The second wave of Covid-19 has badly hit India, leaving many struggling to access basic healthcare facilities — oxygen cylinders, medicines, and hospital beds. Over 2 lakh deaths have been reported so far. At this hour of need, along with common people, the Bollywood celebs are also finally consolidating, coming forward and putting their resources to fight the terrible disease.
While, Sonu Sood has emerged as the guardian angel for the poor and the needy amid this pandemic, working tirelessly to arrange hospital beds, plasma, oxygen cylinders, medicines through his Sood Charity Foundation and has recently also started a toll-free helpline number (1800-8913-441) that helps in providing free doctor consultation to Covid patients, slowly the entire film industry as well as other Indian celebrities are waking up to the catastrophic situation and pitching in.
Amitabh Bachchan, Rohit Shetty, Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli, Ayushmaan Khurana-Tahira Kashyap, Priyanka Chopra Jonas-Nick Jonas, Akshay Kumar-Twinkle Khanna, Salman Khan, John Abraham, Randeep Hooda, Bhumi Pednekar, Jacqueline Fernandez, Aditya Chopra and YRF, and the likes are contributing in a big way offering financial support as well as helping with man power and infrastructure and helping in Covid relief by amplifying and coordinating needs and resources.
Social media platforms have undoubtedly acted as the best space for SOS calls given the worsening Covid crisis. Actors like Bhumi Pednekar, Alia Bhatt, Sara Ali Khan, Taapsee Pannu, Kartik Aaryan, Tisca Chopra and Richa Chadha and the likes have turned to their respective social media accounts to amplify and connect resources to the needs.
Bhumi, who is working with over 150 volunteers a day, has created a highlight on her Instagram profile, wherein she is identifying resources “to enable facilitation and access to medical supplies, plasma requests and donors as the case may be”. Alia Bhatt has joined hands with renowned journalist Faye D’Souza. The two have been seen sharing relevant information like phone numbers of hospitals, ambulances, medications as well as doctors who are providing aid to the patients on their Instagram accounts.
Richa Chadha, who is also using her social media to amplify verified leads on Covid resources, said: “I think social media is filling in for lack of covid-19 war room. I have been able to connect people with needs to those who are supplying the thing that is needed. For instance, on an average I get two messages daily via my Instagram stories that it the patient it has found the ICU bed / oxygen. Personally, I think this is the least that I can do – put my reach to good use.”
Tisca Chopra is also using the social media for good to help out people amid the pandemic and is happy to have found compatriots. “We have been working on social media a lot... picking up leads from Instagram and Twitter and trying to help out. I and bunch of other people including Bhumi Pednekar, Mithila Palkar, Shriya Pilgaonkar, are working together on various WhatsApp groups. It’s very gratifying to know that somebody has got oxygen or somebody has got a bed with our help.”
Pointing out that it is the social media that has emerged as a boon amid this crisis, she said: “Social media is mainly known for its toxicity but in the second wave of covid, we have seen a complete different side of it. Anybody who has some kind of presence on social media has tried to help people in need in such hard times... I have seen social media users amplifying requests of old people who are not on Insta/ Twitter or of poor people who do not have access to technology. I have seen a few ministers responding to people’s requests immediately on social media...A lot of lives have been saved in the process,” Tisca added.
Abhishek Banerjee has also turned into a social media Covid warrior. Sharing how he has been able to help so far, the Paatal Lok actor said: “As a citizen just like a basic human being I felt that I should do something to help but I did not know the right ways to maybe start when suddenly I started to see on social media people were trying to reach out to influencers or people who can amplify their requests for help. Therefore, I decided to start helping the ones I could and with the help of my school classmate Vaibhav, we started a small helpline. The first reaction was even from the people we knew friends, family, extended family and friends of friend, the cry for help from these people were also high in numbers, so we started a small helpline with 5-6 volunteers who would work in shifts and we tried to do everything that was in our capacity, trying to get them oxygen cylinders and plasma, meds and yes we have been somewhat successful with supplying them with plasma and oxygen cylinders, concentrators and finding beds in places like Delhi and UP have been very difficult task. We have around 50-60 percent success ratio with that. Finding ICU has been a disaster I think, finding ICU and hospital have been the most difficult task but yes we have managed to get some of the patients the needful.”
