5 min read

Interview With Director Koby Shimada | Dr. Bala

Anubhav Chakraborty

February 15, 2023 5 min read

Movie : Dr. Bala

Director : Koby Shimada| 


First and foremost, tell us about your love for the visual medium. More specifically, tell us about your love for cinema. 


Speech is not my strength.  Sharing my feelings and ideas though visual medium came down to me naturally and became my passion.  Any visual medium can tell a story; however, cinematography can touch audience’s heart and bring the story to their lives even after they left the theater, becoming a part of their lives.


 When did you decide to make a full feature documentary about a person whose story must be heard and taken inspiration from?


Dr. Bala and I played rugby football together.  As you may or may not know, if you play rugby, you become friends no matter where you are from and what language you speak.  We bonded immediately.  As I listened to his volunteer work in Southeast Asia and his vision to teach his medical skills to local doctors, I was drawn to his energy and passion.  I decided to film his interviews and started following his volunteer work all over Asia.  When enough footage had been collected and his achievements started to be recognized, I wanted to make his work to the full-length documentary film, so that people around the world will know about his work.

How different do you think is a documentary film compared to the other formats? What do you think are the things that must be specifically kept in mind while making a documentary film?


I believe the basic story structure is the same for both a narrative film and a documentary film.  Even in a documentary film, a story was told through a lens of a filmmaker, but we cannot arbitrarily create a story.


Can you suggest a few similar  documentaries or movies that must be watched by everyone? The rare ones that often go unnoticed. 


English Surgeon

442 – Live with Honor, Die with Dignity –


Tell us something about the footages. Don’t you think live footages bring a person closer to the audience? It adds a layer of intimacy to the interaction. 


Adding historical events and scenery unique to the country can draw audience into a story effectively.  People who had similar experience can relate to the story in the documentary film.  Even for the people who are not familiar with the story, people can experience the story as if they are in it.

Don’t you think stories like these act as the perfect antithesis to a domain predominantly shrouded by a miasma of cynicism and pessimism? 


I believe people didn’t choose to be cynical and pessimistic.  We are often trapped by the environment we are in, but want to change things in a better way if only they have some kind of trigger or boost.  I hope his story will touch audience’s heart and make them believe in their ability to offer something good for the world.  


Tell us something about the doctor himself. Rarely do we learn about souls like these. People who are the epitome of humanity. What were the interactions like? What did you bring back from your experience?  


Dr. Bala was an ER physician when he first started volunteering in Southeast Asia.  He realized that he needed to have specialized knowledge and skills that he can share with local doctors.  He went back to Japan to train himself in otolaryngology.  The skills he obtained through years of training opened a door to teach local doctors in Asia and reached to the work he envisioned at the beginning of his journey.


Philanthropy of this kind is seldom found. A man dedicating his life to the well being of human beings. The closest one can get to being a superhero. Actually more than that. The dedication, the love for mankind , the relentless tribulations, they tend to turn a normal person speechless. What makes them different in a domain full of pretense and half hearted indifference?  

Dr. Bala was indeed a superhero when an ordinary person like myself looks at his work; however, he did not sacrifice his life to the volunteer work.  It is actually quite the opposite.  By interacting with patients, doctors, and volunteers, his life is filled with joy and a sense of accomplishment. 


Why do you think more stories like these must be told? Do you believe it is more important now than ever, when there is so much violence, hatred and indifference in the world? 


Our world seems to be filled with hatred and indifference, and interacting to each other physically is discouraged due to the pandemic and conflicts in the world.  By sharing his story, I want people to realize how fulfilling it is to connect with people and to offer what each of us can do as a part of the bigger world.

Do you believe these stories possess the capacity to break all barriers, shatter the walls of discrimination and injustice and bring human beings together? Can it help them seek a better world for everyone? A world where one man becomes the other person’s pillar of strength. 


Absolutely.  By watching his story about how Dr. Bala treats patients in Asia, trains local doctors and nurses, gives them a sense of purpose and confidence, and it all comes back to Dr. Bala with a fulfilling life he loves, audience will learn how each of us can do to make this world a better place.

Related Post