Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, during his many visits to Mumbai, had shown deep understanding and passion for films and theatre, recalled film critic and freelance writer Sudhir Nandgaonkar on Friday.“In the early 1980s, I received a call from a senior BJP leader asking me to recommend a film or play worth watching. ‘Our leader Atalji (Bihari Vajpayee) wants to know’, he said. I recommended Marathi film Umbartha, which Vajpayee went to watch,” he said.
“As he came out after the film, director Jabbar Patel happened to be present there… When Patel asked Vajpayee about the film, he replied, ‘well, Smita Patil in the lead role is brilliant… but to my mind, this is a medium for the director’,” added Nandgaonkar. “On another occasion, Vajpayee arrived in Mumbai for scheduled party work. But on his way, he saw posters on the Marathi Sahitya Sammelan and wanted to attend it … I received a call from BJP leaders enquiring about the sammelan. Accordingly, the organisers were informed that Vajpayee was coming.”
“The next morning, Vajpayee arrived at the venue. When he spotted me, he said, ‘kya main aa sakta hu (can I come)’? In reply, I said, ‘who can stop you… on the contrary, our Sammelan officials and secretary are ready to welcome you’,” said Nandgaonkar.