When Raj Thackeray kicked off his anti-North Indians campaign in 2008, he first trained his guns on Amitabh Bachchan and his family. The MNS chief had targeted the actor for opening a school in his native place Uttar Pradesh, rather than in Maharashtra. In one of his speeches, Thackeray had stated, “Jaya Bachchan says that she knows only one Thackeray, and that’s Balasaheb Thackeray. And in the same breath she had said, ‘If Raj Thackeray wants to open a school for girls, then he should provide his own plot.’
So she doesn’t know who Raj Thackeray is, but knows where my plots are.” Things went from bad to worse, and there came a time when it was said that Raj and Amitabh would never be seen on the same platform again. That’s likely to change on December 23, when the two heavyweights are expected to share a dais. On Monday, Maharashtra Navnirman Chitrapat Sena - the film wing of MNS - is celebrating 100 years of Indian Cinema, and has decided to provide insurance policies to its members to mark the occasion. Sources say the distribution will be done at the hands of Bachchan in Shanmukhanand Hall.
Shalini Thackeray, vice-president of MNS, confirmed to MiD DAY that Bachchan had agreed to attend the event. She claimed that the relationship between the actor and Raj was always cordial. However, when reminded of the comments made by her party chief during the 2008 anti-North Indians movement, she went on the defensive and said, “It was all misinterpreted. There was never anything wrong between Rajsaheb and Bachchanji.”
“The party decided to celebrate 100 years of Bollywood, and who better than Amitabh Bachchan to grace the programme. Rajsaheb is a big fan of Bachchanji, and Bachchanji loves Rajsaheb,” she added. Akhilesh Chaubey, general secretary (legal) of MNS, said, “It’s a gesture that’s been welcomed by the party.”
All after a call
According to party insiders, Raj Thackeray took the first step and called up Amitabh Bachchan. While the exact details of the conversation remain unknown, it’s been reported that it was a very formal chat, and at the end Raj invited Amitabh for the event on December 23, and the actor agreed. Bachchan’s representative didn’t respond to our message seeking confirmation on whether or not he was attending the function.