Healing Power of Music

Palash Sen is equally at ease serenading an audience with his Hind-rock band Euphoria, treating patients at his orthopaedic clinic or lighting up the silver screen.

Palash Sen took his first steps towards pioneering the Hind-rock genre in his room on the seventh floor of the University College of Medical Sciences hostel in Ghaziabad. Understandably, his first song was ‘Heaven on the Seventh Floor’. That was where his friends joined him to gossip and have fun. During this time, he also wrote ‘Loving’s A Crime’ and ‘Free’. “The theme of my songs has more or less remained the same – women,” jokes Dr Sen, the frontman and face of Hind-rock band Euphoria.

He is its founder, lead vocalist, music director and lyricist. It was back in 1998 that Euphoria emerged on the scene with its debut album ‘Dhoom’. It was also the first Indian band to perform at the General Assembly of the United Nations. More than a decade – and some changes in the line-up –later, the band is still synonymous with soulful music and lyrics. They have also sung for films and released the theme song of the Commonwealth Games and the IPL team, Delhi Daredevils. “This July, we will release our next album, and this time around, the themes are different. The songs deal with serious issues like terrorism, corruption, religion and politics,” says Dr Sen.

It is not a coincidence that the term ‘Euphoria’ is medically recognised as a mental and emotional state of well-being. Dr Sen comes from four generations of doctors but it was not out of compulsion that he decided to follow suit. “I always wanted to be a doctor; I had also noticed the respect that my family received. Moreover, I love being an orthopaedic surgeon. What I didn’t enjoy was the first three years of theoretic studies which I cannot remember at all now.”

He attributes his alma maters, St Columbus School and University College of Medical Sciences, for making him the man he is today. “I believe it is the toughest to get into medical school, and even tougher to get out of it. Medicine is a dry subject to learn; it’s all about diseases and death. I found an outlet through music, which became popular in inter-college competitions. And Euphoria was conceived.”

Meanwhile, Dr Tuli, one of his professors, inspired him to specialise in orthopaedics. “I also noticed that surgeons were quicker, wittier and more on their toes.” It is Dr Sen’s first hand knowledge of academic pressure that has spurred him to work towards preventing student suicides. He delivers lectures and seminars to parents and teachers on how education is about fun and learning, and not about scoring marks. “Two different kids cannot be assessed with the same parameters. I believe everyone have the right to choose what they want to do.”

He was speaking from experience. It was a hard decision for him to scale back on his medical career, and even harder to convince his mother. “She could not understand why I would leave the security of being a doctor. But when ‘Dhoom Pichuk Dhoom’ released and became a hit, she saw I was still leading my life with dignity and she was fine with it. I was also happy to have found a way to earn through my passion.”

Dr Sen’s decision also earned him the credit of launching the Hind-Rock genre. “We created and pioneered the genre. But I feel, perhaps, after Euphoria, no one has picked it up. There are good bands like Swarathma and Faridkot, and the genre is not dead. Yet it has not been taken to a great level – this is not because of any dearth in talent but due to the domination of film music.”

As for Dr Sen, he is not personally partial to any musical genre as his father passed on his appreciation for all types of music to him. He counts his father as his greatest musical influence along with legends Elvis Presley, Kishore Kumar and R D Burman.

He and his band have also recorded songs for upcoming film ‘Mumbai Cutting’ directed by Manish Jha of ‘Matrubhoomi’ and ‘Anwar’ fame. Dr Sen plays the lead in this film, which tells of two people who intend to end their lives, yet meet and discover life only to encounter the floods in Mumbai. He is no novice in front of the camera. He has previously acted in ‘Filhaal’ directed by Meghna Gulzar, and is “very very comfortable in front of the camera”. His only grouse is that the results cannot be seen instantly, and one tends to lose interest.

While not on the sets or in his studio or touring with his band, he is busy with his patients. “Sometimes, I have around seven to eight appointments in a day; some days, none at all. I don’t do this for money, and I try to help out with free samples.” He recalls that in his initial years, patients used to come to him just because they wanted to be treated by someone famous.

But he says, “Even when Euphoria is over, I will still be a doctor.” That is why, despite the 12 years since he switched careers, Dr Sen still keeps track of the latest medical breakthroughs. “I read journals to keep myself updated. Also, my mother is a doctor and my wife is a scientist. So we have discussions at home as well.”

His intriguing mix of music and medicine has caught the attention of a nation, and this June, his biography ‘Euphoria – The Story of Palash Sen’ will be out. Recalls Dr Sen, “When writer Ashish Kate first approached me, I joked, asking if I was very old. But he convinced me saying that usually heroes are written about only they are dead or too old.”

For Dr Sen, his training keeps him grounded. “I never take myself too seriously as a performer. I take everything that comes my way with a pinch of salt. I treat success and failure equally, and do not get swayed easily,” he reveals his mantra for quality life.

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