Every sailor has a story to share. Every actor has a story to enact. For ex Bollywood actor Dan Dhanoa whose been on the screen with the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna and many others in a whole lot of movies in the 1980s and 90s, this is perhaps the last story that he would’ve wanted to perform in. But then, this is a story of fortitude and courage; one that makes him a real hero now that he’s not a reel hero anymore!
The set for this script that surfaced totally out of the blue, was a ship converted into an oil and gas unit, more than 14,000 km away from his home and family in Chandigarh and 300 km off Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. The story unfolded with the Supremo up above playing the Director.
This Doon School alumnus said that he had been on the ship for 16 days before catching the infection. He suspects that it was some service vendor, possibly an asymptomatic carrier, who brought the virus on board. Infact, about 18 to 20 others were tested positive while he was hospitalized. It’s no coincidence that back in the 80’s, Dan starred in a movie called Jaan ki Baazi (Gamble of Life). Being several miles away from family in an alien land, where he couldn’t even communicate properly given that he does not speak Portugese (the local language of Brazil), was certainly not easy. But this villain of the yester years, whose fought a lot of heroes in movies such as Mard, Dacait, Karma, Tridev, Deedar, Tahalka, Sanam Bewafa etc fought quite an intrepid fight with the virus.
Dan shares for the benefit of our readers that the symptoms were not typical in his case. It all started with a headache and fever. ”Initially the headache was only in the front and I thought that frontal sinuses were playing up. I had absolutely no shortness of breath or cough, but my appetite died and I started feeling weak. Also, there was stiffness in the chest and lower back”, shares Dan. That’s when he was evacuated ashore on a chopper, which is where they did the COVID test. The test is not a real time test and he had to wait for 3-4 days for the results. Concurrently, a physical test was done and it was found that his breathing was erratic. A CT Scan revealed that his lungs were 10 to 15 percent compromised and fibrosis had set in. Quarantine and therapeutic treatment started immediately thereafter. Dan was in the ICU for a week and thereafter shifted to a normal quarantine ward. “It’s important for people to be mindful of the many different symptoms of the disease, not ignore any prodrome at all, go for tests and isolate themselves”, Dan advises everyone. He also really emphasizes on keeping a thermometer & pulse oximeter handy at home, for timely detection.
Dan tells us with great pride how his wife Nandita who is in Chandigarh played the real hero here. “I had asked her to keep everything under wraps. My mother is 94 years old and most relatives are aged. The news would have left them extremely distressed and panic struck. Nandita stood by me like the Rock of Gibraltar,” says Dhanoa. It wasn’t an easy battle. Staying in touch with Nandita was challenging too but he found a way out. He would give the nurses his wife’s WhatsApp number, using the few Portuguese words he picked up to communicate with them. “It was almost like penning a script for a thriller. The only thing I’d never tried my luck at till date”, says this ex Bollywood champ in his trademark jocular style. His phone and laptop were taken away, when he was in the ICU. Since he had to go offline, he asked his wife to tell people on his social media pages that there was a glitch in Internet connectivity on board the ship, so that there was no speculation or worry. There was an emotional Hindi movie scene too after he broke the news to his Mother on a video call, but only after having dealt with the villain!
The daring Dhanoa is currently recuperating in a hotel in Rio. “All’s well that ends well!”, says this die hard optimist. We wish him a swift recovery & brighter days ahead!
Written by Adarsh Gill Brar.