Vinay Bharadwaj's Let's Talk tackles the big C word
In many households increasingly, the C word is the elephant in the room. Prevalence is on a high, early detection is vital and it could happen to anyone. But how do you get around to having the conversation?
When Vinay Bharadwaj lost his mother to urinary bladder cancer, he did anything but go into a shell. “I felt shattered. But I knew there could be so many more like me that could be saved by the right information and not brushing it off the table,” he says. Vinay acknowledged his privilege as a Singapore-based investment banker and a designer, who had the money and the means. “But it was in my power to put that to good use.”
Why a talk show? “I think who better to talk about this with than celebrities? When we get them involved, I feel like people will listen more,” he points out. He didn’t start with a fat phone book or plenty strings to pull. A “yes” from Vasundara Das gave the Bengaluru edition of his talk show the push it needed. “After that, it was a heady few months of calls between work breaks, endless numbers and notes and mails and “I’ll get back to you’s.” Biocon Chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw decided to sponsor him, and producing the show got a lot smoother after.
In Bengaluru, he hosted everyone from Puneeth Rajkumar, Pranitha Subhash, Nirup Bhandari and Radhika Chetan, singers like Raghu Dixit and Vasundhara Das to athletes including Ashwini Nachappa, Ashwini Ponappa, KL Rahul, Vidya Pillai and Pankaj Advani. Other popular personalities like Prasad Bidapa, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Sundeep Rao, Rubi Chakravarthi, Dr Ajai Kumar, Sunita Dhairyam, Anna Chandy and Mayuri Upadhyay were also on board.
Chennai was destination deux. “The incidences are higher here, but so is the awareness. People in Chennai are far more conscious of having the conversation too,” he says. So who’s on the list here?
Cancer Foundation’s Dr V Shanta, Singers Sudha Raghunathan, Srinivas and Chinmayi, Mandolin U Rajesh & Music Director Devi Sri Prasad, Pianist Anil Srinivasan, Environmentalist & Founder of EFI Arun Krishnamurthy, Chief coach of MRF Pace Foundation Senthilnathan, Lyricist Madhan Karky, Squash player World No 13 Joshna Chinappa, Founder of the Apollo Cancer Care Unit and 2 time Cancer survivor Neerja Maalik, Actor and Comedian Padma Shri Vivek and celebrity photographer Venket Ram.
“Hosting felt natural. I had nothing particularly prepared and had zero experience. But to get them to open up and see them emotional, completely sink into their comfort zone, was amazing to witness. Because a subject like this can touch the most sensitive part of you,” he says. Neerja Malik, the two time survivor of Cancer summed it up best. "Replace the word 'fight' with 'face'."
For those who cannot afford stellar cancer care, Vinay plans to donate the proceeds of the show to rural and economically disadvantaged sufferers of cancer.