Assistant director Krishna, art assistant Chandran, and Madhu, a production assistant, were killed and nine others were grievously injured when a crane in which heavy camera equipment was placed allegedly fell on them on the sets of Kamal Haasan’s Indian 2 on Wednesday. Kamal Haasan on Thursday announced a compensation of Rs 1 crore as compensation for the families of the deceased.
Speaking to the media, he said, “It was an accident and I had a narrow escape. I feel sad that workers in cinema do not have proper safety measures. Proper insurance coverage should be given to all workers in the cinema field.”
Lyca Productions, the makers of Indian 2, had erected huge sets at the EVP Studios in Chennai and the shooting had been going on for the last few days.
A day earlier, actor Ajith met with a freak bike accident on the sets of Valimai. Vishnu Vishal suffered a major spinal injury recently during a fight sequence in Kaadan directed by Solomon. And we have seen several stuntmen getting badly or even fatally injured while being a body double to big actors during risky stunts.
DC speaks to filmmakers, stunt masters and actors regarding the kind of safety measures in place on the sets, and insurance coverage in an industry which churns out 200 to 250 movies in a year.
This is not the first time lives are being lost while shooting at EVP Studios, which was an amusement park earlier. After a fatal mishap that took place at a car ride at the park, it was shut down for several years, only to reopen as EVP Film City later. The premises were rented out for film shootings as it has vast lands on which massive sets can be erected.
In 2017, a crew member named Michael died on the sets of Rajinikanth’s Kaala at EVP Studios when he reportedly stepped on a live electric wire. In 2018, an AC mechanic, Gunashekaran, who was working for the Bigg Boss 2 reality show sets, slipped from the second floor and died later at the hospital.
Sharing a video of accident spot at the Indian 2 sets, actress Amrita posted on her Twitter handle, “This is really Sad! That place is actually horrifying, the same kinda light fell on a person during BIGIL shooting and we were all shattered just like this one!! I just wish ppl don’t go there to shoot again or just don’t go there, lot of negative vibes.”
A case of negligence has been filed against the crane operator and the production manager, a police source said.
Speaking to DC, Amritha Ram, personal designer to Kamal Haasan, who was present on the sets when the mishap happened, describes the nightmarish moments: “I, Kamal Sir, and Kajal Agarwal were sitting under a canopy near the crane where they were readying for the next shot. We had just finished two shots prior in the same location. We had been shooting for the last five days there. It was traumatic. I saw death in front of my eyes. I know there was something huge falling in front of us, and within seconds, all three of us ran some distance. I blacked out. It was a freak accident and we all had a narrow escape (shrugs).”
Kajal took to her social media handle and posted, “In so much shock, denial, trauma from the monstrous crane accident last night. All it took was a fraction of a second to stay alive and type this tweet. Just that one moment. Gratitude. So much learning and appreciation for the value of time and life.”
Ace Stunt choreographer Kanal Kannan, who has worked in more than 500 films, tells DC, “Though in the initial days we didn’t have many facilities for stunt sequences, with technological advancements, I now give maximum safety measures to my stuntmen. I cross-check at least 15 times before going for the actual shot. It is very important that we take care of the actors too. We would never let them participate in risky stunts without proper safety measures in place. In spite of this, accidents do happen. We can’t help it.”
Echoing Kamal Haasan’s views, Kannan said, “I request producers to take insurance not only for the stuntmen, but also for all the technicians. As of now, stunt unions and private concerns like SRM are helping them with insurance and medical facilities during any eventualities while shooting. When we shoot in foreign countries, it is a different scenario. The line producers who are in charge of Indian films compulsorily have a medical unit comprising a doctor, two nurses and attendants on standby at all the times. I witnessed this in Azerbaijan, when we shot for Ram Charan Teja’s Vinaya Vidheya Rama for 30 days and in Poland for Kotigobba 3 with Sudeep. We should also follow a similar method.”