August 5, 2009 7:06:36 PM IST Bollywood Trade News Network
She might have played a horse-cart owner in the movie SHOLAY, but in real life, veteran film star Hema Malini wants to give every one of the horses forced to give "joyrides" in Mumbai a rest - permanently. That's why Bollywood's dream girl has written a letter on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India to Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak urging him to ban cruel and dangerous horse carts from the city's busy - and often stiflingly hot - streets.
"In SHOLAY, I had a terrific co-star named Dhanno", writes Hemaji. "Luckily, this affable character will never know the misery that her cousins who are forced to pull 'joy carts' endure. My heart breaks when I see the wretched conditions endured by horses who give 'joyrides' on beaches, in parks in many parts of the city as their legs ache, their stomachs yearn for nourishment, their throats become parched and the sun beats down on their backs."
Why are Hemaji and PETA saying "neigh" to horse carts? PETA investigators have discovered that horses are fed unwholesome food and dirty drinking water - if they receive any nourishment at all. Stables are often damp, filthy and infested with flies and other biting insects, which are attracted to the animals' accumulated faeces and urine. Many horses are forced to work and stand for hours in the blazing sun without any shade.
Horse carts are also dangerous. The animals must negotiate busy streets clogged with cars, bikes and pedestrians and are often involved in deadly accidents. Over the years, horses and people have been seriously injured and even killed.
Writes Hemaji, "My work as an entertainer brings me joy, but the horses' lot is a joyless one".
Actor and long-time PETA supporter John Abraham has also worked on behalf of Mumbai's horses, asking the collector of Mumbai to ban horse-drawn carts.