Amitabh Bachchan Recalls Bal Thackeray's Support During Bofors Scandal

Balasaheb, Mr Bachchan said, had even helped save his life after the near-fatal accident on the sets of the film "Coolie" in 1982.

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Amitabh Bachchan Recalls Bal Thackeray's Support During Bofors Scandal

Amitabh Bachchan, at an event, said he shared a "very intimate and personal" with Bal Thackeray (file)


Mumbai:  Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan had shared close ties with Bal Thackeray, one of the most enigmatic politicians who had millions of devoted followers and once controlled Mumbai. For him, Mr Bachchan said, Balasaheb was like family and their relation was "very intimate and personal". On Thursday, at the at the release of a teaser of the biopic on the late leader, the  75-year-old actor had several anecdotes to share on how the late Shiv Sena patriarch helped him over the roughest patches of his life.

Speaking at a hotel in suburban Mumbai, Mr Bachchan recalled the time when he and his family were facing allegations on the Bofors scandal. Balasaheb, Mr Bachchan said, had called him over and asked him a question.

"(He said) 'Tell me whether what is happening is right or not and tell me the truth'. I said, 'Balasaheb there is no substance in this'. He asked, 'Are you telling the truth'. I said yes. He said 'Don't be scared'. He then told me to stay indoors as a storm was brewing outside. 'And when the storm subsides, walk out with your head held high and I will walk with you'," Mr Bachchan said.

Balasaheb, Mr Bachchan said, had even helped save his life after the near-fatal accident on the sets of the film "Coolie" in 1982.  

"I was brought from Bangalore to Mumbai. It was raining and there were no ambulances available. At that time, it was the Shiv Sena ambulance which came to take me to the hospital," Mr Bachchan said.

After his marriage to Jaya Bachchan, Balasaheb had invited him and his wife to his home, Mr Bachchan said.  It was hard for him to see the ailing leader before his death in 2012, Mr Bachchan said.

Recalling a visit during that time, the actor said, "I was in the room with Aaditya as Uddhavji had allowed me to go and see him. I was immensely touched when I saw a photo of myself on the side of bedridden Balasaheb. It was intolerable to see him suffering. I never wanted to see him like that on the bed." 

Balasaheb Thackeray, who had formed the Shiv Sena 1966 to advocate for the interests of Maharashtrians in Mumbai's political and professional landscape, died at the age of 87. The news of his death brought Mumbai came to a virtual halt. Shops and commercial establishments had shut down and thousands of police and paramilitary personnel had to be deployed across the city to keep the peace. 

On his fifth death anniversary this year, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis dedicated a proposed site for the memorial of the Shiv Sena founder.

The biopic on Balasaheb Thackeray is being made by Shiv Sena's Rajya Sabha lawmaker Sanjay Raut, in which Nawazuddin Siddiqui will play the lead role.


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