Actors stress on the need to invest wisely and also create funds in the industry for senior actors who are out of work.
Fortune is a fickle friend. The adage couldn’t be truer when it comes to Bollywood. The story of the yesteryear star Geeta Kapoor being hospitalised and abandoned by her choreographer son shocked many from the industry. Soon, the likes of producer Ramesh Taurani and director Ashok Pandit pooled in funds to pay her hospital bills of Rs 1.5 lakh. Riteish Deshmukh urged his industry colleagues to dig into their pockets to help the actress, too.
Whether prominent stars such as the ‘Tragedy Queen’ Meena Kumari, Bhagwan Dada, A. K. Hangal, Vimi, or now Geeta, who has done about 100 films including Pakeezah and Mughal-E-Azam, the incident has once again reminded the industry of its once big stars being forgotten and abandoned. Actor Jackie Shroff is not too unfamiliar with the unpredictability of the industry.
His production house suffered a huge blow and he was riddled with debts when his film Boom bombed at the box office. He had to sell off assets to pay the creditors. Jackie emphasises on the importance of actors saving for the rainy day. “God has been very kind to me, but it’s very unfortunate that senior actors have to see such days,” Jackie says. He is glad that his kids Tiger and Krishna Shroff have seen their father struggle and learnt from it to not only save for the future but also honour financial commitments.
For actor Parveen Dabas, the problem is not prevalent in only the industry. “It happens in society. It’s unfortunate that kids are abandoning their parents so, it shouldn’t happen anywhere,” he says. The current crop of actors is aware of the temporal nature of the industry, and ensures it has a contingency plan such as investments in restaurants, production houses, and suchlike. Like actress and the joint secretary of CINTAA, Rajeshwari Sachdev says, “We know that it’s not going to be the same always. So, we have invested for the rainy day.”
She emphasises that the new generation needs it more than ever given their lifestyle and increasing needs. With a short shelf life, no assurance of regular income, a lack of facilities such as provident funds and gratuity for actors, Rajeshwari states that it becomes especially difficult for those in their 80s to manage their expenses if they have no one to turn to. “Not everyone is lucky to have made crores or are wise enough to invest. At times they make enough just to survive,” she points out.
As for cases like Geeta Kapoor, the industry insiders stress on the need for funds and bodies for those in need. Jackie says, “I think it’s the responsibility of producers and other actors to support each other in need. We are called a film ‘fraternity’ after all.” Rajeshwari says that CINTAA is already exploring ways to help Geeta.
“Of course, it’s not a very big amount but we always try to help artistes. We wish to do more,” she says. Parveen adds, “It’s great that filmmakers such as Ashok Pandit and Ramesh Taurani have come forward. It just shows that the film fraternity and the film family still exist.”