BOLLYWOOD FILMS OF THE WEEK
First, it was Akshay...While shooting for Priyadarshan's "Garam Masala", he banged his head against a wooden cabinet, leading to profuse bleeding.
Recalling the experience Akshay says: "There was panic on the sets. The blood just wouldn't stop. Everyone thought it was far more serious than it actually was. I was advised stitches. But I chose to use ayurvedic healing...I never take allopathic medicines...But it immediately reminded him of the other incident during 'Khakee' in Nashik..."
Akshay is talking about the freak accident two years ago when during a chase stunt, a car spun out of control and hit Aishwarya Rai, hurling her into a bush.
"We thought she was gone," shudders Akshay. "Just how she managed to remain unhurt is a mystery to us all...But, yes, we certainly need to be more careful with ourselves. After all we've responsibilities on so many levels...to our family, fans, producers and to ourselves. Look at what had happened to Amitabh Bachchan during 'Coolie'."
In what's unarguably the most celebrated celebrity accident in India, Bachchan was delivered a near-fatal blow on his solar plexus during the shooting of Manmohan Desai's "Coolie" in 1982.
Struggling between life and death for months as the nation prayed for him, Bachchan realised how much he owed to his fans.
"It was the most life-changing experience of my life," recalls the Big B. "And when during the shooting of 'Khakee' Aishwarya was hurled away from her chair into the far-away bushes, I relived the whole experience in my mind, wondering if this film industry will ever learn from its past experiences."
Laughs the actor uneasily, "It's a hamstring tear. Should be okay in about five weeks. Fortunately, it happened during the one extra take that I requested from dad for the last action shot for 'Krissh'. Luckily for us, all my stunts were over when this mishap happened. Otherwise I shudder to think how deeply this setback would've affected our schedule."
In 2003, Vivek Oberoi had badly fractured his leg during the shooting of Mani Ratnam's "Yuva". A stunt rider who was supposed to go past him in a bike instead hit him accidentally, hurtling him almost 15 feet ahead.
It looks like leading men will continue to take grave risks.
"Shouldn't we all start thinking deeply over this matter before something seriously catastrophic happens?" asks Kamal Haasan who spun out of control on a hurling motorbike and crashed into a roof during a stunt sequence for his latest film "Mumbai Xpress".
"The little boy who was on the pillion and I had a providential escape. I may not be that lucky the next time. It's time we stopped doing unreasonably dangerous things. They certainly don't get us anywhere. Today, it's the hospital, tomorrow it could be the morgue."
Shah Rukh Khan who has taken infinite risks even for light-hearted film moments - during the "Chalte Chalte" shooting crashed into a barrage of luggage trolleys at the airport just days before he was to undergo major back surgery - says nothing can equal the exhilaration of doing one's own stunts.
"But at the end of the day we need to look at a much larger picture than the one that flickers in the movie theatres," Shah Rukh warns.