Goodbye, Halyina Hutchins. Long before Alec Baldwin unknowingly shot his cinematographer dead on the sets of Rust (Rust in peace, indeed) I realized we in India need to take immediate remedial measures to prevent any catastrophe on the sets.

Years ago I was at a photoshoot with Salman Khan and Bhumika Chawla when her saree caught fire from a diyah that was lit next to her. Within seconds her pallu was ablaze. I watched frozen on the spot in horror thinking of what we were witnessing there, when suddenly someone –no it wasn’t Salman had the presence of mind to stomp on the burning pallu.

Bhumika was saved. Was she reminded of this incident when Halyina was accidently shot dead with bullets that were supposed to be blanks?

I remember another incident. This happened to my (then) dear friend Sushmita Sen.We all know she wears her hair lose constantly. The huge pedestral fan blowing behind her on the sets of a film knew it too. Within seconds her hair was tangled in the blades of the gigantic horror-monster contraption.

My first thought then was, who uses such obsolete contraptions on a modern Indian film set?

This was a good twenty years after a blaze extinguished 52(?) lives on the set of Sanjay Khan’s The Sword Of Tipu Sultan. We never really got to know where and how the fire started. There was never any transparency on the issue. Years later when Khan was asked about the horrific episode he brushed off the incident as the work of “Man or God”

That’s quite a staggering range, far broader than Mr Khan’s acting.

No lessons were learnt. Indian filmmakers continue to shoot their films under the most hazardous circumstances. And we are not talking about the new post-pandemic dangers. Long before King Covid ruled the universe, unspeakable risks were taken on film sets specially in India. You may heard about some of the more famous incidents of near-catastrophes on the sets. But let me tell you the shocking truth: most of these incidents are hushed up, or every effort is made to hush them up.

If we begin to count the number of unreported lives which have been lost on the job during film shootings in India we would probably have to close down some major production houses in the country.

I remember some years ago when a horse had died during shooting I anxiously called up the film’s director who brushed off the incident as “one of those things that can’t be helped…eggs have to be broken to make an omelette.”

Right. But whose eggs are you breaking? That’s the question.

The Alec Baldwin incident must not be treated as an isolated one-off event, better left behind and best to move on.No. The entire movie fraternity all over the world should take stock of the safety measures provided on sets. To get that perfect shot , filmmakers are known to go to ridiculous lengths.But at what cost?

Repeatedly my heart goes out to Halyna’s family.What did her husband tell their son after she was accidently shot? That Mommy is not coming home after work today? That she may be gone for a while? Baldwin says he is “heartbroken” by the incident. I wonder if he knows how heartbroken Halyna’s husband Mathew is .

You wanted your perfect shot. You got something else instead.