TV Review: All is definitely not well with Dr Ahluwalia

The desi version of Dr Oz fails to make the cut

What do you do when a Bollywood actor offers more informative tips about health than the doctor standing beside him? You groan, wishing you were not duty bound to watch the show and could revert to Satyamev Jayate instead. All Is Well With Dr Sonu Ahluwalia is based on the American serial The Dr Oz Show. While Dr Mehmet Oz is dynamic, interesting and informative  Dr Ahluwalia is simply boring. Even the presence of Salman Khan is not enough to sustain our attention. It’s disappointing as the first episode showed much more promise.

The show premiere was quite informative as it dealt with belly fat, irritable bowel syndrome and touched upon the importance of pulse rate in diagnosing the state of the heart. The second episode was badly shot and edited. That was a surprise as it dealt with osteoporosis and Dr Ahluwalia is an orthopedic surgeon. We thought that he will be much more comfortable with this subject and really dive into it, but that did not happen. Instead, what we saw bordered on the farcical.

Dr Sonu Ahluwalia took a fat cylindrical sponge. He handed over an ice pick to Salman Khan. The Dabangg actor jabbed at the sponge in several places with the pick to simulate the porosity that occurs in our bones due to osteoporosis. Dr Ahluwalia then placed the sponge inside a square glass container. He poured blue liquid through it to demonstrate how calcium (the blue liquid) seeps through our bones (the sponge) in osteoporosis. A good idea, but the problem lay in the cylinder. It was hollow! The liquid went directly through the sponge and pooled at the base of the container. Very little seeped through the holes in the sponge for the camera to catch. The demonstration failed to produce the effect it was meant to. The good doctor also brought two thin glass beakers of varying thickness and broke them to demonstrate that once osteoporosis has set in, bones will break easily. He compared these beakers to the sponge which didn’t break easily. It didn’t seem to strike him or the production team that you cannot compare two different materials. Salman realised what was happening and he tipped the fat glass jug containing the blue liquid. The jug didn’t break and the point was made.

An incident in the first episode was similarly funny. Dr Ahluwalia asked an obesity expert what is belly fat. The expert said, “Belly fat is the fat around the belly.” How illuminating! Is belly fat any different from just fat? How does belly fat increase the risk of heart attack and stroke? What about those individuals who are otherwise thin but sport beer bellies? Dr Ahluwalia stated that when there is not enough calcium in the blood, the body leeches it from the bones. This makes the bones brittle. Salman asked him if consuming calcium supplements will help make the bones stronger. The doctor said no. If you get enough calcium from the supplements, then the body won’t be forced to take its supply from the bones. That’s fine, but then how do we make bones stronger? Is there any way to restore the depleted calcium? All these questions were left unanswered.

Dr Ahluwalia tries hard to emulate Dr Oz. Having practised in the US for several years, he is no stranger to the show. Like Dr Oz, he too enters the stage by shaking hands with the audience, has light blue gloves as opposed to Dr Oz’s purple gloves, and has a white doctor’s coat ready for the audience member who will be his assistant. But these aspects are just not enough to take All Is Well to the level of The Dr Oz Show. A few months back, Dr Oz challenged the top juice companies in the US and proved that their apple juice has arsenic above the permitted levels. The desi version needs more in-depth information, more charisma and a better director to make it watchable.