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Mastigudi Accident – What Lessons Can the Industry Learn?

It is unfortunate that two supporting artists, Anil and Uday have died while performing stunts for the movie ‘Mastigudi’. While people are pointing fingers and blaming, it will sure be a time for the TV news channels to have long discussions and the blame game will continue to keep the TRP soaring high. But, this is not the time for blaming, but for self introspection.

I remember while shooting for the movie Rangitaranga, the Hollywood cinematographer Lance Kaplan had freaked out at the way in which Kannada movies carry out shooting without safety measures. He was not even referring to the action scenes, but was just commenting on the safety measures while shooting usual scenes.

It was late 90s, when during the shooting of a movie named ‘Ticket Tickets’ starring Sai Kumar had a scene of Ganapathi Festival and a song was being shot. To add glamour to the song, low intensity bombs were used to blast colors. While carrying out this process, the man in charge ‘Bomb Ravi’ (or probably Surya) died due to accidental explosion. Thereafter, for some years, bomb explosions were stopped. People in the Government had said that they will look into the issue, but what really happened next? Nothing!

Fast forward, it is 2016 now and we are still left clueless about how people could drown and why no safety measures were taken. At least, were those artists not given life jacket? Crores are spent to pay remuneration to the lead actors. Lakhs are spent on graphics work, why can’t the producers spend a few thousand rupees on the security measures? Is human life so cheap? The producers of Maastigudi had planned to come out with a 3D Game based on Mastigudi and had shown some preview. 3D animation and gaming surely doesn’t come cheap. So, they had spent a few lakhs for the 3D game for sure. Why not for the safety of these supporting artists?

You check the interview given by most of the producers to TV Channels, they will tell the clichéd statement, “We have produced the movie richly. We have not compromised on anything. The expenses went more than our budget, but still we went for it to get the desired quality.” So, most producers do not compromise on the budget to get the desired quality, but why is it they compromise when it comes to the safety of these artists?

The remuneration of most leading actors doesn’t include the perks they get. Perks are extra expenses that need be shelled out by the producer. These perks include the remuneration of the lead actors’ assistants, their personal make up men and other expenses. I am not saying these facilities should not be provided. When you can pay for the lead artists, why not pay a bit more for the safety measures. Why it the price of bringing down the movie budget always the cost of a human life and cheap labour?

I am not blaming anyone in this specific incident. All I am saying is that, the industry as a whole should have uniform policy for the supporting artists, stunt masters and other workers who risk their lives shooting the risky scenes. It is not only the supporting artists, stunt masters who risk their life, there are other technicians also who risk their life. If the camera unit people didn’t risk their life, we wouldn’t have seen that chilling Jog Falls scene in Mungaru Male! It is high time the safety measures become a priority and also there needs to be some insurance policy for the workers who risk their lives.

-Gagan K
(Writer is a researcher)

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