Raj Thackeray, Amitabh Bachchan share dias in Mumbai, end 5-year fight

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has bought peace with Amitabh Bachchan after slamming him for four years for being “anti-Marathi”.

Bachchan on Monday presided over a function hosted by the MNS’ film cell to commemorate the Indian cinema’s centenary. The event was held at Shanmukhananda auditorium in north-central Mumbai.

Bachchan inaugurated the MNS’ scheme to offer insurance cover to filmdom’s technicians and junior artistes. “The insurance scheme will help old and under-privileged artistes in their post-retirement phase,” he said.

Describing Hindi cinema as “parallel culture”‘, Bachchan said filmdom had brought laurels to the country across the world. “People know more about film personalities than any other prominent figures in public life,” he added.

MNS chief Raj Thackeray, who had launched a tirade against Bachchan a few years ago for being “anti-Maharashtra”, said his party was ready to bury the past. “But, my main issue remains as it is. Amitabh-ji doesn’t belong to a single province or state. He belongs to the entire country,” Thackeray said, adding, “Amitabh-ji is cinema’s greatest icon.”

The MNS chief’s rich praise of the Superstar is in sharp contrast with the party’s tirade against him in 2007 when he became the brand ambassador of Uttar Pradesh, his home state. Raj Thackeray publicly blasted Bachchan for nursing special affection for UP. He accused Bachchan of ignoring Maharashtra which gave him “fame and fortune”. Raj’s anti-Bachchan campaign was of a piece with his party’s parochial agenda which he wove around ‘aamchi’ Mumbai, say MNS watchers.