MUMBAI—Acclaimed Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui will play the title role of the late Shiv Sena founder-president Bal Thackeray in the upcoming biopic titled "Thackeray."
Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut attended the glittering launch function here on Dec. 21 evening.
"It's truly a great day for me. I am fortunate to have got an opportunity to enact the role of such a great personality which any actor in the world would love to do. I am sure Balasaheb will inspire and bless me in this venture," said Siddiqui in a video message since he was unable to attend the function as he is away shooting in Mauritius
The first promotional posters of the Hindi biopic – to be directed by Abhijit Panse – was unveiled by Uddhav Thackeray amidst a thunderous applause. The film is scheduled for release on Jan. 23, 2019, the 93rd birth anniversary of Thackeray.
Terming Bal Thackeray as "an unparalleled leader of the masses," Raut – who has scripted the film for nearly four years – exuded confidence that the film would prove popular with the mainstream audiences.
"I had spent much time with Balasaheb, and have been associated with him for nearly four decades. I have a deep knowledge of his life, and there are many aspects which shall be brought forth in the film," he said.
In his address, Amitabh Bachchan recalled his long association and memories with Bal Thackeray spanning over more than four decades, till his final moments on Nov. 17, 2012.
"When we first met, he somehow developed a liking for me and treated me as a family member, which was an honor for me. And he continued like that, always standing behind me, through thick and thin, helped and guided me for so many years," he said.
Big B recalled how in 1973 when Thackeray heard of his marriage, he "summoned" him and his bride Jaya to 'Matoshree,' the political family's residence in Bandra East.
"When we entered the home, Aai (Thackeray's wife, Minatai) accorded a loving welcome to Jaya, just like she would have welcomed her own daughter-in-law. We were moved and indebted by their warm gesture," he said.
The 75-year old actor recounted his near-death encounter in 1982 during the shooting of "Coolie," and he was shifted to Mumbai from then Bangalore for advanced treatment of his injuries sustained on the sets.
"When the flight landed in Mumbai, there was torrential rain, and there was no transport to rush me to the Breach Candy Hospital from the airport. But, a Shiv Sena ambulance was there, and it braved the weather to shift me to the hospital on time, or my health could have deteriorated further," he said.
Bachchan, who was among the handful of visitors permitted by Uddhav Thackeray to visit Thackeray in his last days, said that he was taken aback to see a picture of himself in a corner just beside the bed on which Thackeray was lying, and “this was another indicator of how much love and affection he had for me."
Bal K. Thackeray, the charismatic cartoonist-turned-firebrand politician, founded the Shiv Sena and had a gigantic presence in Maharashtra and national politics for over five decades.
Feared and revered in equal measure, he held sway over the entire state and national political scenario as the champion of Hindutva or "Hindu Hridaysamrat" till his demise on Nov. 17, 2012, aged 86.
The brief teaser released on Dec. 21 depicts a scene from the two-phased riots which bloodied Mumbai in December 1992-January 1993 in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Mosque and a grim Thackeray (Siddiqui) preparing to address his customary annual Dussehra Rally at Shivaji Park before a sea of saffron flags.