A crane holding heavy lighting equipment snapped while the crew of 'Indian 2' was shooting a major fight sequence. Three crew members were crushed to death while ten other technicians were injured. Kamal Haasan said he "escaped death by a whisker".

In the wake of an accident on the sets of Kamal Haasan’s ‘Indian 2’, the Film Employees Federation of South India (FEFSI) has decided to impose guidelines to work with production houses henceforth. In a unanimous decision, the body said it would co-operate only if safety measures were put in place for workers and insurance provided.

FEFSI president R K Selvamani said, “We have unanimously decided that our union will co-operate with studios only if they agree to certain guidelines. Earlier, these were requests, now they are our demands.

“Any equipment which is not in industry practices will be used only after our approval. The operator and the crew will need to understand each other before shooting sequences. There should be safety measures and insurance cover for workers in the studio. Every studio should have an ambulance and a first-aid centre,” the veteran filmmaker said, adding that filmmakers need to ensure high levels of safety if they want their product to be at par with global cinema.

A crane holding heavy lighting equipment snapped Wednesday while the crew of ‘Indian 2’ was shooting a fight sequence. Three crew members including assistant director Krishna, art assistant Chandran and production assistant Madhusudhan Rao were crushed to death while ten other technicians were injured. Director Shankar and actors Kamal Haasan and Kajal Agarwal were also at the spot, but escaped unhurt.

Based on a complaint from assistant director Bharath Kumar, the Chennai Police lodged an FIR against crane operator Rajan under Section 287 (negligent conduct with respect to machinery) and 304 A (death due to negligence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Rajan, who was absconding since the accident, was arrested Friday, hours before the case was transferred to the crime branch.

Selvamani said the accident during the shooting of ‘Indian 2’ wasn’t the first at Chennai’s EVP Film City. Recently, he said, technicians were injured on the sets of Rajinikanth’s Kaala and Vijay’s Bigil.

“Studios just don’t care these days. They don’t have any empathy towards workers. On Wednesday, the studio didn’t have an ambulance to carry the victims to hospital. The crew was forced to carry them in their private vehicles,” he claimed.

A crew member who was on the set at the time of the accident, however, denied there were lack of safety measures. “We had been shooting this fight sequence for four days and we faced no issues. Medical staff were present on all days.

“Since it was an exterior sequence, multiple sources of lighting were required and hence the lighting truss was lifted to a certain height using a crane. Many junior artists were also present at the spot so the entire crew was working meticulously to get a proper shot. During the dinner break, the lighting truss unfortunately got dislodged from the bearings and the crane lost balance and fell. It was an accident, and it all happened in the blink of an eye,” he said.

Accident on set of ‘Indian 2’: I escaped death by a whisker, says Kamal Haasan

Speaking to reporters at the Kilapuk Hospital in Chennai, Kamal Haasan said he escaped death by a whisker. “I could have been in that room (mortuary), I escaped death by a whisker. Had I moved two feet this way or the other, someone else would be speaking to you now,” the 65-year-old actor said.

He claimed there are seldom safety measures on film sets. “I have been in this field since childhood… these people are my family. It is a shame there are no proper safety measures for workers in an industry that brags about Rs 100 crore and Rs 200 crore films. In future, there should be safety measures and insurance cover for everyone,” he added.

The actor said he would provide financial assistance of Rs 1 crore to the kin of the deceased and the injured.

Director Shankar and Lyca producer Subaskaran also condoled the deaths of the three technicians. Lyca announced a compensation of Rs 2 crore to the injured and families of the deceased.

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