Veteran Bollywood actor Farooq Sheikh exhorts people for compelling filmmakers to make meaningful and socially relevant films.
Farooq Sheikh, an Indian actor and a popular television presenter, launched a new campaign by Doctors without Borders or Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). The campaign ‘Who Cares?’ will spread awareness about pressing health issues in India and seek the support of the people to address the same.
Sheikh talks to OneWorld South Asia at the launch event about his association with the campaign and the need for more such initiatives. Excerpts from the interview.
OneWorld South Asia: How do you think educated and skilled people could help in addressing the health challenges in a huge country like India?
Farooq Sheikh: The educated segment of the society should work for the neglected sections of the society by associating themselves with like minded organisations like Medecins Sans Frontieres.
It is very ironical that despite the world having transformed itself into a global- village, the people of one part of the globe are indifferent to the needs and requirements of the needy ones living in another part of the world.
Women and children continue to suffer in our societies. A dehumanized human being is also like a sick person and in certain ways we fare even worse than animals. According to certain reports from the flood-hit Uttarakhand, distressed people were forced to buy a plate of Maggie for Rs 500.
OWSA: How do you think the funding model of MSF is sustainable in the long run?
Sheikh: MSF’s financial support system is through individuals and common folk. Efforts of this kind show us a ray of hope and reaffirm our faith in humanity.
I personally feel that people should spend money on supporting such initiatives instead of splurging money on the movies.
OWSA: Don’t you think by hinging on organisations like MSF we are undermining the role of government in providing universal healthcare?
Sheikh: No, I don’t think so. By supporting organizations like MSF we are reminding the government that providing healthcare is its duty, and wherever there are shortcomings the people are ready to come forward and fill in the gaps.
To improve India’s healthcare scenario efforts are needed at all levels. Since we elect our governments, it is also our duty to make it work according to our aspirations.
We need to repeatedly remind our government of the unfinished tasks and the duties neglected by it.
OWSA: Why do think Indian cinema has failed to deliver socially relevant films?
Sheikh: Cinema is a biased market. You should be a discerning cinemagoer before expecting meaningful work from the film industry.
I believe in this country, filmmakers are more conscious about the issues than the policy makers. Ideally, films should not be just entertaining but also engrossing.
Discerning viewers can make discerning cinema producers. Great cinema will be when we have great audience. People should compel filmmakers to make meaningful films. Once the audience changes its taste for films, the producers would have no choice but to make the kind of films which caters to their taste.
OWSA: How can celebrities lend their support to social causes?
Sheikh: Celebrities can contribute to spread good messages because people being familiar to the face and voice of a celebrity they happen to follow them eagerly. But, the real work is being done by those organizations and volunteers who are toiling in the field to make this world a better place to live for everyone.
The role of a celebrity is to draw attention of people towards good work being carried out in the society and appeal to them for reaching out with a helping hand.