NAT RIK ABY 6-1596719904702
UAE-based actor Rik Aby (centre) with friends in Jordan. He has been stranded there since March due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: UAE-based actor Rik Aby, who travelled to Jordan on March 16 for the shooting of a Malayalam survival drama, is stranded for more than 100 days and is desperately seeking help to return, Gulf News has learnt.

The film’s shooting, spearheaded by Malayalam superstar Prithviraj, was halted as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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“I have applied for ICA approval but I have been rejected eight times … Please help me as I am in a tough spot for more than four months. I have lost out on commercial shoots that were already planned in the UAE,” Aby told Gulf News in an exclusive interview with over phone from Jordan.

Aby, originally from Sudan, was a part of a fifty-plus crew of the highly-anticipated Prithviraj-led ‘Aadujeevitham’ directed by National Award-winning Indian director Blessy. His predicament closely mirrors the script of his Malayalam film, a tale of a recluse fighting for survival in a desert.

“The whole team from India is back in their country, but I am the only one who’s stuck here … I have spent two Eids and Ramadan in Jordan now. I am worried that my UAE residency visa will expire before I can get clearance,” he said.

On May 22, the 58-member crew including lead actor Prithviraj and director Blessy returned to India after a special flight was arranged by the Embassy of India in Amman. “Everybody, including the local media in Jordan, have assumed that the whole team has gone back home. There was an Omani actor who was there with me until recently, but he too left after his 16-day quarantine period in a charter flight from his government … I have been applying to return home. I am one of the thousands who have been stranded abroad,” said Aby.

Negative test

Aby has tested Covid-19 negative several times. The actor adds that he is in constant touch with director Blessy and the Royal Jordanian Film Commission.

“I speak to them often and that feels good, but they don’t have any jurisdiction over my return … Regardless of who I am and what I do, there’s a procedure to be followed … I am just waiting eagerly for my clearance.”

Aby, who has lost out on a lot of work due to his situation, has been spending a lot of time indoors and is currently staying in a hotel. Working out in the hotel gym is now his favourite pastime.

“Most of the time I stay indoors speaking to friends and gearing up for work that awaits me … I have my bags packed and I am ready to go as soon as I get a clearance. I am also catching up on news and will continue to apply. I just want to get back to the UAE, my home.”