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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Appreciate Nana Patekar for being a real hero - making difference to poverty-stricken farmers !!!

According to UNICEF, more than 30 per cent of children in developing countries – about 600 million – live on less than US $1 a day.Every 3.6 seconds one person dies of starvation. Usually it is a child under the age of 5.Poverty hits children hardest. While a severe lack of goods and services hurts every human, it is most threatening to children’s rights: survival, health and nutrition, education, participation, and protection from harm and exploitation.

Poverty is not unfamiliar to India; often we hear and read a lot of sad and pitiful stories about farmers committing suicide due to it. The reasons for it also include monsoon failure, high debt burdens, genetically modified crops, government policies, public mental health, personal issues and family problems. Perhaps some blame is due to erstwhile rulers – the British who systematically robbed our Nation of its resources !

My knowledge of Cinema is low, and when it comes to Bollywood, it is almost nil.  Have heard of this film ~ Krantiveer which grossed some awards in 1994.  Read that it was remade in Telugu as PunyaBhoomiNaaDesam (1995) with Mohan Babu and in Kannada as Parodi (2007) withUpendra.  The film’s hero was Nana Patekar.  Vishwanath Nana Patekar, born in Raigad and another - MakarandAnaspure deserve greater coverage in media and all appreciation for their attitude and action.  They decided to help the families of the deceased farmers with some financial assistance.

We all know Nana Patekar for being the amazing actor that he is, but here is a side of him that most of us might not be aware of. The veteran actor is associated with the cause against farmer suicides in Maharashtra. Not only does he extend financial aid to each of the suffering families, he personally visits them, initiates conversation and has even made himself accessible to them at all times. "If you ever think of committing suicide, please give me a call first," he said to farmers at an event in Maharashtra recently.

On 18th Aug had a good article featuring Nana Patekar – which is partly reproduced here :

While doing his bit to help poor farmers in Maharashtra, Nana Patekar says he is worried that they might just rise up in revolution if not helped immediately....Nana Patekar's is a fascinating story. He is a 'star' who would rather travel in an autorickshaw than buy a luxury car for himself, and decides to spend his hard earned money on the grieving families of farmers who have committed suicide. The actor has shown us what it takes to be a conscientious citizen by quietly practising what he doesn't even preach.

It is not often that you come across someone like Nana. While most of us on an everyday basis read the pitiful stories of farmers, who are ending their lives due to penury and poverty, and then move on, Nana decided to do something about it. He's been visiting the widows of the farmers and extending financial assistance.At the same time, he is trying to start a dialogue with the government to aid their cause. Prod him about it and he brushes it off initially. "I am not doing a big deal. All of us want to help, but most of us are not sure if the money we want to give will reach the right people. So, I decided to visit these people myself and help them," he says.

Nana has visited 112 widows in MarathwadaBeed and now he plans to interact with 700 more in Nagpur, Latur, Hingoli, Parbani, Nanded, Aurangabad, Usmanabad, Jalna, Bhusawal, Jalgaon, etc. He says, "I just received a call from DevendraFadnavis (Maharashtra chief minister). We have been friends before he became the CM. I can talk to him one on one. At the same time, I can go to farmers and talk to them. I am hoping my being a mediator will help."

Why the farmer's issue? "Right now, it is of utmost importance. Today, I heard someone committed suicide. If after 69 years of independence, we can't provide water and electricity to people, it is ridiculous. Now the BJP has taken over, earlier there was Congress. We need to take these things seriously. I feel it is time for a revolution. If a farmer can kill himself, tomorrow he can kill you. Look at the level of his frustration. Beware, this situation could become dangerous. Their helplessness could turn into rage, they might turn Naxalites. You are creating that kind of a situation. Just give them electricity and water, which is their basic right. Come on, they provide you bread," he states.

For someone who comes from a humble background himself, isn't he insecure of not having money when he's giving away most of what he's earned?"Paisa is a by-product. I will get it anyway. Rs 10 crore or Rs 100 crore won't give me security. I feel secure by doing this. It is only a bandage on a huge wound. But in the process I am securing that human being that is still alive in me. Everyone will forget me if I stop acting in films. You won't come to interview me, but I know that those people (farmers) will remember me for life," he says matter-of-factly.

Ask him about certain uncomfortable changes that are taking place in the country and he simply says, "Why would I care about what they are banning? They should know that before implementing bans. Their responsibility is to provide basic things to the people. Sixty five per cent of the populace lives in villages and for them, nothing matters as long as they get basic facilities like electricity and water. Unfortunately, we have not been able to provide them even that."

The other person associated - Makarand Anaspure is a popular actor  on television who has featured in Marathi movies, known for his comedy and intelligent roles in Marathi cinema.

Remember – ‘Bommalattam’ directed by the Bharathiraja! ~the opening shot was director Rana shooting a scene with his film’s heroine and not happy with her performance – that was Nana Patekar !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26th Aug 2015.

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