By Namrata Kumar:
A ‘fighting sequence’ is a quintessential ingredient in all Bollywood movies. It always acts as the perfect crescendo to every movie, where good always wins over evil. As much as we enjoy such scenes, have we ever taken a second to think about the ‘real‘ heroes and heroins behind the set?
Each year, there are enthusiasts (both men and recently women) who show a keenness to this particular craft, they enjoy the adrenalin rush one gets by doing stunts and thus do not mind entering this industry. With no or very poor insurance coverage and a meager salary ranging between Rs 1,500-Rs 8,000 depending on the stunt, stuntmen have no fear as they walk into this extremely unpredictable path of stunts. Their counterparts in Hollywood earn just about the same as the stars and there is no doubt that they are better covered. The other day I was watching a documentary on stuntmen and realized that the situation of some of them is rather saddening. Although they enjoy taking risks by falling down from skyscrapers, helicopters or performing somersaults with cars and many such stunts, chances of fatally injuring themselves is very high.
Certain small budget movies, especially in the south, where a ‘fighting sequence‘ is a must, producers don’t take the necessary precautions- for instance,often ambulances or a medical team are not kept on stand by when such sequences are shot, these are impromptu scenes which are shot and it is quite literally ‘a life or death situation.‘ Most accidents take place in such scenarios and unfortunately this has led to paralysis and sometimes death. Ironically despite the circumstances this has not stopped enthusiasts. With time, the Stuntmen’s Association of India or the Movie Stunt Artists’ Association has realized the importance of medical insurance, training and a proper substantial income. They have thus taken requisite steps to ensure the same, however it completely depends on the producers. Some of the top-notch producers such as Karan Johar, Aditya Chopra and the likes have taken such steps, however, often such requests fall onto deaf ears; particularly those producers who try to cut down on expenditure as far as possible. Clearly, item numbers and peppy music is more essential than safety precautions.
The next important thing is recognition. A lot of people enter this industry with the dream of becoming stunt directors. Why? Because apart from the pay being very good, stunt directors get fame and recognition. Stuntmen are basically the unsung heroes of Bollywood. They are the ones who make movies adventurous and enjoyable to watch. It is therefore important to bring to light of this issue to the Film Federation of India. Possibly, with their help a rule can be implemented where better safety precautions can be taken for stuntmen on every possible set whether the project is big or small. Also, a request can be made where the Federation can conduct an event or a ceremony specifically for stuntmen or even initiate it into the filmfare fraternity where awards are distributed to the most deserving. After all, a life is worth more than a few lack and who doesn’t like a boost of encouragement and recognition? Don’t you think they deserve this much from both the filmfare and the audience?