Akshay Kumar: I have seen a young stuntman die in front of my eyes
In mid-day's exclusive conversation series, Sit With Hitlist, Akshay Kumar, who was once a stuntman reveals what made him launch an Insurance Policy for stuntmen in Hindi film industry
Once a stuntman himself, a sports and martial arts enthusiast, Akshay Kumar is one of the Bollywood actors, who has worked for the betterment of the lives of the stuntmen/stuntwomen in the Hindi film industry. Back then, the stunt artistes were the most ignored crew. Even after giving their sweat and blood, and life-threatening stunts, they barely earned peanuts. Akshay, who saw a young boy die in front of his eyes while a car stunt, decided that he wanted to do something for the stuntmen/stuntwomen.
Taking this zeal with him ahead, Akshay set up a unique initiative - an insurance scheme for the stunt artists in the Hindi film industry. The scheme is the brainchild of martial-arts expert - Akshay Kumar and cardiologist Dr. Ramakant Panda. It should be noted that Bollywood is the only film industry where the stuntmen are insured.
In mid-day's exclusive conversation series, Sit With Hitlist, the Khiladi of Bollywood, Akshay Kumar shed some light on this topic and what inspired him to bring this change in the lives of stuntmen. Answering about it, the martial-artist, black-belt achiever said, "I am happy to say that every fighter now has insurance. Hindi films' stuntmen are the only insured people. This practise has yet to reach Tamil and Telugu industries. Those men also need to be insured. I remember, once I was wearing my knee pads on the sets, that I had got from Bangkok. The stunt-master came up to me and said, "Kya kar raha hai, beta. Chand pe jaa raha hai. Mera bhi ghutna toota hai, theek hai. [What're you doing, son? Are you going to the moon? Even I've broken my knee, it's okay!]." There was such lack of knowledge."
Further, elaborating about the tragic death of the young stuntman, Akshay said, "I have seen someone die. I can never forget that. He was a young boy, doing a car stunt. He waved out at all of us. And then the crash happened. We all went running. But by the time we got him out, he had snapped his neck. People don't understand that there is a lot of physics behind stunts. You've to understand it better. Suppose, if someone has to jump from a high-rise or even from a chopper, what you think is the middle point, where you have to land, is actually not the mid-point. You have to take into consideration the airspeed which will shift you from it. I remember someone had to jump from a height, and land on boxes, and he fell out of it. People blamed me for it, said he was trying to copy me. People need to understand that every stunt - be it jumps, or those involving fire, skidding on a motorcycle - can be calculated. Stuntmen don't take proper care. They've started to off late. Earlier, we used to lose our men, left, right, centre."
The 'Rustom' actor has even urged the Award-show organisers to pay equal respect to stuntmen. Along with the revolution, the star has simultaneously brought peace and happiness in the lives of these people. The Movie Stunt Artist association couldn't thank the actor enough for launching the Insurance policy, who considers himself a stuntman before an actor.
Read the in-depth 'Sit With Hitlist' interview of Akshay Kumar with mid-day, where the 'Airlift' actor also spoke about losing out on Aamir Khan's film 'Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar' (1993), his first pay-cheque, his audition days and many other unknown fascinating facets from his life before hitting stardom.
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