Udayavni Special

Lockdown crisis: India’s film biggies help with funds, medical supplies and food


PTI, May 24, 2020, 11:57 AM IST

Mumbai: From Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan to Chiranjeevi and Prabhas, India’s film biggies are stepping forward to do their bit for migrants, daily wage workers and those from their own industry facing joblessness and near starvation in an unprecedented pan-India lockdown.

As COVID-19 spreads, the band of stars, filmmakers and musicians, among the most affluent in the country, are making contributions of money, food and medical supplies and, in some cases, offering their properties for use as quarantine centres.

They are being innovative too, raising money through online concerts and throwing in a virtual date.

The grand-daddy of stars, Amitabh Bachchan,has pledged monthly rations to support 1,00,000 households of daily wage workers, including spot boys and makeup artists, belonging to the All India Film Employees Confederation (AIFEC). The initiative is supported by Sony Pictures Networks India and Kalyan Jewellers.

Bachchan, one of the most followed stars in India, also did his bit to spread awareness and was part of a short film on social distancing called Family. The film was made in collaboration with stars from Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam cinema.

With shootings cancelled and no idea of when audiences will feel confident enough to return to theatres, lakhs of people dependent on the film industry are on the verge of penury.

Superstar Salman Khan was one of the earliest celebrities to understand that lack of shootings will render many jobless. He pledged to directly help 25,000 daily wage artistes of FWICE every month through his Being Human Foundation.

We have about five lakh workers out of which 25,000 are in dire need of financial help. Being Human Foundation said they will take care of these workers on their own they are ensuring the money reaches them directly, FWICE president B N Tiwari told PTI in an earlier interview.

The actor has also asked fans to donate food to the needy and was seen loading ration packets in tractors and bullock carts to be sent to villages near his Panvel farmhouse, where he has been since the lockdown started on March 25.

His superstar colleague Shah Rukh went a step further by announcing a series of initiatives with his wife Gauri Khan and his business partners besides donating in the PM-CARES fund through his and actor Juhi Chawla’s IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders.

Their package’ of relief includes contributing personal protective equipment’ (PPE) for frontline health workers, daily food for 5,500 families in Mumbai, meal kits for 10,000 people per day, and essentials for 2,500 daily-wage workers as well as basic essentials and groceries to 2,500 workers in the national capital.

Shah Rukh and Gauri have also offered their four-floor office in suburban Mumbai to local civic authorities to help expand quarantine facilities in the city.

“This crisis is not going to pass in a hurry, it will take its time and its toll on all of us. It will also show us that there isn’t really a choice between looking out for ourselves and looking out for one another,” Khan said.

“There’s nothing more obvious in the spread of this pandemic than the fact that each one of us is inextricably connected to each other, without any distinction,” the actor said in a statement last month while announcing his charity initiatives.

With the nationwide lockdown in its fourth phase and India’s count of COVID-19 cases crossing 1.3 lakh with more than 3,800 fatalities, other stars are digging deep into their pockets too. Akshay Kumar donated Rs 25 crore to the PM-CARES fund to help fight the virus in March apart from a Rs 2 crore contribution to Mumbai Police and other charity contributions.

Other who have donated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s PM-CARES fund include Vicky Kaushal, Karan Johar, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Lata Mangeshkar. Ajay Devgn and filmmaker Rohit Shetty have donated Rs 51 lakh each for the daily wage workers in the film industry.

Besides, Hrithik Roshan, Vidya Balan, Farhan Akhtar, Sonu Sood and Sonakshi are among the people who have given money for PPE kits and food for healthcare professionals and other healthcare workers.

Like Shah Rukh, Sood has also offered his hotel in the city for healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses and the paramedical staff, to stay. He also has been delivering meals to the underprivileged in Mumbai.

But that is not all.

Troubled by images of lakhs of migrant labourers making their way to their homes on foot with little or no food, the actor decided to help them reach home.

Sood facilitated several buses for hundreds of workers stranded in Mumbai so they could return to their homes in states such as Karnataka, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

He has also been helping those reaching out to him via social media.

“I will continue sending migrants home until the last migrant reunites with his family and loved ones. This is something really close to my heart and I will give it my all,” the 46-year-old said in a statement.

Bollywood stars also raised funds through the high profile charity concert I for India held earlier this month to raise funds for frontline workers.

The digital concert, featuring 85 Indian and global stars such as Will Smith, Nick Jonas, Shah Rukh and Priyanka Chopra, raised Rs 52 crore.

And actor Arjun Kapoor offered a virtual date to raise funds for the charity besides personal donations.

Down south, Baahubali actor Prabhas has given Rs 4 crore — Rs 3 crore for the PM’s National Relief Fund and Rs 50 lakh each to relief funds of the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana chief ministers.

Telugu superstar Pawan Kalyan donated Rs 1 crore to the PM’s relief fund and Rs 50 lakh each to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana CM relief funds.

Actor Ram Charan and his father Chiranjeevi donated Rs 70 lakh and Rs 1 crore to the centre and state charities.

Telugu star Allu Arjun made a donation of Rs 1.25 crore to relief funds of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala and an additional, Rs 20 lakh to Corona Crisis Charity set up by Cheerajivi to help daily wage workers in the south film industry.

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