New Delhi/Jaipur: A week after a fatal accident in Rajasthan, in which the Mercedes sedan in which actor-MP Hema Malini was travelling crashed into a Maruti Alto and killed a two-year-old girl on the spot, the victim's father is left wondering not just why the star has still not tried to contact or speak to the bereaved family but why the film industry, which otherwise "speaks on every subject", chose to remain silent.
In a series of tweets following the July 2 car accident in Dausa around 50 km from Jaipur, Hema, who was injured in the accident too, expressed her condolences to the family whose car was smashed by her Mercedes, but said the accident could have been averted if the girl's father "had followed traffic rules".
But the police in Dausa had registered a case against Hema Malini’s driver Mahesh Thakur, resident of Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, and arrested him on July 3 charges of causing death by negligence and overspeeding, leaving little room for doubt as to who was the culprit. Hema Malini is the BJP MP from Mathura.
Social media users went into a tizzy following her post on the micro-blogging platform, slamming the actress for her insensitivity. Now Hanuman Khandelwal, the victim's father, has raised an even more pertinent question, saying: "No one from the film industry has spoken about us. Why the industry, which speaks on every subject, is silent now? Someone should have come forward and spoken on it."
The hapless father, a cycle shop owner and one of the four injured in the mishap, told IANS: "Even Hema-ji has not tried to contact or speak to us...it would have been good for us if she would have spoken to us rather than blaming me for the accident. The film industry should understand that there is a difference between real life and reel life."
Bollywood veterans like Anupam Kher, Shabana Azmi and Rishi Kapoor reacted, but they mostly wished the actress a "speedy recovery". Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri supported Hema and commented: "The Alto, in Hema Malini accident, was on the wrong. But in India, larger vehicle is always wrong. Specially, if it involves a celeb."
Largely, the film industry chose to refrain from commenting on the issue. However, social media users were voluble with their comments.
One @pranavjayan tweeted: "@dreamgirlhema shame on ua part! Criticizing da girls family doesnt show ua humanity.! Being a politician such a cheap selfish act (sic)", while another user, named Medha Chatterjee, shared: "How I wish Hema Malini kept her mouth shut. Her statements make her look shallow n heartless! Pity, we have MPs like her representing India."
People on the streets of the desert state too have condemned the 66-year-old actress for her apparent lack of feeling.
"Hema Malini is a big star. Moreover she is a politician, at least she should have known what to speak. It is not proper for a person like her to tweet the way she did," said Manish Kumar, an executive with a private company in Jaipur.
Echoing similar views, Rashmi Singh, a college-goer said: "I respect Hema-ji a lot, but by tweeting and laying blame on a person who lost her daughter is just sickening. How can she do it and that too after six days of the accident....why react so late and that too in bad taste."
Hema Malini's daughter, Esha, had been quoted as saying after her mother returned from hospital: "My mother will help the families of victims. She is doing this not because she is a neta (leader) but because she is a good human being as well."