A social conscience is a good thing for a movie star but having one is not a smooth ride either. After a road accident that killed two youngsters in Kochi, Jayasurya, a popular actor in Kerala, decided that instead of waiting for the municipal corporation to fill the city’s potholes, he would do it on his own. On 20 July, the actor, along with a few friends and some auto drivers, gathered on Shanmukham Road opposite Marine Drive and filled the huge potholes formed by heavy rains.
It was, however, a move that didn’t go down well with the city’s authorities. Kochi’s Mayor, Tony Chammany, alleged that what Jayasurya did was nothing but a publicity stunt and it was not exactly a job well done.
“He did it unscientifically. I have received complaints that the metal used to fill potholes got washed out and spread across the road in the rain. It only created more hazards to commuters. I am told by friends in the media that the actor waited for all TV channels to arrive at the spot to start work. Why did he do so if it was a genuine attempt to fill up potholes?” asks Chammany.
Jayasurya has dismissed the Mayor’s complaints. He does not accept the allegation that the potholes were filled unscientifically. “I have done it as best as I could. It is common sense that merely filling up potholes with metals will only increase the problem. I have not done so,” he says.
He also rebuts the charge of it being a publicity stunt. “No one will believe that I have to look for publicity through such an act. Mine was an expression of protest. I did not call the media; they came on their own, which is usual. Even if I had called the media, what is wrong in it?”
Though the Mayor and the municipality did not like what Jayasurya did, he received plenty of support across social networking websites.
“I have no regret for what I did. You can see the change in the city after my public expression of protest. Many resident associations are now coming forward to repair roads in their localities without waiting for the benevolence of the corporation,” he says.