MUMBAI: It was a somber Sunday afternoon at Shivaji Park, where Shiv Sena supremo and magnetic leader Balasaheb Thackeray was cremated with full state honours. And not only Sena chief’s lakhs of admirers, but even Bollywood turned out in large droves to pay their last respects to the charismatic man.
The entire industry was overcome with grief upon news of Balasaheb’s unfortunate demise, and the extent of their grief was summed up aptly by Lata Mangeshkar, the Nightingale of India, who said, “Maharashtra is orphaned today”. She had always regarded Thackeray as a “father figure”.
The Bollywood brigade took to Twitter immediately upon hearing the news of Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray’s demise, to express their grief and condolences to the Thackeray patriarch’s family.
Veteran actor and megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who was known to be extremely close to the Thackeray family, revealed his early memories of the great cartoonist turned political leader. Bachchan senior recollected how Balasaheb had supported him during his tragic, near fatal accident on the sets of 1983 film “Coolie”.
“When I was flown in to Mumbai from Bangalore in semi-conscious state after ‘Coolie’ accident, it was his ambulance that took me to Breach Candy Hospital,” Amitabh recently posted on Twitter.
“When I fought for my life after ‘Coolie’ accident, he came to visit me in hospital, with a cartoon he had drawn – Yamraj defeated! Yamraj – God of Death, defeated by me… wish I was as proficient a cartoonist as he, I would wish to draw that for him,” tweeted the Bachchan family patriarch.
Even superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who had faced the wrath of Balasaheb on one previous occasion for his film ‘My Name is Khan’, tweeted about the lion-hearted man.
Shah Rukh Khan did not let that incident get in the way of his love for Balasaheb, and he even visited him before his demise.”Out of huge amount of regard, plus not only for his age and status, I have spent some good time with him. My mother once told me that you can fight in good times, but when bad time comes, you must pray and spread love,” SRK said at a recent event.
The filmmaker who even made a film loosely based on Bal Thackeray, Ram Gopal Varma tweeted, “If Godfather was not there, I wouldn’t have made ‘Sarkar’…if Balasaheb wasn’t there, I couldn’t have made ‘Sarkar’ (sic).”
RGV even revealed that the dialogues from ‘Sarkar’ were inspired by Balasaheb. “Many of the dialogue from both ‘Sarkar’ and ‘Sarkar Raj’ are actually Bala Saheb’s lines which I copied from what he said. He actually told me, ‘Mujhe jo sahi lagta hai main wahi karta hoon!’ which I copied and made Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan) say it in ‘Sarkar’,” he further posted.
Ailing thespian Dilip Kumar saab was also moved by the death of Balasaheb. “We are deeply grieving the passing of Balasaheb Thackeray who I always thought was not a Tiger but a Lion. He had the virtues of a lion… I found him extremely sensitive on occasions, especially during the days Sunil Dutt was going from pillar to post to get justice for his son Sanjay.”
Among the actors spotted at the public funeral of Balasaheb Thackeray were: Amitabh Bachchan, filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, Vinod Khanna, Sanjay Dutt with wife Manyata, sons-of-the-soil Riteish Deshmukh and Shreyas Talpade, Mahesh Manjrekar. The stars were joined by lakhs and lakhs of grieving Shiv Sena followers and civilians.