In an entertainment industry, notorious for being tight-fisted, Arbaaz Khan showed exemplary generosity on Sunday afternoon, his day off from official work, when he trudged down specially to his office to hand over a cheque of Rs 1.5 lakhs to the family of Raziya Begum, the deceased singer from Lucknow who sang 'Launda Badnaam Hua', an early version of the 'Munni Badnaam'.
The cheque was quietly handed over by Arbaaz to the needy family, which was on the verge of destitution, without any fuss or fanfare. In fact, Arbaaz didn't allow even a photograph to be taken. After receiving the cheque, the grateful daughter of the deceased singer said, "We contacted Arbaaz Saab in December about our mother's song. He immediately without hesitation agreed to compensate us after the New Year. We again contacted him last week. He told us to come to Mumbai anytime before the 10th January. We reached Mumbai on 9th morning and were asked to go to Arbaaz's office. Though it was Sunday, he came to the office for us. Within minutes he handed over the cheque of Rs.1.5 lakhs to us."
The impoverished family left for Lucknow with a collective smile on their faces. Arbaaz was embarrassed to talk about the experience. "It was just a token gesture. Very frankly, we didn't owe Raziya Begum any compensation. 'Munni Badnaam' is a traditional folk tune. Razia Begum sang and so did many other including Mamta Sharma in Dabangg. Folk songs belong to nobody. But in this case, I decided give over a small amount."
When reminded that Rs.1.5 lakh is not a small amount for a low-income family in Lucknow, Arbaaz said, "It's a small amount for me. If it means something to them why not? I first decided to give them lesser amount. But when I saw their condition, I was happy to give them what I did."
Arbaaz was saddened to know that Raziya Begum was no more. "I would have been much happier giving the cheque to Raziya Begum. Now that she is no more, I just hope they use the money well."
Incidentally, Arbaaz didn't want the incident to be highlighted. "A photograph would have been embarrassing for me and potentially dangerous for them. They live in a low-income mohallah in Lucknow where neighbours would not react well to their coming into sudden money."
Arbaaz wants to make it clear that he owes none of the claimants over 'Munni Badnaam' any compensation. "If I've made a token gesture to a family that needed the money, it doesn't mean I will pay up to anyone who claims to have a connection with the songs. I already have another claimant from Kolkata on my head. Quite frankly, the origin of the song is not my responsibility. The claimants should contact the music company or the composer."
With no moral or legal obligation to fulfill, that was a very generous thing that you did with Raziya Begum's family, Arbaaz. We hope your colleagues in Bollywood would open their fists and learn that charity is best performed without a battery of cameras to record the gesture.