Celebrity Charity Is A Tricky Thing!

An innocent tweet by Jaaved Jafari praising Salman Khan for donating Rs 12 crores to Kerala for flood relief, has fuelled a whole debate on celebrities and their right to broadcast their altruistic instincts.

Apparently, Salman had not donated the said amount and the mortified Jaffrey had to hastily delete the tweet.

A close friend of Salman says, “Salman definitely intends to donate to Kerala. But to make up a sum and putting it out in public is putting undue pressure on him. Doing charity or giving to a good cause should come naturally to the celebrity. It shouldn’t be forced on him. Salman was “informed” that had donated Rs 12 crores. It came as a surprise  to him since he hadn’t done anything of the kind.”

An actress who works relentlessly for the destitute children says Bollywood is only interested in charity when there is publicity to accompany it. “The cameras and media persons reach the venue of charity first. The person giving to charity arrives then. Any work of charity that is publicized loses it relevance.”

However, actress-activist Shabana Azmi defends her fraternity’s right to give where and when it wants. “You can’t decide for the celebrity whether he or she is giving out of good faith or for publicity. When I went on a hunger strike for the rights of slum dwellers I was accused of doing it for publicity. Log toh bolenge. Unka kaam hai bolna (people will talk). That shouldn’t deter us from doing the good work we want to do.”

Says filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, “What the film industry needs is a solid health fund for ailing artistes, so we don’t have talented filmmakers dying for the want of the best medical care.”

There are chilling stories of stars falling on hard days. The legendary Meena Kumari died in the servant’s room of a  bungalow purchased by her. Generous to a fault, she had gifted a bungalow to her sister Madhu and her husband the comedian Mehmood. The couple was “kind” enough to let their benefactor spend her last days in the outhouse where they served her one meal a day.

What happened to all her earnings?  What happened to all of the Tamil-Telugu superstar Savitri’s earnings? Like Meena Kumari, Savitri hit the bottle and… well, you only have too see her bio-pic Mahanati to discover the similarities between the doomed lives of the two legendary actresses.

Meena Kumari invested in the wrong projects and people. She paid for it. Her plight was better than poor Vimi’s. Once a B R Chopra heroine she fall on hard days and drank herself to death. There was no one to claim her body when she died.

Asks Bhansali, “Why can’t the  Indian film industry take care of its own? Make sure that its denizens are looked after in their lean days.”

Kalpana Lajmi should be getting the best medical treatment by right. She shouldn’t have to depend on the largesse of some actors who make 65-80 crores per film and feel very good about themselves after giving a few lakhs to soldiers’ widows and colleagues who have seen better days.

As Kalpana lies alone in her illness does she regret spending all her savings looking after her mentor and beloved Bhupen Hazarika? Or does she feel happy to have touched the lapels love in an environment of singeing self-interest?

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