Balakumar, the actor who has predominantly worked in Malayalam and Tamil films, was recently conferred with a doctorate by The Royal American University, USA, for his philanthropic work.
The honour was given at the Mangalam College of Engineering in Kottayam, Kerala, on Tuesday and presented by Justice Kemal Pasha, a retired judge of the Kerala High Court.
According to a letter dated December 28, 2020, Balakumar was decorated with a degree of Doctors of Letters Honoris Causa with “honors in recognition of outstanding scholarship and merit in the field of Humane Letters and extensive work and contributions in the field of humanities/for philanthropic work”.
Talking to Silverscreen India, Nicole Adams, senior vice president of student engagement and enrolment management, The Royal American University, said Balakumar was conferred with the honour by Shafeeq Shahul Hameed, the university’s Indian representative and founder chairman of the National Human Rights and Humanitarian Federation.
“Many colleges in the US recognise excellence by awarding honorary degrees to individuals with long records of achievements in particular areas. The Doctorate of Humane Letters is one such degree, usually given in recognition of achievements in the humanities or for philanthropic work,” Shafeeq told Silverscreen India.
Speaking to Silverscreen India, Balakumar said, “During Covid-19, my team and I adopted about 200 families. We took care of medical expenditures, education, especially for girl children, and basic needs, apart from housing needs,” Balakumar said.
“Acting is my profession but philanthropic work is my responsibility,” he said.
After Hindi actor Shah Rukh Khan, he is the first actor from India to receive an honour in philanthropy, he said.
Talking about receiving the honour, the actor said: “I rejected the honour the first time they offered it to me in November 2020. I came to know that the National Human Rights and Humanitarian Federation had shared my bio data for the degree. I was repeatedly offered the honour and asked them if I deserved the award. I finally accepted it on December 28.”
“Since I could not travel during December and until January 1 2021 parcel services were not working, I received the honour on January 19,” he said.
Balakumar will also be part of the Malayalam film Bilal, the sequel of Big B, starring Mammootty. He said that the shooting would start in March after he completes shooting of Annaathe.
The actor said he has no philanthropic works planned for now.