Metrolife: Kin of stuntmen still await help

Metrolife: Kin of stuntmen still await help

Anil Kumar and Raghava Uday died a year and a half ago doing a daring stunt for the film Maasthigudi. The film industry has forgotten its assurances to their families.

In November 2016, two stuntmen died during the shooting of Kannada film aasthigudi. The crew had not taken enough safety precautions. A motor boat just wouldn’t start, and Raghava Uday (30) and Anil Kumar (37), neither good at swimming, drowned in the waters of the Thippagondanahalli reservoir.
A year and a half later, Metrolife visited their homes to see how their families were faring.

Anil’s little kids children Pranav and Charvi ask, ‘When’s he back?’
Tears well up in the eyes of 63-year-old N Vijaylakshmi as she talks about her son Anil Kumar. He was the family’s only breadwinner, and his wife Ramya, who lives with Anil’s mother, is worried about the education of her children. “Our children Pranav (7) and Charvi (5) still ask for him whenever they watch his films on television. We console them saying he’s out on work and will come soon,” Ramya says.

The family has received Rs 5 lakh as compensation from the government, but no other financial assistance from any industry body, including the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce. Actor Yash, the crew Hebbuli team and Darshan have pitched in with some financial help. “If my son were alive, he would have been the first to rush to the help of anyone in a situation like this. He was large-hearted,” says Vijayalakshmi, even as tears roll down her cheeks. The day before the incident, Anil came home late. In the morning, he ate rice left over from the previous night and rushed out for the shoot. “We saw his smiling face but we never thought it would be the last time. We didn’t even get to see his body,” Vijayalakshmi says. He didn’t tell anyone he was going to do a dangerous stunt. “The question of what really happened that day still haunts us,” she says. “Life is tough, but we are trying to overcome the odds and carry on,” says Harish Kumar, Anil’s brother.

84-yr-old donated rations to Uday’s family
Venkatesh M and V Kausalya, Raghava Uday’s parents, can’t stop talking about him. Venkatesh was visiting the house of a potential bride for Uday when the news of the tragedy broke on television. “My wife and I have still not recovered,” he told Metrolife at their home in Banashankari. Uday worked hard to excel, and wanted to become a film hero. After his death, the industry hasn’t been forthcoming with any help.

“No one has ever bothered to see how we are leading our lives,” says Venkatesh. Help came from Uday’s fans, including an 84-year-old woman who visited the family and gave them some money and rations. “There was another woman from Ballari. She gave us three or four sacks of foodgrains.
These were the people who sincerely helped us,” he recalls. Venkatesh requested the KFCC to start a fund to help families of artistes who lose their lives under such circumstances.
“They assured us they would but we have heard of nothing till now,” he says. Even actor Vijay, hero of Maasthigudi, has not visited the family. Uday was a big fan of Upendra. “He began dressing, walking and even talking like Upendra. He later got a chance to work with him. He was thrilled to bits,” says Kausalya. He was a fitness buff.

Actor Vijay and arrest drama
Police on Friday arrested Kannada actor Duniya Vijay from a resort in Tamil Nadu. He had obstructed them from arresting film producer Sundar P Gowda, accused in the  Maasthigudi drowning case relating to stuntmen Anil and Uday. Vijay secured bail a little later. When the police arrived at Sundar’s house to arrest him as he was not appearing before the court, Vijay engaged them in a long conversation and Sundar escaped, according to the police. Vijay cooked up a story about Sundar’s mother being ill, police claim.

Empty promises
Producer had promised to pursuade government for sites for families of Anil and Uday. He had also promised to build houses for them.

Film fraternity had promised to take care of the education of Anil’s children.

KFCC had promised to create a common fund for the families of both Anil and Uday.

Boat didn’t start
Raghava Uday and Anil Kumar drowned in the Thippagondanahalli reservoir during the shooting of the climax for the Kannada film Maasthigudi. In an interview to television channels just before the tragedy, Uday and Anil had said they didn’t know how to swim. A motor boat that was to rescue them did not start, according to some reports, and the two enthusiastic stuntmen went down gasping as the film’s crew watched helplessly.

Sa Ra Govindu, president of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, says, “We didn’t provide any financial help but we were instrumental in getting the government
to award Rs 5 lakh to each of the two families.”

Rockline Venkatesh, producer and distributor, says, “Such stunts should have at least
two or three layers of security. We should never even try to attempt such stunts today when we have the luxury of using technology.”

Upendra, actor and director: “It is a lesson for everybody in the industry to never attempt anything like this.”