Mumbai, Sep 3 (IANS) Bollywood actor-producer Suniel Shetty has sent his team from water-sports centre H20 for rescue operations in flood-ravaged Bihar.
Suniel's concern for Bihar has much to do with his friendship with Railway Minister Lalu Prasad.
"Laluji and I are in constant touch about the flood situation in Bihar. He's been calling me three-four times a day. He has helped me understand the gravity of the flood situation in Bihar and how we could be of help," Suniel told IANS.
"My partner Rajiv Somani, who's the brain behind H20, suggested that we send our water experts to Bihar. That's when Laluji's disaster-management team swung into action and got in touch with our H20 team. Our H20 team consists of fishermen and ex-navy personnel.
"We've also been working very closely with the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) and the fire department in Mumbai for flood management in our city. We save two-three million lives every year. Bihar, therefore, seems like a good destination at this time when the floods have created havoc."
A team of 60 people from Suniel's H20 are being rushed to Bihar.
"Ten of them are experts in flood management. We've broken up the 60 boys into 10 teams. The teams have set up boats, life jackets etc. And we're introducing jet skis into areas of Bihar where boats cannot go."
All through Laluji has been giving Suniel personal instructions on how to go about the rescue operations in Bihar.
"My boys are not familiar with the flood-hit topography in Bihar. That's where Laluji comes in. And I expect other members of the industry like Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgan and Salman Khan to now lend a hand in helping Bihar cope with the floods. I know the industry will come forward to help Bihar."
Suniel, however, hasn't been in touch with Bihar's chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
"I don't know him. But I'm sure he's all for our efforts to help the flood situation even if it comes on Laluji's initiative. I'm not denying that it's Lalujii I'm very close to. And if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be able to provide any help in Bihar. But this isn't the time to take matters personally," said Suniel.
He says his connections with Bihar are strong.
"I've got so many people from that area working for me. I feel bonded with them. Now when my liftman or watchman says, 'Sir, you are doing so much for our state', I feel elated.
"Seven years of H20 feels rewarding. Instead of just doing the routine fund-raising, I feel I'm contributing much more actively. Right now I want my H20 boys to go full-throttle ahead with their rescue work."
Suniel also wants to visit the state.
"I don't want to be this film star who's scared of wetting his feet in the water. I'd rather be down in Bihar and meet people. I'll be flying down soon."
Not too many people that Suniel has been close to Lalu for the last five years. They've been in constant touch, and have exchanged notes on cinema and politics. But Suniel remains happily non-partisan.
"We talk about a lot of things. Whenever Laluji speaks about Bollywood he mentions me among his friends. That makes me feel really happy and proud. He's keenly interested in movies. In fact, I've invited him to watch my film 'Little Godfather', which is about the train blasts that happened in Mumbai in 2005. We're connected deeply."