Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Cinema shooting ! - accidents and the response !!

Insurers provide covers, they  take care of risks ~ not all risks are insurable.  Ideally, some basic criteria of risks being definite, financially measurable, not too unique posing challenges in rating and charging appropriate premium, not being random in nature and the like are to be met, to make it an ‘insurable risk’ – a risk that conforming to the specifications of the Insurers, the definitions of which may remain complex, dynamic and different based on the size and understanding of an Insurer.

A few years back – in the dead of night, an ambulance arrived at Devaki hospital – a man with cuts and bleeding injuries all over the body was admitted – was informed that he was injured badly while performing a stunt sequence.  Those around him were discussing of whether or not to inform his young wife of the accident and .. .. how to arrange money for the immediate treatment ! – sad tale of a junior artiste, part of the ‘dream industry’ where heroes utter punch dialogue and rake in crores (yet do not pay taxes !) – that even after earning so many crores, they too turn pauper is not the subject matter of this post. 

The Tamil cinema industry woke up to the tragic news of three people, on the sets of the Kamal Haasan-starrer Indian 2, being crushed to death after a crane fell on them. Assistant director Krishna, art assistant Chandran and production assistant Madhu were killed in the mishap that occurred at 10 pm on Wednesday. Nine others, who were injured while working on the Shankar directorial, were rushed to a private hospital in Poonamallee.  While the news came as a shock to many, important questions have been raised on the responsibility of production houses — in this case, Lyca Productions — towards their employees; the responsibility of the film Directors and that of the Heroes for whom great risks are taken.  Also there are many unanswered Qs  about the way in which Kollywood deals with accidents and mishaps that take place on film sets.

According to media reports,  the men were preparing to set up the place for shooting a fight scene of director Shankar's 'Indian 2' starring actor Kamal Hasaan.  A day later, Kamal reportedly visited the Kilpauk Hospital mortuary to meet the family members of the deceased after which he told media, "I have come here because they are family to me. I do not feel this accident has happened on the production of Lyca but I feel it has happened to someone in my family," – he further added - "It is shameful that our cinema industry is still not able to provide proper working conditions for its technicians. We boast about big-budget films but I think the entire cinema fraternity should work towards providing safe working conditions for the technicians which will be the only treatment to this incident."   Easy words but it is for those who are in the industry and who have made money to ponder whether at any point the lives and living of such insignificant people who too work in the same industry has ever been respected and cared for !.

This is not to blame the hero, director or the production house – but lessons are hardly learnt.  Mishaps, injuries and loss of life are not new to the industry.  Way back in 1914, while filing on location in Canon city, Colorado, for the movie ‘Across the Border’, cast member Grace McHugh was filming a scene where her character was crossing the Arkansas River in a boat. When the boat capsized, camera operator Owen Carter immediately jumped into the river to save her. He dragged her onto a sandbar that was reported to be quicksand. The rest of the film crew watched helplessly as they were sucked into the sandbar and drowned.

There have been many many instances -  in 1982, Vic Morrow and two child actors, Renee Shinn Chen and Myca Dinh Le, were killed in an accident involving a helicopter during filming on the California set of Twilight Zone: The Movie.   In 2016,  in a helicopter stunt for the Kannada film Masthigudi went horribly wrong. Duniya Vijay, Uday and Anil jumped into the Thippagondanahalli Reservoir, 35km west of Bengaluru, from a helicopter. Vijay came out, but the other two were drowned and lost their lives.  In 1994 on the sets of ‘The Crow’ directed by Alex Proyas, Brandon Lee  was accidentally wounded on set during filming by defective blank ammunition and later died in the hospital during surgery.   In 2017, Chi Po-lin along with his assistant Chen Kuan-chi and pilot Chang Chi-kuang died in a helicopter crash in a mountainous area in Hualien County's Fengbin Township. The group was shooting footage for the sequel to Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above, which was scheduled for release in 2019.

Human lives are precious and there cannot be no replacement – but there can at least be just compensation – for which Insurance is available, not all producers arrange for such insurances though.  Movies are insured – though not all Insurers have a Policy nor consider this insurable. The special specific policy has differential sections of coverage where limits of indemnity are taken by the proposer.  There is insurance for Cast (indemnity for death / criticial illness and the like); Props, Sets, wardrobes, equipments, extra expenses, public liability and the like.  There could be material damage to props, sets, wardrobes and equipments and there could be consequential losses caused by such cancellations / delays and more.  There can be cover for film negative !, extra expenses, public liability and .. .. personal accident, which again is taken only for key people and not for all – those doing small roles are often neglected. 

There are lessons to be learnt and such accidents should make people realise the need for protecting, planning properly and ensuring that financial compensation is made available.  Sad – for entertaining people and in trying to produce thrilling scenes, some get injured and some lose their lives too.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

No comments:

Post a Comment