This past week, everyone in our Nation and world over mourned the death of one of the greatest leaders India has ever seen; Bharat Ratna Shree Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was loved by many and respected by all, even those who may not have liked him. People, even with a different ideology in politics couldn’t help but respect the man that he was and the things that he tried to achieve for the country and its residents. Not only he was a great statesman, but was also a profound poet, writer and a lover of arts, be it in any forms. He had always been a patron of art and hence his association with Bollywood was so strong.

Atalji had many admirers in the industry and of them most prominent were Lata Mangeshkarji and Dilip Kumarji. Atalji also were a huge fan of Bollywood films and the music and everything related to it. He would often sit and discuss about poetry and literature with Dilip Saab for hours. There was a really healthy give and take relationship between the industry and politics when he was the Prime Minister. Be it with politics or with the Bollywood industry, he always generously gave something back to the society. He gave that sense of being a proper industry to Bollywood; that sense of belonging to a proper construction of people who are in it together for the art of making films. It also gave everyone that sense of unity. Calling it a film ‘industry’ showed his farsightedness that gave the industry a proper status of an industry and not just ‘glamour’. It also helped tackle the issue of piracy which had plagued the industry a lot in those years, it still did after his tenure but then it eventually united the industry as a whole.

25th December 2010, which was his birthday, is when my father met Atalji, 8 years ago, where they discussed films, poetry and art in general among various other things. My father had always looked up to the man that he was, and always drew inspiration from him. It is what drew me to Atalji as well. I remember watching his speeches in Lok Sabha with my father. I then realized what made my father fascinate with him. He had this demeanour, this stature and always had that great aura about him that surrounded him and he had his way with words, and more importantly knew to act on them. For those who know me, know me as a very apolitical person, I’m not a big fan of politics. But I really respected and liked Atalji as a leader, mainly because of my father. That is one memory I will always cherish, my dad getting to meet one of his heroes and a person he always wanted to meet for the longest time.

By – Amul Vikas Mohan

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