Bollywood has been famous for its philanthropic bent right from the days when Dilip Kumar, Sunil Dutt and other actors would travel to far-flung army locations on the borders of Kashmir and other places to entertain army jawans. Dutt, in particular, devoted his entire life and political career post-wife Nargis’ death to the upliftment of the poor. Shabana Azmi, on her part campaigns for the cause of slum-dwellers.
The new generation of actors, if anything, is performing even better than their predecessors with regard to charitable causes. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan startled everyone when almost immediately after her Miss World win in 1995, she endorsed a campaign for eye donation announcing that she would donate her eyes after her death. Yet if there seems to be a worthy successor to senior Dutt, then it is probably none other than Salman Khan, who by his own admission has devoted his entire life and career, post his traumatic jail phase, to charity. “I’ll do films idhar udhar but charity will be my priority. I’ve got so much and I want to give back something,” says Salman. The actor’s dream is to open hospitals, pharmacy companies and health care units. But he is very clear that he wants to do everything with complete transparency. And in almost the same breath he adds, “Before you ask me, I’m not doing all this to get into politics. I’m doing this because this is what I do.”
Amitabh Bachchan is involved in the national polio eradication drive and is the UN Ambassador for the Save the Girl Child campaign. Says Amitabh, “I believe women form 50% of the force and shakti (power) of the nation.. And they should only be encouraged, never discrimated against.’’
Priyanka Chopra has been a UNICEF ambassador for child rights and has travelled to villages across the country promoting the cause. Anil Kapoor has reportedly contributed his entire Slumdog Millionaire fee – Rs4.3 crores – to a charity that supports the girl child.
Two of Bollywood’s well-known names — Vidya Balan and Aamir Khan — are also involved with philanthropic causes. While Vidya has recently partnered with the government in a sanitation and hygiene awareness drive launched just last month, Aamir has not only adopted the village in Kutch where he filmed Lagaan but had been actively promoting social causes through his TV show Satyamev Jayate.
You might say, that as far as Bollywood is concerned, philanthropy is here to stay!