The unprecedented Kerala floods led to many celebrities from the Malayalam film industry coming out to support victims and take part in relief work. However, while they've won praise from the general public for their efforts, they've also been criticised.
The financial contributions made by stars from the Malayalam industry have been compared unfavourably with those made by stars from other industries, especially Tamil and Telugu. In fact, one of the first contributions announced from the cinema field was from brothers Suriya and Karthi, who are from the Tamil industry. Both of them together contributed Rs 25 lakh.
Now, the Kerala State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran and actor Sheela have slammed the Malayalam actors for not contributing more. The comments were made in the context of Telugu star Prabhas reportedly making a generous donation for Rs 1 crore towards the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF).
While the minister said that the Malayalam stars should look up to Prabhas as a role model, actor Sheela said that those who travel in cars worth Rs 4 crore should have given more to the relief fund.
"Our state has great actors, those who get Rs 3-4 crores for their films...that's what I've heard. There are actors who get at least Rs 3 crores in our state. All of them should learn from an actor from Andhra who has no inclination towards Malayalam and who has given Rs 1 crore. He did not hesitate, he heard about the tragedy and came," the minister said. Though these were the minister's words, there is no clarity over how much Prabhas has donated and some reports say he too donated RS 25 lakh
Speaking to reporters, actor Sheela, who contributed Rs 5 lakh, said, "There are actors who get paid Rs 1 crore in our state. Why, there is an artist who has a car worth Rs 3-4 crores. But how much do they give?"
Director and choreographer Raghava Lawrence who is from the Tamil industry, had recently announced that he will be giving Rs 1 crore for the relief fund. Actor-politician Vijayakanth had also announced Rs 1 crore for the flood relief programme while Kamal Haasan donated Rs 25 lakh through his Makkal Needhi Maiam party. Actor Vijay, who is hugely popular in Kerala, recently gave Rs 70 lakh for relief materials. Vijay Sethupathi contributed Rs 25 lakh. Nayanthara, who primarily works in Tamil and Telugu films, donated Rs 10 lakh. Several others have also made generous donations.
In the Malayalam industry, Mohanlal donated Rs 25 lakh, Mammootty and Dulquer Salmaan together gave the same amount. Actor Nivin Pauly has also given Rs 25 lakh. The Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) has handed over a sum of Rs 50 lakh in two installments to the Chief Minister.
Nivin Pauly, who was active in relief work during the floods, in a media interaction said that people should contribute to the cause because the damage is extensive. Asked about the contribution of the stars, Nivin said, "Everyone is doing their bit. It's not that everyone has to say what they have done. There have been many from the film industry who've worked sleeplessly from the beginning of the floods. Many of these are people who don't speak openly about it. It's my view that everyone's contributing what they can."
(With inputs from Digital Native)