Social media has also helped Harshvardhan Rane in arranging 3 oxygen concentrators. He sold his bike in exchange of those concentrators. “I let people on Instagram help me find genuine oxygen concentrators. I feel grateful for social media coming to rescue and helping us. It is a great tool if used to help people in need,” Harshvardhan said.
Even Sushmita Sen managed to arrange oxygen cylinders for a hospital in Delhi with the help of social media. Last month, she had taken to her Twitter to ask her followers to suggest a way she could send oxygen cylinders to Delhi. A few days later, Sushmita updated her followers that she’s sent the cylinders to Delhi.
Gurmeet Choudhary has also come forward to help. Apart from helping people to arrange Covid relief resources, he is also focussing on opening an 1000-bed hospitals in Patna and Lucknow. On Monday, the actor took to Instagram to announce the launch of his makeshift hospital called Astha in Nagpur for Covid-19 patients in collaboration with Dr Sayyed Wajahatali and team.
A slew of actors has also collaborated with NGOs or has started their own foundations in order to provide aid to the people. Jacqueline Fernandez has launched her foundation, You Only Live Once (YOLO), a few days ago. She recently visited the kitchen of Roti Bank Foundation to serve meals to the needy. Sunny Leone has joined hands with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to feed meals to around 10,000 migrant workers in Delhi, while John Abraham has handled over his social media accounts to NGOs who help amid Covid pandemic. Randeep Hooda has teamed up with NGO Khalsa Aid to provide oxygen concentrators to the needy people.
Tulsi Kumar is also trying her best with her new initiative, Mission 5000. “Mission 5000 is my attempt to provide free oxygen concentrators to patients at home amid the shortage of beds and oxygen in hospitals. I have partnered with Mission Josh for the same and we will extend our help through NGOs in an attempt to impact 5000 lives who have been dealing with the virus. The goal of this campaign is 5 Cr and we look forward to all the contribution that people want to make wholeheartedly,” the singer said.
Salman Khan, who in a recently posted video on Instagram was seen tasting food samples before the dabbas were sent out to frontline workers, has decided to offer monetary help to 25,000 daily wage workers of the film industry. BN Tiwari, President of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) informed: “Salman Khan will give Rs 1,500 to each worker for a month. He’s always there for help.” Not only this, Salman’s film banner Salman Khan Films recently announced that the revenue earned from the former’s forthcoming action film, Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai, will be used to support Covid-19 relief work.
Tiwari also informed the Cinema Journal that Netflix has also pitched in to help. The streaming platform along with Producers Guild of India (PGI) will transfer Rs 3.5 crore to 7,000 wage workers.
Yash Raj Films has also stepped in to extend their help. YRF head honcho Aditya Chopra has launched ‘Saathi’ initiative to financially support the Hindi film industry’s daily wage workers who are in dire need. As part of the initiative, the foundation will direct benefit transfers of Rs 5000 to women and senior citizens in the industry as well as distribute ration kits to workers. YRF has also taken a responsibility to vaccinate 30,000 members of Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE).
Among other celebs, who have been at the forefront is celebrity chef and newly-minted filmmaker, Vikas Khanna. He has transported about 10,000 oxygen concentrators and 50,000 PPE kits to India from the US. “The first shipment took longer time because we were figuring out the routes that would be the most efficient way to send help to India. A lot of logistic challenges were involved. It took almost 10 days for the first shipment to happen... those days were very crucial as it’s making a path for other shipments. We are each other’s warrior... I hope we overcome this pandemic soon,” says Vikas, whose massive food drive had provided meals and other essential items to several people across India amid the first Covid-19 wave, told the Cinema Journal.
Vikas also shared how people have personally approached him on social media to seek his assistance. “I get many help requests on social media all the time and we have been quite active on solving those requests...that’s how we also come to know about the shortage of oxygen, beds etc in India,” he added.
