Faith in humanity has been restored at various points this year in unimaginable yet heartwarming ways. People stepping up to make a difference in small and big ways alike have inspired the world to come closer and build stronger communities.
On August 19, World Humanitarian Day is celebrated to commemorate humanitarian heroes who selflessly serve global causes, here’s a look at those who became real-life heroes in the film industry and made magnanimous gestures to assist people from all walks of life worst hit by the cruel pandemic.
Even as we unanimously continue to honour all aid and health workers who continue to provide life-saving support and protection to people most in need, a salute is in order for these five celebrities whose humanity went beyond caste, creed or background and only aimed at making a change.
The world will continue to face crises like COVID-19 and celebrities taking steps towards change are nothing short of inspiring for those who can help as well. The world will never stop needing #RealLifeHeroes to help in extreme circumstances, like these celebrities who stepped up when they had to.
Ironically seen frequently in the role of a villain, Sonu Sood defied all prior perceptions about him by emerging as a hero going out of his way to help the worst hit during the lockdown. His first step of many was opening up his Juhu Hotel to accommodate healthcare workers and distributing food and essentials to 25,000 migrants left wanting due to the lockdown.
He went on to arrange busses, trains, and even a plane, where needed, to help migrant workers reach home, providing food, water, and sanitizers to ensure they have a safe and comfortable trip back home. Named ‘Ghar Bhejo’, this initiative involved flagging off 21 buses carrying 750 migrants to Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, airlifting 177 girls from Ernakulam (Kerala) to Bhubaneswar (Odisha), and even sending people to West Bengal, Jharkhand and Assam. The actor also donated over 1,500 PPE kits to doctors across Punjab.
Associated widely for his good-cop brand of cinema, Rohit Shetty supported the community closest to his heart. The director-producer was seen helping on-duty police personnel by facilitating 11 hotels with unlimited occupancy who were faced with taking on the virus in the streets of Mumbai. A grateful Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh also publicly thanked Shetty for his selfless help and support “for the men and women in Khaki” since April. Soon after the nationwide lockdown began, Shetty had arranged for rest, shower and clothes changing facility along with breakfast and dinner in hotels across the city for on-duty police officers serving the city in these trying times.
For the ‘Chehre’ and ‘The Big Bull’ producer, if there is one thing that worries him apart from his family, it was how his technicians and daily wage workers were looked after. Not a man to detail the what, where and how of his contributions, Pandit ensured that the silent workers of all his blockbuster films weren’t forgotten during the pandemic. From financial aid to pitching in to ensure they got regular supplies of essential goods, Pandit left no stone unturned to relieve the plight of the daily wage earners hit directly by the lockdown. Apart from running Anand Pandit Motion Pictures, he also spearheads the luxury real estate company Lotus Developers, whose pillars are the daily wage workers on his many construction sites. Hundreds of them were provided with essential groceries like rice, potatoes, onions, pulses, wheat flour, sugar, and oil for laborers and security guards working on his projects.
A name often associated with generous acts in the industry, Akshay Kumar stepped up yet again to do everything he could. The first Bollywood star to step up by donating Rs 25 crore to PM-CARES fund, the ‘Khiladi’ actor made a number of efforts, in cash as well as kind. He contributed Rs 3 crore to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), who have been working overtime to ensure thorough COVID-19 monitoring and testing. Kumar also donated 1,000 wrist bands to Mumbai police which would help them in early detection of the virus, along with PPE, masks and rapid testing kits for healthcare personnel. He even pledged his support to the Mumbai Police, not leaving out those who are safeguarding the city.
A quiet yet formidable force in the industry, Ajay Devgn went above and beyond in his efforts to contribute towards pandemic relief. Along with providing essential ration to 700 needy families, he covered costs to provide a quarantine centre in Mumbai’s Dharavi area with oxygen cylinders for 200 beds and two portable ventilators. This meant a 200-bed Covid-19 field hospital built in 15 days to serve as a dedicated Covid-19 health centre and treat all patients, except those who are very critical. As work began, Devgn quietly approached civic officials and offered help. A quiet force making a difference, Devgn’s contributions are fondly appreciated by many in the city.