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Safety before heroism: Film industry demands safe sets for stuntmen

Following the death of two Kannada stuntmen, Anil and Uday — who drowned while shooting for an action sequence — we speak to actors, stunt directors and filmmakers about safety regulations in the Indian film industry.

bollywood Updated: Nov 09, 2016 08:04 IST
Samarth Goyal
Samarth Goyal
Hindustan Times
Sonu Sood,Akshay Kumar,Allan Amin
Kannada actors Anil Varma and Raghav Uday died while performing a stunt in Bengaluru on Monday.

Two Kannada actors, Anil Varma (31) and Raghav Uday (38) drowned in a lake on Monday, after a helicopter stunt for a film went wrong in Bengaluru. This has triggered an outrage regarding the film industry’s adherence to safety regulations.

“We’ve registered a case of criminal negligence against the production unit of the film as no precautionary and safety measures were taken for the shoot,” police officer HL Nandeesha was quoted as saying. Action director Allan Amin feels regional cinema has a long way to go in creating awareness regarding stunts. “In this case, had the actors been given wet suits, a tragedy like this wouldn’t have occurred,” he says.

Bollywood, too, is saddened by the news and urges a safety-first approach. “This accident is horrific, shameful and avoidable. I belong to the same space where action scenes have put me in dangerous places. I know what it’s like to risk your life,” says actor John Abraham, who broke his leg while performing a stunt a few months ago.

Earlier this year, actor Akshay Kumar had written an open-letter campaigning an award category for stunt-persons. “It pains me, because I know the one expert that an actor/actress can’t live without, during their shoot, is their stunt buddy... Had it not been for your unbelievable hard work and talent, we’d be mourning the death of so many actors and actresses. Instead, the stunt community is quietly mourning the ones they’ve lost, be it by accident, injury or fatality on the sets of award-winning films over the years,” a part of his open letter read.

Actor Akshay Kumar had earlier written an open letter campaigning for an award category for stuntpersons. (HT Photo)

Filmmaker Sabbir Khan, who has made action films such as Heropanti and Baaghi, says filmmakers should rehearse the action sequences before shooting for them. “It’s important to be aware about the possible dangers and risks involved with that particular scene. Doing stunts is the job of experts. It’s shocking that people don’t spend much time and money on it,” he says.

Actor Sonu Sood is shocked at the carelessness on the part of filmmakers.

Actor Sonu Sood, who has done actions films in Bollywood, South and in international cinema, says the stunt director, film’s director and producers should be answerable for such a shocking case. “People are dying because of filmmakers’ carelessness. The kind of precautions one takes in the West is huge. There are ambulances and doctors present at the shoot location in case something happens. Here, there’s so much pressure on actors to do something, that they do even those stunts which they are not confident about. There needs to be a law against this and it should be treated as a serious offence. The stunt director, film’s director and its producers should be answerable for this,” he says.

With inputs from Subhash K Jha.

First Published: Nov 09, 2016 08:02 IST