Star in real life: Actor Upendra reaches out to movie industry workers, distributes relief materials
Express News Service
Sandalwood superstar Upendra has become a hero in real-life to people, especially those in the industry, who are struggling to make ends meet due to the blow that Covid restrictions have dealt their livelihood.
When the lockdown was imposed, the actor, director and producer hit the pause button on all his film-related work and plunged into Covid relief efforts through his charity Uppi Foundation.
“Shooting has stopped, theatres are closed… There is absolutely no work in any department… We are making sure the workers, senior actors, and support staff get essentials,” he says. He says that the government has announced a package, but it is yet to reach the workers, who get paid on a daily basis. In the meantime, he has reached out to workers from the workers’ association, such as those who work in music, cinematography, stunts, etc, and even those who work in theatres and film publicity.
“Their primary need is food, which we have been providing with grocery kits sourced from Mandya. But, we have also been receiving inquiries about financial aid, health issues, and we are going by priority,” he says. While Upendra started with helping industry workers, it has expanded to many more different groups of people, and the number of people contributing in cash and kind has also increased, the actor says.
“I always deposited a portion of my earnings into the charity for use for such times.
But now, people have donated Rs 5,000 and even a couple of lakh rupees. My friends living abroad have also lent support by pooling in money. That’s the greatness of the people in a country who come forward during such times,” Upendra says. One of the first to contribute was senior actor Saroja Devi, who donated Rs 4 lakh. “There is a long list of people whom I don’t have a count of,” he says.
Upendra has been releasing updates of relief material coming in and the people it is being given to, on his Twitter account. He has also been acknowledging the people who are helping out. “Transparency is very important. I am listing out names, as this will in a way inspire others,” the actor says.
However, this has not stopped critics who accuse him of furthering his political interests. “From day one, I have been saying that there is no connection between Prajakeeya and the social service which I am doing today. I don’t have any right to ask for votes in the name of doing social service,” he says.
While most of the people engaged in the relief work are Upendra’s own staff, the actor is happy that some relief efforts have given jobs to a few people at least, in terms of packaging, transport and distribution.
“I have also got work now,” the actor says, adding, “I have realised that working for myself is different. Working for others has given us the biggest satisfaction. On the positive side, I should say that humanity still exists among people who are helping more than us, and whose names are not known in public.”
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