What happens when you see your experiences portrayed in a movie?  

Dr Cabbie, released last week, tells the story of an Indian immigrant to Canada who struggles to find work as a doctor because his qualifications aren’t recognized.

Real-life Doctor Syed Jaffery is from India and has faced similar issues – in spite of his international training. He told TRIEC what he thought of the film.
“Dr. Cabbie is about an unemployed doctor turned cab driver, who becomes a local hero when he converts his cab into a mobile clinic. It is a heart-warming journey of a young Indian Doctor who immigrates to Canada with the selfless ambition of healing others while making a new life for himself. The concept of Dr. Cabbie is great: it touches upon one of the most talked about social issues among newly immigrated, highly educated professionals.

The message laid out is powerful… A doctor trained in India, tied to the universal Hippocratic Oath, with angelic attributes and a golden-hearted attitude, comes to Canada; where bureaucracy puts him behind the wheel of a cab. The plot develops when Deepak delivers a baby in the back of his cab, his friend shoots the whole thing and the video goes viral. Deepak hits the headlines, but the media turns it into a trivial news item, sidelining the fact that Dr. Cabbie demonstrated selflessness and professionalism to help a fellow Canadian in their hour of need by putting his skills to use – skills that were not recognized by the system.

The movie doesn’t enlighten the audience: Dr. Cabbie is a prime example of a movie with a meaningful message that fails to deliver on its potential. Putting aside the fact that the characters are underdeveloped, the comedy is also cheap with sloppy sex jokes, which detracts from Dr. Cabbie’s uplifting, feel-good message. While it attempts to tell a worthwhile story through a combination of humor and drama, Dr. Cabbie’s inconsistent tone and uneven pacing, coupled with disappointing performances from a promising cast, leaves much to be desired. The writer and director of the movie tried an impossible balancing act wherein Dr. Cabbie is never as funny as it should be and can’t be taken seriously either.

The question is, will the movie deter professionals from filing their papers to Canada?I am not sure, I hope what people actually take away from it is the message that things in life do not always go as per plan. But in real-life there is not just one Dr. Cabbie, there are seven to ten thousand trained physicians from over 20 different countries who are forced to face similar circumstances in Ontario. Immigrants might not be deterred by the film; nevertheless, the government should not be letting their expensive skills go to waste, by saying no to highly educated and trained professionals from other countries while marketing Canada to them as “the Land of Opportunity”.

In Canada, immigrant professionals and PhDs are undervalued… It seems there is ‘dignity of labor but no dignity of profession’. I understand that how an immigrant’s journey can be fraught with challenges, but rather than dwell on the negative and the impossible, I want the audience to connect with the movie’s intrinsic message of hope. There’s no blueprint or secret formula. Life happens and ultimately it’s all about how you pick up and move on.
The Ontario Fairness Commission is doing important work to support foreign trained doctors in Canada. If you need information on this issue, visit their website