NEW DELHI -- Congratulating Bollywood actor Emraan Hashmi for having successfully won the battle against his son's cancer, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the six-year old a bigger superstar that his father.
Kejriwal was speaking at the launch of Hashmi's debut book titled 'Kiss of Life' (Penguin Random House) held last evening at India Islamic Cultural Centre.
The book co-authored by Hashmi and 21-year-old Bilal Siddiqui, revolves around the actor's journey of coming to terms with his 4 year-old son Ayaan's kidney cancer and the long struggle that he and his wife endured, before their son was medically declared 'cancer-free'.
Kejriwal said, "I would like to congratulate Emraan and Bilal for writing this book. I haven't read the book yet, but from whatever I have heard now, I think your son is a bigger superstar that you."
After Ayaan was diagnosed with the disease, he was taken to Canada for a seven-month-long treatment that was not only painful but also expensive.
According to the politician, Hashmi was fortunate to be able to finance such a costly treatment, pointing out that not everybody was capable of doing the same. It was the government's duty to come to their aid, he said.
"Emraan was fortunate to have the money to take his child to Canada. But, there are a lot of people in our country who cannot afford such an expensive treatment. I think here it is the government's responsibility to invest sufficiently in public services so that people don't die because they don't have money. They should get complete healthcare facilities.
That is the government's job and in Delhi we are trying our best," he said.
Lauding the actor and his family's determination to end the struggle, Kejriwal said that the book was about "hope," which he said was imperative to get going with the challenges of life.
"I think this book is about hope. And Emraan was right when he said that it was not just about cancer. First of all, for cancer patients, when they start losing hope, their bodies also start giving up rapidly. Therefore it is a must read for cancer patients. The book will keep on giving them and their families hope," Kejriwal said.
Insisting that the book was not just meant for cancer patients, he urged that everybody must read it.
He said, "I also think that everybody else should also read it because it is not just about cancer. Thereare many moments and situations in all our lives when we have to struggle a lot, and it will be great if there is hope too."
37 year old Hashmi, who moved to and fro between his professional and personal lives while his son was undergoing treatment, said that while he was frantically looking for remedies that could cure his son, he chanced upon a study that quoted majority (85 per cent) of the cancer cases were in fact lifestyle related.
The actor was appreciative of Kejriwal's Odd-Even car scheme and said that more cities should adopt the practice and help curb pollution.
"We have drastically changed our environment. The chemistry of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water, our habits have destroyed things for us...This brings me to Mr. Kejriwal's fight against pollution in Delhi. There is a big connect between cancer and pollution. I think the fight should be fought in every city across the nation, because it is one of the key causes for cancers," Hashmi said.
Ayaan's emotional tale of recuperation from the deadly ailment is peppered with funny anecdotes, which the actor has recounted from the sets of his films, as well as from his college and school days.
"This book has evolved into more than that (Ayaan's fight with cancer) with funny stories from the industry, me as an irresponsible bum in my college and school and stories about kissing," the actor said.
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