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We want to ensure actors don’t get into any pitiable condition: Nupur Alankar on CINTAA's outreach programme

On Dulari's 90th birth anniversary today, we congratulate the organisation that financially helped the forgotten actress during the last years of her life.


Mayur Lookhar

In an industry where a star is often lonely at the top, failure only leads to a dark abyss. The film industry is replete with tales of despair, often featuring unsung heroes.

One such artiste was actress Dulari who was seen in over 135 films including Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai (1961), Mujhe Jeene Do (1963), Teesri Kasam (1967), Deewar (1975). Dulari began her acting career in 1943 with Humari Baat and mostly did character roles thereafter. By the time she turned an octogenarian, she was a forgotten, abandoned actress. Her only daughter has been settled in Australia, while Dulari suffered from the Alzheimer's disease.

Reportedly, veteran actress Waheeda Rehman brought her plight to Cine & TV Artists Association's (CINTAA) notice and the organisation moved quickly to help and provided financial help in the last few years of Dulari's life. Dulari passed away in an old age home in Pune on 18 January 2013.

On her 90th birth anniversary today (she was born on 18 April 1928), we congratulate CINTAA for its efforts and try to know more about their outreach programme.

In 2016, senior artiste Ghanshyam Shrivastav mooted the idea of an outreach programme and CINTAA's general secretary, Sushant Singh, brought the idea to the core committee where it was unanimously approved. The programme was aimed towards connecting with all senior artistes over the age of 65.

Amit Behl

“Outreach is a care and connect programme. It has helped us to connect with lot of our members, who are struggling financially, not in good health, going through depression. It’s not just problems, but we want to connect to members for certain celebrations too. Like we could celebrate World Theatre Day together, have a musical/performance together. So, it is not only in time of grief... we believe that as a family, we should be connected through most times,” said Amit Behl, senior joint secretary, CINTAA, who also heads the outreach programme.

“Care and connect also means tying up with other acting associations, acting institutes, and hospitals. Care and connect is major part of our outreach programme. We did studio visits, post production visits of about 93 studios in the city. We submitted reports to the government, fire department, to the producers regarding many things — safety, fire, sanitation, working standards. It has been welcomed by most studios, production houses. We are now also associated with IFA [International Federation of Actors],” Behl added.

Writer, historian, columnist Shishir Krishna Sharma was the last person to have interviewed the late actress. She had sold off her Mumbai flat and shifted back to Indore, to live with her daughter. “I was informed by a nephew of Dulari ji that she had come down to Mumbai. I met her at the residence of Purnima ji. This was in around 2004-2005. She seemed all fine then. It’s difficult to recall the entire conversation, but one thing that stuck with me was when she said that she was a bad dancer," said Sharma.

The writer never met the actress again. And it was only later in 2012 that he learnt of her ill health. “Sadly, I could never meet her again. I learnt that she had dementia and was taking shelter in an old age home in Pune. I believe her daughter was settled abroad. It was only after her death that I came to know that she was getting financial aid from CINTAA.

TV actress Nupur Alankar is an executive member of CINTAA and is also part of the care and connect committee.

Nupur Alankar

“We want to ensure that the actors don’t get into any pitiable condition. One way out is that we are going to interview all senior members, especially those who’ve crossed age 80, and we are interviewing them in their house. We will get to know about their life journey, we will learn so many things from that. Indirectly, we will come to know of their condition. All of it will have to be done without compromising on their respect and honour,” Alankar said.

Those who have benefited from the programme include Pakeezah (1972) actress Geeta Kapoor and actress Rehana Sultan.

While this programme may not necessarily help former stalwarts of the industry, it benefits those artistes who have spent their lives doing character roles in films and television.

We met one such artiste, Laddoo Jain, who credits CINTAA for saving his life. The 66-year-old was seen in films like Shadyantra (1990), Akshay Kumar’s Tarazu (1997) and Ishq Vishk (2003). His wife has long passed away, while his children have moved out. The man lives alone, and last year, suffered a heart attack.

Laddoo Jain

“I live alone. One evening I felt severe pain in the chest. I called Ashok Chavan [a CINTAA member] who rushed to my aid. A doctor came to see me. They gave me some medicines. I was then asked to rush to the nearest hospital. If it wasn’t for Chavan and this programme, I would have lost my life,” Jain said.

There are many more such cases. Not revealing the name, Alankar briefly mentioned another case where a CINTAA member stayed with the wife of an actor during a difficult phase.

“There was an actor who wasn’t present home, but some problem occurred in the night. The CINTAA member went to the actor’s house, comforted his wife. She spent the night just to ensure that the lady doesn’t feel lonely. We want to create such moral, emotional support,” she said.

Doling out large amounts of money for aid for a single person might not be possible since the association has financial limitations. Has CINTAA approached wealthy artistes to contribute for such cause?

“The problem with the big stars is that they simply don’t respond. That is the bitter truth. Our approach is no good unless we get a proper reply. Nevertheless, efforts are on to reach out to them. There have been instances where some big stars went through their bad phases. Some of them, like Parveen Babi, could never come out of their depressive phase. I sincerely appeal to the big stars that they should come and help out of their own will. You can’t impose anything,” Alankar replied with a sigh.