MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA NOVEMBER 22 , 2012 11.20 P.M.
I was trying to write this obituary since Saturday . But I couldn’t . There were many things , many thoughts running in my mind simultaneously . And in such circumstances flood-gates of memory gets opened and submerges our psyche .
On Saturday November 17 , 2012 , I was sitting in the office of my Acting Institute , Vidur’s Kreating Charakters , when I heard about the demise of Shri Bala Saheb Thackeray . I closed my Acting Class immediately and returned home . Then I started watching TV . Every channel was full of the sad news . While watching the channels , I was thrown into the year 1967 , the year I passed high school examinations , left my native place Deoria and went to Allahabad for higher studies .
The year was 1967 and Shiv Sena was just 1-year-old organization . I took admission in the Government Inter College , Allahabad and like all the youngsters of my age , I was trying to gather more knowledge , was trying to know more things about the world . I , along with my friends , used to read news papers and discuss events and personalities . Because of Shiv Sena’s pro – Marathi policies and staunch parochial attitude , the organization Shiv Sena and its leader Bal Thackeray [ as Bala Saheb was known then ] , was centre of debate and topic of many heated discussions .
I finished my studies , returned to my native place again and started my life afresh . Destiny sometimes plan things differently and plays unique games . So in 1989 I landed up in Bombay . The city , yet to be rechristened Mumbai , became my permanent abode . In 1989 Shiv Sena got registered as a political party . So my life in Mumbai and life of Shiv Sena as a political party began simultaneously in 1989 .
As I started living in Mumbai , I took note of Shiv Sena , started reading about it and started appreciating Shri Bala Saheb Thackeray and his ideology . I was not mature in 1967 , so I was critical of Bala Saheb’s policies and as a north – Indian felt bad when he uttered something against the north Indians . But as my life began in Mumbai , I started feeling that if someone feels that Marathi language , Marathi culture should be paramount in Maharashtra , there is no harm . If a leader says that Marathi should get preference in Maharashtra and it should be the state language , it is absolutely fine . Marathi language should get preference as the state language . If some organization advocates , propounds and is vocal about jobs for the son – of – the – soil , I feel that it is not unjustified at all and is definitely not anti – national .
So re – evaluation of Bala Saheb as a person and as a leader of Shiv Sena began in my mind . I must admit that slowly all the misgivings of previous years evaporated from my mind . 1990 onwards I could appreciate him in a much better way . I came to know about his early days as a cartoonist in ” The Free Press Journal ” . I saw some of the cartoons , which were published in ” Marmik ” , a magazine which he started after leaving ” The Free Press Journal “. He was second to none as a cartoonist , not even to the legendary R. K. Laxman . His cartoon character Kaka Ji , though not as famous as the Common Man of R. K. Laxman , was a poignant work of art . He even designed the famous logo of Raj Kapoor‘s R. K. Films .
As an orator , he had few equals . His connect with the masses was absolute . When I heard him for the first time , I was mesmerized , though my knowledge of Marathi was limited in those days .
It is unfortunate that I could not meet him in person . I am writing a book on acting and it was my secret wish that Bala Saheb should launch the book . Alas , along with so many wishes , my this wish will also remain unfulfilled .
While sitting at home and watching his funeral procession on Sunday , I remembered some other funeral processions of eminent Indians . I have seen Mahatma Gandhi’s funeral procession in photos . He attracted mammoth crowd even after his death . I do remember Jawahar Lal Nehru’s and Indira Gandhi’s last journey . Again the crowd was unprecedented . Last year I visited Anna Durai’s memorial in Puducherri and was stunned to see photos of his last journey . Apart from these above mentioned last journeys of great Indian leaders , I have never seen such huge crowd for anybody’s last journey . Jawahar Lal Nehru , Indira Gandhi and Anna Durai held high positions in government . Mahatma Gandhi is the sole example of not holding any post and still commanding such respect after his death . Bala Saheb stands second only to Mahatma Gandhi .
I am sad that I could not meet him earlier and now after his demise it is not possible anymore .
On my behalf and on the behalf of my acting institute Vidur’s Kreating Charakters , I offer condolences to Shri Uddhav Thackeray and the whole Thackeray family .
Nation lost a great leader and I lost an opportunity .
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA
- Bal Thackeray made Mumbai a great city: Lata Mangeshkar (vancouverdesi.com)
- Thackeray only non-MP to get obituary reference in parliament (indiavision.com)
- India Ink: What They Said: Bal Thackeray’s Death (india.blogs.nytimes.com)
- RIP Balasaheb Thackeray (kanaamedia.com)
- ‘Bal Thackeray was like a ray of hope and support for the ordinary Maharashtrian’ – Times of India (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
- Film Industry mourns Bal Thackeray’s death (thehindu.com)
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