Cassian Baliarsingh

Fondly remembered as Balasaheb Thackeray, the Shiv Sena founder is considered one of the tallest leaders in Indian politics. He has been an inspiration for many and his legacy continues to live on.

After beginning his career as a cartoonist for Free Press Journal in Mumbai, he got involved in politics and founded the Shiv Sena. 

Due to his daring attitude, he shared an endearing relationship with some, and a love-and-hate relationship with a few others. He had a special bond with Bollywood, especially with Lata Mangeshkar, Big B Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan. 

Did you know that Balasaheb had once saved the life of Big B? When megastar Amitabh Bachchan got injured on the sets of ‘Coolie’, it was Balasaheb who sent his ambulance to take Big B to hospital. 

Recalling the incident, Big B wrote on Twitter, “When I was flown in to Mumbai from Bangalore in a semi-conscious state after Coolie accident, it was his ambulance that took me to Breach Candy Hospital.”

Big B further mentioned, “I was battling for life and he came to visit me in hospital, with a cartoon he had drawn - Yamraj defeated! Yamraj - God of Death, defeated by me... wish I was as proficient a cartoonist as he, I would wish to draw that for him."

Not just Bachchan, Thackeray had also extended a helping hand to superstars Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan and Reena Roy on many occasions. Even legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar used to call him a ‘father figure’ and said ‘Maharashtra is orphaned today’ after his death.

But the King of Romance Shah Rukh Khan once had to face Balasaheb’s wrath when he favoured inclusion of Pakistan in IPL in 2010. So much so that, in retaliation, Shiv Sena had threatened to ban the release of his movie ‘My Name is Khan’. Thackeray had also criticized the Bollywood superstar for his misbehaviour with security personnel at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

Below are a few lesser-known facts about the Shiv Sena founder: 

1. Born on January 23, 1926, Bal Thackeray joined politics after being inspired by his father.

2. His father Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, who was a cartoonist and journalist, had a huge influence on Thackeray.

3. Like his father, Thackeray also started his career as a cartoonist and worked with Free Press Journal.

4. Eventually, he quit his job and founded Marmud, a weekly political cartoon series focused on the problems of Marathi youth. It highlighted many important issues like lack of jobs and opportunities.

5. The Marmud was very successful and became the stepping stone of Bal Thackeray in politics. Later, he founded the Shiv Sena in 1966.

6. While Bal Thackeray never held an office in the government or fought an election, he rose to become the centre of Maharashtra’s politics in years to come.

7. Bal Thackeray was often referred to as the Hindu Hriday Samrat or the emperor of Hindu hearts for his efforts towards the cause of Hindutva.

8. Bal Thackeray passed away on November 17, 2012.