the samples were meant for the doctor, and by giving the same to the nurse, Bhima had equated the nurse with the doctor. So it was very unprofessional. And further she even reprimanded Bhima for not being clean shaven and smartly dressed. The reprimand was different as there was authority tinged with concern. Bhima was taken aback. No one had behaved like this with him particularly in a maiden conversation. She even advised him to eat regularly and be more disciplined so as to balance personal care and professional commitments. She was a mix of firmness and love. Bhima was rather happy with the experience of meeting Jyotika. While she was leaving to her house in the evening he asked for her contact no., and Bhima gave his card with mobile no. written on it. Jyotika took the business card from Bhima and commented “I come from a very low economic background, the way I have seen poverty, and if you see the shack that we call our home, probably you will not want to see me again.” Bhima was softened and said I will be waiting for your call tomorrow at 8.30 am in the morning.

The next day when Bhima was at Chennai, at 8.30 am exactly, a call came to his mobile. It was Jyotika. Then what followed was an intense one hour long conversation. Jyotika shared her background details and expressed concern for Bhima. In fact, the opening remarks as soon as they started conversing, was with Jyotika enquiring whether Bhima had his breakfast, ironed his clothes, and other aspects of personal welfare. At the end of the conversation Bhima was inspired to pop up the question: Please will you marry me? To this Jyotika replied, “I think you should talk to your parents about this, seek their co-operation, and get a good well educated girl from a great family background from your caste, with a good dowry to match”. “I think”, she continued, “I am a mismatch to you, we are from different castes, I am from a poor background, and my education is only up to pre-university; so goodbye and take care”. She cut the line abruptly.

Bhima was in torment. Jyotika had in fact called from a public booth, so there was no way of reaching out to her immediately. Later, Bhima called up the medical shop, and said he wanted to speak to Jyotika; when she came on line he only said that he would come to the suburb medical shop the following Sunday, and wanted to talk to her. She did not respond. The call ended.

The following Sunday, Bhima rode on his bike to the suburb and stopped near the medical shop at a petrol bunk. Jyotika was there in the medical shop, she did notice Bhima, but was avoiding eye contact. Bhima stood for 2 hours under the hot sun at the nearby petrol bunk. At long last, Jyotika came up to him and advised him to leave. Bhima said “Please get on the bike and I want to talk to you at a better place”. Jyotika in an irritated manner started walking away. Bhima started his bike went near her and roughly ordered her to get on to his bike. She stared and got on to his bike. Bhima rode over to a nearby isolated beach. He started conversing with Jyotika and said “I think you are from the warrior caste (Thevar), yet I want to marry you”. Jyotika got angry, she yelled at him, ”You know, about my caste, the caste leaders are not tolerant of such inter-caste marriages, and besides you are better off economically and better educated, you are handsome.” “Please leave me alone”, she yelled and gave Bhima a hard slap. The slap was so tight, that Bhima experienced stinging pain and his spectacles even fell off. Still Bhima yelled back “Please I only want to marry you”.

Softened, Jyotika, paused, and advised Bhima to take a five day leave, go off to his native place, and speak about all this with his parents.

At Bhima’s hometown: When Bhima broached this subject with his conservative parents, sister and elder brother, there was sullen silence. Approval was obviously not forthcoming. Bhima’s elder brother, took Bhima for a short walk and said “Normally, love marriages occur for one of these reasons: a) for money of the girl’s family (b) the beauty of the girl (c) bonding and spending time with each other for a long time (d) mistake (ie. pre marital sex). As per Bhima’s brother this was a unique case as Bhima was marrying for none the above reasons. Bhima said he had immense respect for Jyotika and was inspired by Jyotika. Hence, he wanted to marry her. Bhima’s brother advised - 'then take the step of marrying on your own, without parental support, break links from the family, and remember this marriage is a delicate task since, it involves people from the feudalistic warrior caste'.

Bhima left immediately for Jyotika’s house: Bhima entered Jyotika’s house to find her brother and mother in the house along with Jyotika. He started off by apologizing for his abrupt entry, and begged his forgiveness for his love for Jyotika, and said that he wished to marry Jyotika. Her brother was taken aback and he reprimanded Bhima. Bhima pleaded his proposal to Jyotika’s mother. After much negotiation, Jyotika’s mother said she would agree only if Jyotika really wanted to marry Bhima. So once again Bhima broached Jyotika to marry him in front of Jyotika’s mother and brother. Jyotika firmly said she wanted to marry Bhima and be Bhima’s wife.

A new twist: After the above episode Bhima returned to Chennai. A day later he was rudely awakened by an urgent call. A doctor was on the line and he asked Bhima to rush to the suburb as Jyotika was hospitalized and she was constantly asking for Bhima and she was alone. The doctor also said that Bhima should come with some 10 toughies and take Jyotika away from the suburb. Apparently, in drunken anger, Jyotika’s father had hit Jyotika on her head with a stone, and pushed out a bleeding Jyotika out off the house. And anguished neighbours had admitted Jyotika to the hospital – Jyotika was hurt badly, bleeding and was alone.

Pannachi helps: Bhima immediately approached one Pannachi of Chennai, a local toughie belonging to the warrior caste (same as Jyotika). Bhima gave all details of his case. Pannachi was taken aback, yet appreciated Bhima’s courage and tact. Since, in this case, the girl will be benefited, Pannachi agreed to help behind-the-scenes, as he did not want to antagonize his caste members through direct help.

Bhima rushes to the suburb hospital: Bhima then hired a vehicle and along with 4 of Pannachi’s toughies, he went to the hospital at night. Bhima did one more courageous thing:

Bhima went alone to Jyotika’s house, met Jyotika’s mother, father and brother, and reprimanded them for their inhuman treatment to Jyotika. In return, the father started rebuking Bhima for this incursion. Jyotika’s mother started wailing loudly saying no one in their family had done such a bad thing like inter-caste marriage or affair. In the meantime a crowd of about 50 people had gathered and were silently witnessing the proceedings. Amongst the onlookers was an intelligent good Samaritan who rang up the police and explained the details to the sub-inspector (SI). The police arrived immediately. The SI gave one look at the decently dressed Bhima and understood the scene. He rebuked and furiously reprimanded Jyotika’s mother and father. He said that they, in fact, should consider themselves lucky since Jyotika had selected a good boy for herself, and all by herself. He took some details in writing from Bhima, and under police protection sent Bhima and Jyotika to Chennai.

With the help of a few well wishers and friends, they married after two days, after Jyotika had recovered.

Today Bhima and Jyotika live happily ever after… they have a lovely baby boy … Bhima’s family and Jyotika’s family have reconciled to the marriage and they silently have renewed ties. However, Jyotika’s brother and father unfortunately continue with their bad old ways.

In this story we see that the MR hero has given that which a man ought to give a woman – a great new life. He has done it with a lot of personal sacrifice. The hero has not exploited the situation & cheated the girl – but on the other hand shown perfect commitment and nobility.

The great pix at the top is taken from