Film industry is known to be socially responsible. But actually to be able to translate words into action is something else, writes S.S. KAVITHA
I want to become a doctor, declares R. Kavithalaya. N. Gurusamy wishes to join the Armed Forces and serve the country. Perhaps these ambitious dreams became a shade stronger each time little children of Kallar Primary School at Sangampatti walked their way through prickly thorns to school.
Sometimes, even snakes came hissing their way and scared them out of their wits. But their march to the school never got disrupted. With their peace unperturbed and determination intact, they carried on in the hope of a better future.
Today it is a different story. The stretch of road connecting Gandhi Nagar and Sangampatti is sans slush and thorny bushes. The same children happily walk and jump on road, most often barefoot. Their difficult travail has become a thing of the past now.
Thanks to Kandasamy film crew. The film features actors Vikram and Shriya and is produced by ‘Kalaipulli’ S. Thanu and directed by S. Susi Ganesan. The crew adopted the villages of Gandhi Nagar and Sangampatti near Usilampatti, to set a new trend. While others may find a cause to emulate, the crew has shown how to do what one preaches.
“As if at the stroke of a magic wand, Gandhi Nagar and Sangampatti witnessed changes over night,” says P. Veeramma, a villager of Sangampatti.
The changes underline when there is a will there is a way too, echo M. Murugeswari and P. Malathy, teachers of the Sangampatti Primary School.
“Earlier when it rained, children literally waded through slush to reach the school,” recalls Ms. Murugeswari, adding “some one with a conscience has provided with village with basic amenities.”
With the co-operation of the villagers, the unit helped in laying the roads. It also improved the kitchen of the school’s noon meal centre, strengthened its infrastructure too like repairing the damaged compound wall and constructing a gate for the Sangampatti school.
This apart, the team even whitewashed the community hall (chavadi), cemented the flooring of ’mandhai,’ and built a tank near the burning ghat in Gandhi Nagar.
Making a film with good message is not true success. But converting the message into a reality is real victory. People with energy, commitment, creativity and compassionate can make the world a better place to live, says Mr. Susi Ganesan.
The team members spent a lot of time searching for a village that was united at all fronts such as politics, caste and religion. Since the director hails from Madurai district, efforts were made to select a village in the same district.
Well meaning intentions and good efforts tend to confront opposition and Kandasamy crew was no exception.
The team encountered opposition and many local heads demanded that the team members should handover money for development to respective leaders.
Finally after scouting 30 villages, the team selected Gandhi Nagar and Sangampatti for two reasons – both had not seen development and villagers were united and interested in enhancing the infrastructure.
“Film makers always make several innovative attempts to cash in their creativity and collect money from the people but the Kandasamy crew wanted to give back a part of their earnings to the people,” points out the director.
“The film talks about the growing divide between the rich and the poor due to globalisation. It conveys the message that affluent people should come forward to adopt a village and implement development works there,” he says.
The crew was unanimous in its decision to make the Kandasamy-theme a reality.
“Adoption is an earnest attempt to bridge the widening gap between the rich and the poor. I know it is not possible just like that but efforts should be taken and somebody has to take the lead and the Kandasamy crew has shown the way,” adds Mr. Susi Ganesan.
Roping in the Women’s Emancipation and Development Trust (WED Trust ) that is striving for women empowerment and gender equity, the film crew formed multiple implementation committees with village women and advocacy committees with village men for implementing the works.
“A sum of Rs. 1.41 lakh was given directly to the people. The team believed that villagers were capable of carrying out the work and would also do it correctly as per their need,” says PS. Dharmaneethi, director, WED Trust, that played the role of the facilitator.
“With ideas in focus, women did a better job,” points out N. Logamani, trust founder and adds that if rich people could spend a small portion of their money they can uplift the lives of rural India.
Adopting a village is like adopting a child. It is an ongoing process. We have lot of plans for our villages. Even after Kandaswamy is over, our work for the villages will continue. This commitment is a part of Kandaswamy and what the film stands for, assures Mr. Susi Ganesan.
He shares that actor Vickram plans to conduct medical camps while other members plan to educate youths and help them to get jobs.
Having done the preliminary work, the crew is all set to donate a computer to the primary school that has a strength of 122 children, hailing from surrounding villages.
Making money is business but spending money for a social cause is for soul’s satisfaction.