Raj Thackeray buries hatchet, praises Big B

Five years after the two personalities were involved in a war of words, peace seems to have finally taken over. As reported by MiD DAY (‘Amitabh Bachchan, Raj Thackeray to share stage after five years’, December 21), veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan was seen at an event organised by the Maharashtra Navnirman Chitrapat Karmachari Sena (MNCKS) to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema.

Raj Thackeray and Amitabh Bachchan share the stage at the function organised by the MNS film union. Actor Sachin Pilgaonkar is also seen with them. Pic/Rane Ashish

The function was also marked by the distribution of insurance policies to its members, who are part of the crew of many films. “When I was told that Amitabh Bachchan had said yes, I asked my people whether they had informed Amitji the party’s name and that I will be present at the event. Or else, he (Amitabh Bachchan) would come and say ‘Ye kahan aa gaye hum’,” said Raj Thackeray, the president of MNS at the function held in Shanmukhananda Hall, Matunga yesterday.

Bachchan and Thackeray were last seen together in 2004, after which Raj started his anti-north Indian agitation in the year 2008. His first target was Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan. However, Raj claimed that was all in the past. “Zhale gele Gangela milale (It’s all water under the bridge)”. Even the Ganga flows from Uttar Pradesh, and we still respect it,” he said.

Bachchan’s fan
Admiring the actor, he added, “The amount of love a person from Allahabad has for Bachchan is the same as that a Marathi manoos has for him. My stand still remains the same, but I reiterate that I am a big fan of Amitji. He has been the biggest star that the Indian film industry has seen and there is no actor like him. Even today, before the event, people called to ask me whether it was true (about Bachchan attending the event).”

Thackeray also spoke of the actor’s command over Hindi, “We need to learn from him the command over language. When we speak, it should be like he does, not like our Mumbaiya Hindi.” He then, on public demand, recited ‘Agnipath’, a poem penned by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, the actor’s late father.

While Bachchan refrained from making any political statements, he spoke in Marathi. Bachchan said, “I am proud to be here. I believe the people who made the stars backstage artists are never given any credit. It is commendable that the MNCKS has given them insurance policies. These policies are useful during old age.”

Bachchan referred to Thackeray as ‘Rajsaheb’, an honour not accorded to Uddhav, whom the actor calls Uddhavji. Bachchan is known to be closer to Uddhav Thackeray. Actor Sachin Pilgaonkar also shared the dais with Thackeray and Bachchan. Singers Shankar Mahadevan, Suresh Wadkar, Swapnil Bandodkar and lyricist Swanand Kirkire also performed at the event. The event was held to uplift the image of MNCKS, which had recently taken a battering, and also inducted new faces into the union. 

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