February 15th, 2016
News: mumbaimirror | Image Source: ndtv
It was Valentine’s Day yesterday, a day dedicated to the special people in our lives whom we love and for whom we are ready to make umpteen numbers of sacrifices, just to see them smile. There were mushy tales of how we met our significant someone, or the gifts we decided to surprise them with, the special discounts offered to couples, or even singles, who wanted to celebrate the day at various hotspots. Love was in the air and Cupid was ready to assist anyone in need of expressing love.
Oblivious to all these things, Pravin Mohare, the film agent turned whistleblower in 2014, was struggling to make ends meet in suburban Mumbai, feeling sad for his wife and four-year-old daughter, who are the centre of his universe: “I am paying a huge price for raising my voice and acting against corruption. I feel sad to see my wife and daughter suffer because of my deed,” he was quoted as saying in Monday’s report. He earns a meager 600 rupees after working for several hours daily, which enables him barely to live from hand to mouth.
This is in stark contrast to what he was quoted as saying less than two years back, “I have done nothing wrong. Shouldn’t we stand up for what is right and make efforts to cleanse the system?” At that time he insisted that age was on his side and was confident that destiny would not ditch him. Sadly, it seems now that destiny turns a blind eye to someone who has the courage to take a stand against corruption because such a person is all alone in his battle against the “system”.
Mohare, a film agent who assisted producers to procure the necessary certificates required for a film to release theatrically, had helped the CBI nab Rakesh Kumar, former CEO of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) on charges of corruption in August, 2014.
Earlier that year, Mohare had visited Rakesh Kumar for getting a Marathi film trailer censored when he was rudely refused by him. Outside his cabin, Kumar’s agent informed Mohare that he needed to oil the CEO’s palms. At that time, he just had Rs. 9000 in his pockets, but that was sufficient to get him the required certificate in three days.
Pravin’s next assignment was the movie Mor Dauki Ke Bihav, produced by Chhattisgarh-based Kshamanidhi Mishra. Since he was aware of the “procedure” already, he decided to set a trap for Rakesh Kumar. On meeting the CEO, Mohare was asked if he had finished the paperwork. The Scheduling Officer informed Mohare that his film was not lined up for screening. When Mohare messaged Kumar telling him he would pay, he got no reply.
Three days prior to 15th August, when the film was slated to be released, Mohare met Kumar in person and told him that he was carrying Rs 30, 000. He was insulted by Kumar and told to get lost. Another agent of the CEO, Shripadi Mishra, informed Mohare that Rs 30,000 was too little a sum to get a film censored and at least Rs 50, 000 would be needed. The quoted sum was hiked to RS. 70,000 by the time Mohare was on his way to Churchgate. Mohare instead went to the Colaba office of the CBI with audio recordings of the entire interaction with Rakesh Kumar and the phone calls. Rakesh Kumar was soon suspended and arrested by the CBI. When he informed the film producer, he wailed saying that his movie would never see the light of the day.
However, it was a proud moment for Mohare and his wife, “I hadn’t kept her in the loop about the CBI connection, but she knew I was disturbed earlier this month. Now she’s proud of me.” That pride, unfortunately lasted for a short while. Mohare, who was in the film industry for nearly a decade by then and comfortably earned Rs. 80, 000 a month, soon found out that he was “not welcome” at the CBFC office.
While producers stopped giving him work, agents gave him a cold shoulder. Moreover, his film producer facilitator ID was blocked and thus he lost access to the board’s office. His applications for certification of movies were not accepted by CBFC officials and he had no option but to quit his job as a film agent. Till date he has not even received the Rs 50, 000 that was promised to him by the CBI in order to nab Kumar. It should have been given to him within 45-60 days, as promised.
Therefore, while the more fortunate ones celebrated the Valentine’s Day with all pomp and ceremony, the impoverished whistleblower-turned-vegetable-vendor sang out aloud the warning song for anyone who is in the battle against corruption, “You are all alone if you are fighting against corruption. No one comes to support you”.
Is it then surprising that the lesser mortals like us, who want to earn decent bread and butter for our loved ones, wonder if “being good” bears any fruits? Apart from the fifteen minutes of fame, all a whistleblower and his loved ones get is a daily struggle for mere survival and existence.
The Logical Indian hopes that Pravin is allowed to work in the film industry again.As responsible citizens and logical Indians we should strive to make our efforts to stand by such people and give them alternative avenues for their careers. At the national level, Acts such as The The Whistle Blower Protection (Amendment) Bill should be made so as to provide the necessary protection to such commendable citizens who dare to take a stand against corruption.