Like last year, Sonu Sood has emerged as an icon of hope that thousands are turning to as India battles the devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The actor has helped many who failed to get the much-needed resources — whether an oxygen cylinder or a bed in a hospital — from a visibly struggling healthcare system.
He is not the only one though. Others from Bollywood have also been doing their bit to amplify those in need. Bhumi Pednekar recently announced an initiative to identify resources to enable facilitation and access to medical supplies, plasma request and donors. The actor has been providing help to people posting SOS calls on social media. During the period, Bhumi lost two of her close people in a day and the grief has only strengthened the actor’s resolve.
Around the same time, actor-producer Priyanka Chopra addressed the devastating Covid-19 crisis and brought global attention to the situation in India.
“The Covid-19 situation across India is grave. I’m seeing images and stories coming in from different parts of the country that are so scary… the situation is out of control and our medical fraternity is at a breaking point,” Priyanka wrote on Instagram on April 20. Ten days later, the actor and singer-husband Nick Jonas announced a fundraiser to help India as the country faces the debilitating second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
My heart breaks. India is suffering from COVID19 & the US has ordered 550M more vaccines than needed @POTUS @WHCOS @SecBlinken @JakeSullivan46 Thx for sharing AstraZeneca worldwide, but the situation in my country is critical. Will you urgently share vaccines w/ India? #vaxlive
— PRIYANKA (@priyankachopra) April 26, 2021
Priyanka Chopra also publicly sought help from US President Joe Biden, tagging him in a tweet and writing, “the situation in my country is critical. Will you urgently share vaccines.” She also wrote that while India is suffering from a horrific second wave of the pandemic, the US has ordered 550M more vaccines than needed.”
Superstar Akshay Kumar and wife Twinkle Khanna have donated hundred oxygen concentrators to an organisation. Akshay also pledged Rs 1 crore to politician and former cricketer Gautam Gambhir’s foundation to help those affected by the coronavirus. Director Rohit Shetty, who donated last year for daily-wage workers in Bollywood, has contributed for 250 hospital beds at the Guru Tegh Bahadur COVID Care Centre in Delhi.
Superstar Salman Khan, in a follow up to his previous year’s financial assistance for Bollywood’s daily-wage workers, will be crediting Rs 1500 in the bank accounts of 25,000 industry workers who are facing unemployment due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Federation of Western Indian Cine Employees (FWICE) general secretary, Ashoke Dubey told indiaexpress.com, “Salman Khan’s manager spoke to BN Tiwari (FWICE president) and asked us to send details of 25,000 workers from the federation. The star will be crediting Rs 1500 in each one’s bank account. He was helpful even last year when Covid first hit India, and he is back at it again.”
Recently, Salman also distributed refreshments and meals to the frontline workers like medical and police personnel, BMC workers and cleaners in Mumbai. In a move to help the country, which is battling with the second wave of the virus, the actor also declared that a portion of the revenue generated by his upcoming film Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai will go towards Covid-19 relief work.
Daily-wage workers, whose lives were upended by the coronavirus-induced lockdown last year, were slowly getting back on their feet early this year as shooting of several big films began. But all hopes of returning to normalcy dashed as Maharashtra saw a surge in Covid-19 cases late March and by mid-April, the state government discontinued film, television and advertisement shoots. Along with loss of financial security, daily-wage workers also stared at life risk as no shooting meant no clear picture about vaccination, which many production houses had earlier assured to the workers.
But as the coronavirus situation in the country worsened and the government announced vaccination open for people aged between 18 and 45, Yash Raj Films said on May 8 that it would vaccinate 30,000 members of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE).
The decision was in adherence to YRF’s previous assurance to the FWICE that it would get a certain number of workers vaccinated against Covid-19. The Aditya Chopra-led company is the first leading production house in the country to have taken the onus of vaccination of industry members.
Oxygen shortage has been one of the biggest crisis that the second Covid-19 wave has caused. Not only have common people put SOS calls requesting urgent oxygen supply for their family members diagnosed with Covid-19, even several hospitals have raised alarms about their oxygen supplies lasting only for hours.
While Sonu Sood has been the go-to person for people suffering due to the severe oxygen shortage in several parts of the country, many celebrities like Anushka Sharma, Raveena Tandon and Sara Ali Khan have also contributed to raise funds for oxygen supplies. While Anushka and Virat have donated Rs 2 crores to their own fundraiser which aims to raise Rs 7 crore in total, Raveena Tandon has sent oxygen cylinders for Covid-19 patients in Delhi. Sara Ali Khan has contributed to the Sonu Sood Foundation to help purchase cylinders. Others such as Taapsee Pannu are helping amplify demands of those in need on social media.