The opinion about Tovino, the Malayalam film actor, could be mixed. However, most Malayalis would have only good words to say about this young man who was busy in rescue and relief operations during the recent deluge. For Tovino too, this unusual experience was indeed an eye-opener. The actor opens up about the experience that the calamity offered him.
What was the biggest lesson that you learnt during the disaster?
Everyone longs to do something good. I personally feel that if people stay reluctant to do good, it is because those who volunteer for it are often exploited or even cheated. A noble act just does not spring up from within all of a sudden. It is there always, rooted within us, though some external forces destroy it. Nobody wants to be cheated. I would say 100% Malayalis are good. We have the heart to help each other. That's the lesson this deluge has taught me.
What prompted you to join the rescue efforts?
This was a first-of-its-kind experience, not just for me, but for many. I had called a friend as I saw the water level rising. I asked him whether it was time for us to do something. That's when I came to know that another friend's house has been flooded. Myself, my elder brother, two friends and their two kin then set off. We learned many things in the four days that followed. We had 20 college students with us. None of them asked for a selfie. They just treated me as one of their friends, even as they joined me in our efforts to distribute food and other assistance. Some of them sought a selfie several days later after our work was over. That made me happy.
Many stars offered money for relief activities, but don't you think your work was deemed better?
Not really. Many whom I know personally did their best. Indrettan (Indrajit Sukumaran) and others were involved right from Day 1. Many others like actors Asif Ali and Balu were there among the flood-hit people. May be their photos weren't published much. It's not right to claim that only I did so much.
Wasn't the dedication of the youth on display during the calamity?
Youth do have commitment. The problem is that they are not being assigned responsibility. When it was done, we have seen how well they performed. Every Facebook account was like a control room. People helped each other so much, beyond caste or creed or political divides. Most people are like that.
What is the lesson learnt from the destructive deluge?
The calamity raised great expectations. We aren't a silly people as we proved by bringing the disaster under control within four days. We could survive such a massive flooding thanks to our unity. The unity on display gives me the most satisfaction and that is what kindles my hopes. Yes, indeed the casualties and the loss of many people sadden me. But we got a strong message of survival. There are many unwanted things here, but we survived keeping all those away. We can continue to do so.
Some say you joined the efforts to promote your films?
Thoughtless people say so. Hope they will start thinking and doing something some day.