Till today, I have a lot of people coming to me for cataract surgery just because I am Jai Shankar’s son

Dr. Vijay Shankar is a well-known and popular Ophthalmologist having conducted Thousands of eye surgeries. Dr. Vijay Shankar became an eye surgeon to fulfill his father’s long cherished dream of becoming a successful eye practitioner.

Dr. Vijay Shankar has completed his MS in Ophthalmology from Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore. He has done his fellow ship and has been trained under various sub-specialties in Ophthalmology at SankaraNethralaya, Chennai. He also carries out his father’s philanthropic activities.
In an exclusive interview, Dr. Vijay Shankar tells Marie Banu what motivated him to become an Ophthamologist.
Being the son of a leading yesteryear actor, what motivated you to become an Ophthamologist?
I was motivated by my father to be an eye surgeon. My father is the famous Tamil actor,Late Jai Shankar, who is also known as the James Bond of Tamil cinema. He did a film titled ‘Idhayamparakiradhu’; this was his hundredth film in which he played a blind man.
While acting in the film ‘Idhayamparakiradhu’ he had the opportunity to interact with a lot of blind persons and wanted to make one of his children an eye surgeon.He thought that I would be the best as I was good in academics.I complied for my father’s sake, in spite of receiving a lot of movie offers.
When I cleared the MS, he was the happiest person in the world. He said to me: “You should do a thousand surgeries, Vijay. That is what I want.”
I have done many thousands of surgeries now, and thanks to him.It was his wish!
About your celebrity clients?
About 70 to 75 percent of my clients are from the film industry. Thanks to my illustrious father. Till today, I have a lot of people coming to me for cataract surgery just because I am Jai Shankar’s son. They say, “Your dad has helped me so much. When I was a producer, I could not pay your father. Now, I have come to you for a surgery.”
My practice began galloping since I was 27. He has helped the film industry so much, that they thought they are repaying him by coming to me.
I trust in quality and I believe that my patients should get the best. So, whatever best I can do in eye care, I will do. I do have a lot of celebrities and film personalities as patients and I am grateful to them for trusting me.

Where did you study? Were you allowed to interact with the film fraternity while young?
I did my schooling at Don Bosco, Egmoreand went toKasturba Medical Collegeat Manipaland even completed my MS degree here. I underwent two-year fellowship at SankaraNetralaya and graduated as an eye surgeon. Now, I serve as a senior consultant at Apollo Hospitals and I do my private practice too.
While young, we were never allowed to visit a shooting spot. Parties used to happen at home, but we were not allowed to leave our rooms. In our home, education was of paramount importance. Thanks to my mother! My sister is a doctor in Apollo hospital and my brother is an engineer.
My father wanted to be a doctor, but he could not gain a seat in a medical college. Ultimately, he ended up in cinema.
Which of the social issues are you passionate about?
One thing I am passionate about is eye donation. In India there is a lot of need for eyes; children especially adolescents are in need for eyesight. This can be possible only if people can come forward to donate their eyes after their lifetime. So, I try my best to pitch in for the eye donation campaign.
In fact, I conduct eye camps for the poor section of the film industry every year. We have completed four such camps for the Producers’ council; Directors’ Union; Actors’ Union; Stunts’ Union, where we conduct free surgeries and provide free medicines. We make sure that we do the best of whatever we could do.
Can you tell us about the charitable activities that you coordinate?
My father is aphilanthropist and he has done a lot of social work. In fact, there was an organization called ‘Mercy Home’ at Kilpauk in Chennai which he took over and supported in a big way. He used to make sure that his co-stars celebrate their birthdays with the destitute people at Mercy home.
I run a charitable trust ‘Jai Shankar Medical and Charitable Trust.’ My wife is an ENT surgeon, and we mainly coordinate health camps related to eye care and ENT for the needy.
There are so many social responsibilities around us. Each of us has a role to play in our society. Don Boscoschool’sformer Principal and Rector Fr. Sahayarajrequested me to conduct an eye camp for the poor students who study in the night school, and I readily agreed. We conducted a huge eye camp and also gave away free spectacles to the boys. Even today, we are there for the Don Bosco students,whenever called.
Your advice for those who aspire to be ophthalmologists?
We have a lot of eye related problems in our country and we require more ophthalmologists. Even though there are many eye care centres coming up, it is still not enough. The number of eye diseases is increasing, thanks to the technology, media, television, iPad, laptops, and everything. More and more doctors are welcome and we require people who can do quality work.