Dubai: Malayalam actor Rajeev Pillai, who is working with actress Richa Chadda on adult star Shakeela’s biopic, didn’t think twice about cancelling his wedding so that he could be at the forefront of rescue efforts during the debilitating Kerala floods last week.
Pillai chose to be in Nannoor, his native place in Pathanamthitta district, and join a group of youngsters to form a rescue team. According to the actor, the flooding on August 16 and 17 was so severe that waiting for trained disaster management officials wasn’t an option.
“Watching all that disaster around you makes you forget about yourself. You are not in the mood to celebrate. All I wanted to do was save the place that I grew up in. Watching it being in submerged in water was painful and sitting idle or planning my own wedding was not an option,” said Pillai in an interview with Gulf News.
His bride-to-be, who isn’t from the acting industry and who belongs to Alwaye which was struck badly by the floods, was also on the same page.
When we tracked Pillai down, he was in Kochi to gather medicines and relief materials for his villagers back in Nannoor. On the day he was supposed to be married, he was busy making make-shift rafts from vazha [banana tree] stems which proved to be a nifty mode of transport to ferry his people to safety and cart essential goods during the flooding. Instead of enjoying a wedding feast, he and his mates hardly had any time to eat in between their rescue mission.
“We didn’t sleep for over two days. There were patients that required dialysis that needed immediate help and a heavily pregnant lady who needed to be rescued. If we didn’t join our hands to save them, they would have gone down. We had to come together because it would have been fool-hardy to wait for action from the army or there forces,” said Pillai.
The self-made actor, who got his first acting job after 32 unsuccessful auditions, claims the grim episode taught them the value of humanity and the transient nature of tangible possessions.
“The devastating flood taught us the strength of all those in distress coming together … Happiness is the only factor that counts,” said Pillai.
While he plans to resume work on Shakeela biopic after Onam, he is planning to wed sometime next month.
“Right now, the only thing on our mind is to save Nannoor and my people,” said Pillai.