(AN APPEAL TO ALL STARS, CELEBRITIES AND MONEYBAGS)
BY ALI PETER JOHN
Thank God, I lived through times when people in high places had their hearts in the right places and had a soul. They could feel for their fellowmen during times of major calamity or a crisis the country was facing. I remember all the times when there was a war or after a war, an earthquake, a storm or a flood or how some of the biggest stars, legends, sports persons, industrialists and anyone who was name and mattered walked out of their bungalows, palaces and apartments to do their very best to raise funds and other kinds of help to support the suffering, needy, hungry, and those in despair. They didn’t have to be asked or ordered by any Government, Authority or so-called Welfare Organisations, Institutions and all those NGOs ( most of them). They helped because their hearts and souls were stirred and touched and torn apart by the misery of their own people. They did it because they felt it was their moral duty and they did what they did because they had a conscience.
It was heartwarming to see actors like Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand lead the entire industry to urge the more privilege classes to help and it was moving to see even the most ordinary people showering the stars with money, clothes, utensils, food and to see women pluck out their jeweler and throw them to their favourite stars, without thinking their own future.
That was the spirit till the 70s and even till the early 80s, when everything good in the industry was wiped out because of certain gangsters and smugglers threatening to take over the industry and now the industry is dealing with much more money and stars are being paid several crores, but that human touch is sadly missing. They seemed to be living more for themselves than for other.
If there was a time when the industry should have risen to a crisis, it is now when an unheard of an unexpected enemy like Corona virus is playing havoc with the world and India being no exception.
No, I don’t expect the stars and superstars of today to walk out in the roads and climb up the stairs of buildings to ask for help. I know the times have changed and even a star who has had just one or two religious has the kind of protection and security which sometimes scares their own fans. But, there are certainly other ways of showing how much they care for those faceless millions who have made them what they are.
And the least they can do without facing any kind of difficulty is to put their hands and hearts into their purses and make donations that can help the cause. If the Sardars of Punjab can have langars and feed thousands of people, if a leading businessman like Azimbhai Premji can donate almost all his money to charity, if the Tatas can think of ways and means of helping, even if small-time businessmen who have not being doing too well after demonetization, can still think of helping in their own ways, why can’t the stars and all the industry leaders take a call and try to help.
All that is needed to tide over this crisis is a healthy supply of sanitizers, ventilators, masks and other medical aid that is needed to fight this killer virus. Think about it, a mere checkup will cost Rs.4500 per person. How will a poor man, a laborer, a farmer and a jobless man have that kind of money for himself or for his near and dear ones.
These are still early times and the battle is still to be fought and there is a long way to go, all the expert doctors say. I don’t say this as an affront to Modi or anyone in power, but more than clapping, clanging thaalis and making all the noise will help, but not really help. In today’s times, it is only money that matters, money can buy, money can heal, money can buy prayers.
I am not going to implore of the Ambanis, the Adanis and others like them because if they still have a conscience, they will know that all the crores that they have ultimately comes from the most common, ordinary and poor Indian in India.
I owe, a deep sense of gratitude to the film industry which has made me whatever I am. And so I strongly feel that it is my duty to remind one and all in the industry, especially the rich and the famous to put their hands and hearts into their purses, give till it hurts and earn the gratitude of people, which cannot be compared to all the riches and the crores of rupees which can last them only for this life and the gratitude of people can earn them the kind of soul satisfaction which will be more than praying and reaching some heaven (jannat) which no one has really seen. They are the “taare” of the industry, they can grow into and shine like the real “Taare Jameen Par” by this one act of generosity.
Come on, friends your peers did it once. You can truly do it now, if you have the desire, the will and the intention.
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