If you thought Palash Sen was the only prominent individual who managed to carve out a successful career both in medicine and as an artiste, you are in for a reality check. Apart from growing in his medical career successfully, Soham Sanyal from Kolkata has managed to make a name for himself in the local artistic space. He has performed in some of the most prestigious theatrical productions in India, played the bass guitar with several local groups and also does stand-up comedy. While he has gotten a grip in all these things, the young man has also trained extensively in martial arts (Taekwondo).
Did your parents encourage you to take up medicine as a profession or was it something you wanted to do?
I was somehow good at studies since childhood. In Bengal, every child is given two options when it comes to academic decision(!) making– engineering and medicine (at least in those days). I was not sure what I wanted to do but I definitely did not want to do engineering (laughs). I have done my MBBS,MD and I have a prestigious Royal college exam(MRCP UK final)coming up in 2021.
Where does art fit into all of this?
At the age of three, I was draped in my mom’s saree and made to act as a butterfly in a play. I started doing plays in school. A couple of years later, while still being in school, I got the opportunity to work in a couple of radio plays. Later, I learnt bass guitar for eight years and played in different local and college bands. I did playback for a number of popular theatrical productions as well. Between 2008 and 2015, I was a part of a large number of theatrical productions and performed at several venues across the state.
What is the kind of work you have done as an actor?
I have done a few short films and was a part of a couple of feature films as an actor. I was associated with a number of theatre groups in Kolkata at different points of time. I was associated with the well-known theatre group ‘Theatricians’ also though not as an actor. I am deeply indebted to all of them for giving me a chance time to time. A while back, I started performing as a stand-up artiste. I am a part of a group called ‘Kalkutta Komedians’. Despite being a relatively new group, we were getting a lot of shows but then, the lockdown happened. We are looking for opportunities to perform again now.
I believe teaching is something you are very passionate about.
Yes, that’s right. I have been travelling to several countries since 2015 as a visiting medical faculty. I taught basic medical science for the FMGE and NEET PG exams. I also used to teach MBBS and PG medical students on some well-known virtual education apps for some time. I am passionate about doing any kind of work that involves engagement with the audience. While performing on the stage, my job is to keep the audience engaged. Similarly, while teaching, I try to establish a direct connect with the students.
Medicine and art – how do you strike a balance between the two?
Managing time is difficult but I try to follow my artistic pursuits without neglecting my job. There is a theory which I strongly believe in. There is a lot of art in science and a lot of science in art. I want to do more research in this space and create the kind of material that would help more people being actively aware of it.
Have there been any artistes who inspired you?
Victor Wooten. He is a bassist and songwriter from America. He can play the bass guitar with all his ten fingers. He is a spectacular musician and his passion for his craft is hugely inspiring. Back in India I admire all actors like Pankaj Tripathi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rajkummar Rao and all those who carved out a distinctive identity for themselves by acting in quality cinema and bringing a change in the cinematic landscape. The late Soumitra Chattopadhyay will always remain one of my favourite actors. I am a great admirer of Saswata Chatterjee’s work too. And last but not the least I am a keen follower of Rowan Atkinson.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
At least, I do not want myself and the world to be dealing with this Covid-19 situation for sure (laughs). As I stated earlier, I would like to work further on understanding this harmony between science and art. I would want to get a little more clarity about the connection between the right and the left brain.