Bhandarkar's heart goes out to ryots; donates prize money

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New Delhi, Sep 3 (UNI) He does what he preaches. In a make-believe world where the reel life portrayal of actors or directors is often in sharp contrast to their real life persona, realistic filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar is among few Bollywood personalities whose life is a true reflection of the ideals and issues he has brought alive on celluloid.

In a scene that seemed straight out of one of his films, the three time National Award winner Bhandarkar, who last night received from President Pratibha Patil a National award for Best Director for his 'Traffic Signal', announced his decision to donate all his prize money for a noble cause.

Moved by the plight of farmers in various parts of the country who are forced to commit suicide in the face of extreme financial hardship, Bhandarkar announced that he was donating his Rs 2.5 lakh prize money to the families to three farmers from Vidharbha who committed suicide due to financial hardship.

''I never gave much, through donating any prize money, to a social cause. This year, I came across many stories of farmers who had ended their lives to evade the debt trap they were in. It was extremely moving for me, and hence I decided to donate the prize money. I always wanted to help underprivileged and this is an honour to serve society,'' the filmmaker said here after receiving the award from the President.

Bhandarkar said donation of the prize money was but a small gesture from him considering what the families of the farmers have gone through.

''Farmers have suffered so much and what I am doing is just a small gesture from my side,'' the filmmaker said.

The three farmers whose families have been chosen by Bhandarkar for the charity are -- Kashinath Dagdu, Prakash Darne and Shamrao Kannake.

Dagdu had ended his life after the much-hyped loan waiver was announced by the Centre last year. His wife, Kamal Waghmare, still lives in abject poverty along with her children in Buldhana.

Prakash Darne from Yavatmal committed suicide on June 28, 2007 as he found that he simply couldn't repay a loan of Rs 56,000. His wife Sangeeta is as helpless as her dead husband and does not know how to fend for her two daughters and a son. One of her daughters is visually impaired.

Shamrao Kannake committed suicide on February 17, 2007 after he was unable to pay back Rs 16,200 he borrowed. For the Kannake family in Yavatmal, that fateful day brought twin tragedies. Shamrao's father, too, gave up his life the same day. Kannake's wife Sugandha is still trying to make both ends meet.

He said he would be personally going to Nagpur on Friday to hand over the money to the affected families.

Asked how he selected these three families, he said,''I shortlisted them after thorough research.'' For Madhur, the Best Director award for 'Traffic Signal' is his third National award.

The first time he won a Natoinal award was for 'Chandni Bar', which bagged the Best Social Film of the year 2002. The second was for 'Page 3', a film which changed the entire stature of Bhandarkar.

This film, apart from winning him rave reviews, also won the National Award in The Best Feature Film category. For Madhur, receiving a National award for a third time was one of the greatest moments of his life.

''I thank my audience, my fans and all those people who saw the movie. It is this love and affection of the audience, that gives me the immense freedom of creativity and deliver something very new and out of league. As my movies always portray a real face of society every time, I really want to help people by any means,'' Madhur says.

The director, who is known for making films on social issues, is now ready with his next film 'Fashion', believed to be an expose of the glamorous world of fashion industry.

With a hat-trick of National awards already under his belt, Madhur's 'Fashion' has created a huge buzz in the film industry and among cinegoers and is among the much-awaited film this year.

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