Nana Patekar's is a fascinating story. He is a 'star' who would rather travel in an autorickshaw than buy a luxury car for himself, and decides to spend his hard earned money on the grieving families of farmers who have committed suicide. The actor has shown us what it takes to be a conscientious citizen by quietly practising what he doesn't even preach.
Nana Patekar. Pic/Sameer Markande
It is not often that you come across someone like Nana. While most of us on an everyday basis read the pitiful stories of farmers, who are ending their lives due to penury and poverty, and then move on, Nana decided to do something about it. He's been visiting the widows of the farmers and extending financial assistance.
Nana Patekar interacts with widows of farmers who committed suicide in the Vidarbha region at an event in Nagpur on August 10. Pic/PTI
At the same time, he is trying to start a dialogue with the government to aid their cause. Prod him about it and he brushes it off initially. "I am not doing a big deal. All of us want to help, but most of us are not sure if the money we want to give will reach the right people. So, I decided to visit these people myself and help them," he says.
Nana has visited 112 widows in Marathwada Beed and now he plans to interact with 700 more in Nagpur, Latur, Hingoli, Parbani, Nanded, Aurangabad, Usmanabad, Jalna, Bhusawal, Jalgaon, etc. He says, "I just received a call from Devendra Fadnavis (Maharashtra chief minister). We have been friends before he became the CM. I can talk to him one on one. At the same time, I can go to farmers and talk to them. I am hoping my being a mediator will help."
Why the farmer's issue? "Right now, it is of utmost importance. Today, I heard someone committed suicide. If after 69 years of independence, we can't provide water and electricity to people, it is ridiculous. Now the BJP has taken over, earlier there was Congress. We need to take these things seriously. I feel it is time for a revolution. If a farmer can kill himself, tomorrow he can kill you. Look at the level of his frustration. Beware, this situation could become dangerous. Their helplessness could turn into rage, they might turn Naxalites. You are creating that kind of a situation. Just give them electricity and water, which is their basic right. Come on, they provide you bread," he states.
For someone who comes from a humble background himself, isn't he insecure of not having money when he's giving away most of what he's earned?
"Paisa is a by-product. I will get it anyway. Rs 10 crore or Rs 100 crore won't give me security. I feel secure by doing this. It is only a bandage on a huge wound. But in the process I am securing that human being that is still alive in me. Everyone will forget me if I stop acting in films. You won't come to interview me, but I know that those people (farmers) will remember me for life," he says matter-of-factly.
Ask him about certain uncomfortable changes that are taking place in the country and he simply says, "Why would I care about what they are banning? They should know that before implementing bans. Their responsibility is to provide basic things to the people. Sixty five per cent of the populace lives in villages and for them, nothing matters as long as they get basic facilities like electricity and water. Unfortunately, we have not been able to provide them even that."