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Living dangerously

A special effect team performs...

TWO MEN face off ready to fight. It is clearly a one-sided combat. While one is armed with a gleaming black pistol, the other is unarmed. Out on a limb, the latter is forced to quickly consider the options before him - take to heels or knock the pistol off with a scissor kick. But before he could move a limb, his adversary pulls the trigger - tut. The man is wounded in the chest; blood spurts out instantaneously. You expect him to keel over. But the "wounded" combatant walks away nonchalantly, his face breaking into a wide grin.

A swarm of journalists who have gathered around these men applaud the "performance", which is part of a demonstration at the Chola Sheraton by members of the South India Cine Action Special Effect Workers Union (SICASEWU).

Not all stunts performed by these special effects men are as risk-free as the afore-related. In a good number of stunts, they dice with danger, sometimes even death. Though a few close shaves are all in a day's work for them, they do take adequate precautions to meet dangerous situations, says Eknath, president, SICASEWU. The union also helps these men deal effectively with the other "dangers" in the profession, he adds. "It addresses all the problems associated with this profession." Though SICASEWU saw the light of day in 1995, it had been functioning at a less than optimal level until three years ago. In these last three years the members have been discovering more and more purposes that the union can serve.

"To help our stuntmen get their head around Western technologies, our union will obtain equipment and know-how from these countries. To this end, we have already purchased a few rare instruments. A small library is in the offing," he says.

"SICASEWU union members are all insured. In the future, we will extend scholarship benefits to the members' children and meet the medical expenses of even those members who are out of employment."The special effects field includes, inter alia, creation of dummy gun effects, bullet effects, blast effects, electrical sparks and background for song sequences.


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