Text and Photos by Verus Ferreira
The Celebrate Bandra festival which has the big names in the music, film, dance and theatre-related events, just got more star studded. The 2011 edition of the biennial festival, which began on 12th November and concluded on Sunday, November 27, saw Bollywood cine star Salman Khan headed to Kripa Foundation. No he wasn’t checking in for rehab, rather he took time off from his busy schedule to inaugurate a 20 seater bus donated by the Celebrate Bandra Trust to Kripa Foundation.
Unlike his usual press conference dates where he keeps the media waiting, Khan was on time and on his arrival got the motley crowd at Mt. Carmel’s church, Kripa Foundation’s head office in a tizzy.
Received by Rev. Fr. Joe Pereira, Founder of Kripa Foundation, Fr. William Athiade, Parish Priest of Mt. Carmel’s Church, Salman proceeded to cut the ribbon and handover the keys to the bus to Fr. Joe Pereira. Khan also took a seat in the drivers seat, much to the amusement of all present.
Speaking on the occasion held at the annexe behind the church, where inmates under rehabilitation reside, Khan recounted his school days and his tryst with alcohol. “I had my first drink when I attended church services at St. Andrews. I was only 11 years old at that time. My friends and I used to attend the mass and like innocent children receive Holy Communion dipped in wine. That was my first taste. Later when I was about 15 years old I had my first beer and puked the whole thing out immediately. My family thought that was the last I would ever drink, but that was just the start”.
Salman stated that it is okay to have one or two pegs of alcohol at the end of a hard day at work, but to sit down and drink during the day was the worst thing one could ever do. He also spoke on the evils of drug abuse and stated.”Drug addiction is one of the worst things one can do to one’s body. Compared to alcohol, we can say put down the glass and say to ourselves that from today we stop drinking, but when we are on drugs, we just need to have it more and more as it not only interferes with our body, but also our mind. It is my urgent request to you all to quit drinking and drug abuse and change your life.”
Salman also stated that even he comes home from his shootings and has one, maybe two or three pegs and goes to sleep. “Yes I too drink, but to a limit. I drink, eat and then sleep so that I am fresh to attend my shoot the next morning. Its okay to have a drink and keep to your limit, but making it a regular habit is wrong.”
Fr. Joe in his address thanked Salman Khan for making the time to attend the function and be a part of the Friends of Kripa. While he was leaving, Salman shook hands with each inmate from Kripa and also signed autographs and posed for pictures with them and with guests.