Jaldi 5 with Bharat Dabholkar: Thackeray was unique… he was a Brand

19 Nov,2012

In his long career as an adman, playwright and theatrperson, Bharat Dabholkar has interacted much with Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, including sharing some lighter moments. MxMIndia asked the veteran adman for his views on Mr Thackeray and why he thinks it’s appropriate to call him a Brand


01. Your comments on the sea of humanity and outpouring to pay their last respects to Bal Thackeray.

 It’s a demonstration of the kind of sway the man held over people in Mumbai and Maharashtra. This is not some sponsored rally. On one hand, this is a tribute to his charisma. And it is also the picture of Shiv Sena, who from every nook and corner are very well-organised. From what I heard, there are over 20 lakh people and they are behaving in disciplined and orderly manner. It is great tribute to him. And it is a personal love of people for him.


02. We heard a few people on television discussions refer to him as a Brand. Would it be right to dub Bal Thackeray as that… a Brand?

Yes. H was a brand because he was only politician that I have met who was very outspoken and simple. Even his speeches were not very literary. He was very straightforward. He spoke the way things should be spoken. This is what made him a unique brand. A brand has to be unique otherwise it is just a product.


03. Mr Thackeray had a view on the Arts and life. Do you recall any observations or run-ins he may have had over any ads?

No. He was very respectful of any creative art whether it was music. He might have said something about a writer or so but according to my knowledge, I do not remember him saying something about an ad.


04. As an editorial cartoonist, do you think he was a propagator of freedom of speech in the Arts?

He practised that as a cartoonist. And his newspaper and magazine also carries that. And he would have to be like that for the comments and observations he had about his opponents and politics, they had to have a background that allowed him to say all these things. He was a propagator of freedom of speech since as a cartoonist or a journalist, he needed that.


05. Your personal experiences or anecdotes that you remember.

I have known him for many years and have had many interactions with him. but one that I remember is the way we used to celebrate his bypass surgery. It used to be celebrated as ‘Punar Janam Diwas’. It used to be very small get-together with a few close friends. And politics or so was never discussed, it was basically fun and games and cracking jokes.


In one such meeting, I told him a joke and he laughed a lot. Then, after dinner as I was leaving, his Man Friday Mr Thapa, came and said, ‘Sa’ab is calling you’. So I went inside again, and Mr Thackeray said ,’Bharat, you told me that joke, tell that to me again.’  So I told him again. And he asked for my permission to use it in his speeches.


I found it very endearing that normally people do not ask for permissions to re-use jokes. But he actually called me back and asked for my permission to use that joke. He was a polite guy in person.


Can you share that joke?

It was about a guy who is Congressman and goes to another Congressmen’s house. And he is talking to his little boy about how Congress family is doing. And the boy said, “Uncle, everybody in our family is a Congressman. My father is, my mother is, and I am a Congressman. Our cat is Congressman, and she has just got three kittens who are all Congressman.” The man was very happy to hear this, and after a month he visited the kid’s house and asked again, ‘How is the Congress cat and kitten doing?’ The kid replied, “Uncle, everybody is a Congressman but the kittens have joined Shiv Saina since their eyes have opened.”


Interviewed by Ananya Saha


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