The rise of the heroes
Amitabh Bachchan: Megastar Amitabh Bachchan is the latest celebrity to offer help to people amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In his blog, he shared that he has managed to set up 250 to 450 bed at the Rakabganj Sahib Gurudwara in Delhi. Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management committee President Manjinder Singh Sirsa revealed that the actor has also contributed Rs 2 crore for the Covid-Care facility at the gurdwara. Bachchan also arranged 20 ventilators for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
Anushka Sharma – Virat Kohli: As India fight against the second Covid-19 wave, celebrity couple Anushka Sharma pitched in to provide their aid to the needy. The two have started a fundraiser campaign #InThisTogether, with Ketto for COVID-19 relief support in the country. They donated Rs 2 crore and urged everyone to donate.
Link of the fundraiser: https:// www.ketto.org/fundraiser/inthistogether
Ayushmann Khurrana – Tahira Kashyap: In order to lend their support to Covid-19 victims, actor Ayushmann Khurrana and his wife, author Tahira Kashyap contributed to the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s relief fund. “We have been constantly doing our bit to help as many people as possible and have now contributed to the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Relief Fund in this hour of need. This is the time when we should come together as a community and care for each other,” Ayushmann said.
Salman Khan: Superstar Salman Khan, who is awaiting the release of his forthcoming film, Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai, has decided to use the movie's revenues from towards providing support to COVID-19 relief work across India. Not only this, he has decided to offer monetary help to 25,000 daily wage workers of the film industry.
Randeep Hooda: Actor Randeep Hooda has joined Khalsa Aid’s efforts to fund oxygen concentrators. He even urged his social media followers to donate for oxygen concentrators as India is facing extreme shortage of medical oxygen and other resources.
Link of the fundraiser: https://www.impactguru.com/fundraiser/help-khalsa-aid
John Abraham: Actor John Abraham has handed over his social media accounts to several NGOS who have been helping people amid the pandemic. The NGOs have been using Dhoom actor’s account to post Covid-19 related information and accommodate medical facilities to people in dire need.
Priyanka Chopra-Nick Jonas: Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas is not in India but she has been trying her best to help her countrymen to fight against Covid. She and her husband Nick Jonas have joined hands with the Give India Foundation to set up a fundraiser to help the Covid-19 victims. The two have managed to raise over Rs 6 crore to date.
Link of Priyanka, Nick’s fundraiser: https: //fundraisers.giveindia.org/fundraisers/togetherforindia-stop-the-spread-help-india-fight-covid-19
Akshay Kumar – Twinkle Khanna: Star couple Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna have donated 100 oxygen concentrators. Akshay had even donated a sum of Rs 1 crore to former cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir’s foundation (Gautam Gambhir Foundation) for the Covid victims.
Rohit Shetty: Before starting shooting for Khatron Ke Khiladi in South Africa, filmmaker Rohit Shetty extended his help to the Covid-19 relief by donating 250 hospital beds to Guru Tegh Bahadur COVID Care Centre in Delhi.
Yash Raj Films: Production house Yash Raj Films has taken the responsibility to vaccinate almost 30,000 registered members of the film industry. The banner, which is led by Aditya Chopra, has also launched the Yash Chopra Saathi Initiative, which aims to provide financial support to thousands to the workers of film industry. The Yash Raj foundation will oversee direct benefit transfers of Rs 5000 to women and senior citizens in the industry as well as distribute ration kids to workers for a month. They have partnered with NGO Youth Feed India for the same.
Bhumi Pednekar: Actress Bhumi Pednekar has been consistently using her social media platforms to help people out there. She has created a highlight on her Instagram profile, wherein she is identifying resources to enable facilitation and access to medical supplies, plasma requests and donors as the case may be.
Link of Bhumi Pednekar’s Covid-19 resources Instagram highlights: https://instagram.com/bhumipednekar?igshid=sw1wa3p8zpbd
Jacqueline Fernandez: Actress Jacqueline Fernandez has launched her foundation, You Only Live Once, to help the needy during these trying times. In collaboration with NGO, Roti Bank, in Mumbai, Jacqueline recently prepared and distributed meals to those in need.
(Please note that this list is indicative and not exhaustive)