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'What the country has given me is a lot more than what the prime ministership can give me'

By SUBHASH K JHA
Last updated on: November 09, 2021 08:59 IST
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'Sanjeev Kumar was my favourite actor. But no one can compare with Amitabh Bachchan.'

IMAGE: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu helps his political mentor Lal Kichenchand Advani cut a cake on his 94th birthday on November 8, 2021 as another Advani protege looks on. Photograph: PTI Photo

On the occasion of Lal Kishenchand Advani's 94th birthday, Subhash K Jha dug deep into his archives to locate this gem from his archives:

 

Advaniji, you are keenly interested in movies.

Yes, I've been a filmgoer since my school days, both Hindi and Hollywood films.

I've even seen Ashok Kumar and Devika Rani in Achut Kanya.

That goes back a long way to even when talkies films had not started.

For a long time, Sanjeev Kumar was my favourite actor. But no one can compare with Amitabh Bachchan.

A few years back I had the occasion to give him a lifetime achievement award.

You used to be a film critic.

I was a political writer at the Organiser (the English weekly associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh).

One day at our editorial meeting we felt the paper was too dry.

I had not been seeing films for a long time. But I decided to give film criticism a try.

Incidentally, there's an interesting reason why I resumed watching films after a long gap.

What is that reason?

For several years I was too engrossed in my party work to see films.

Then when I was visiting my Mama (maternal uncle) in Mumbai I saw a news item in the paper that a viewer had died of shock while watching the horror film House Of Wax.

I had to see the film. No, I wasn't frightened. The best Hollywood film I've seen is David Lean's The Bridge Over The River Kwai.

Do you get time to watch films nowadays?

Only on the DVD. And occasionally in the theatre with my daughter Pratibha if she recommends a film strongly.

The last film I saw in the theatre was Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.I really liked it.

I mentioned this to my parliamentarian colleague, the director of the film Zoya Akhtar's father, Javed Akhtar. He was very happy.

IMAGE: Mr Advani, escorted by daughter Prathiba, right, son Jayant and long-time personal secretary Deepak Chopra, greets Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi as he arrives to greet the Bharatiya Janata Party veteran on his 94th birthday, November 8, 2021. Photograph: PTI Photo

One of our most beautiful actresses Hema Malini is part of your party. Do you think her beauty adds to the vote bank?

It isn't just a beautiful face. She is also beautiful in discharging her duties as a party member.

Sir, do share your beauty secrets with us. How do you stay so fighting at your age?

(Laughs) There is no magic mantra. I truly feel if a person is at peace with himself he'd be at peace with his body and his health.

Secondly, my family has been taking good care of me. I'm a frugal eater. I don't eat much.

In fact, breakfast is my main meal. I take fruits, cornflakes and milk.

Don't you get hungry especially now when you are travelling non-stop?

Not at all! It's been like this for many years now.

Let me tell you a small incident that happened when I went to the Escorts hospital to see Nana Deshmukh when he was admitted to hospital.

I was told Sharad Pawar was also there, so I visited him also.

There were two doctors sitting there. One of them asked me how old I was.

When I told him my age, the doctor asked, 'Is George Fernandes older or younger?' I told him he is three years younger. When I had become a minister in Morarji Desai's Cabinet the youngest minister in the Cabinet was George.

The other doctor had a thesis about food intake. When God created Man he decides how much food he consumes in his lifetime.

It all depends on the man whether he wants to consume the food God has destined for him, in 50 or 70 years. I believe in this theory.

Still, where do you get the energy to do so much at your age?

I became a member of the RSS at the age of 14.

The first seven years after I joined the RSS were spent in Karachi.

In 1947 my family and I left Karachi and came to this side of the country.

Thereafter for ten years, I was in Rajasthan working for the RSS.

In 1952 the Jan Sangh was formed. That's when I became active in politics.

I've always regarded the RSS, the Jan Sangh and the BJP as my ideological parivar. And then there's my own personal family.

Both families have given me the love and respect and support that have sustained through all these years.

Would you say solid family life is imperative for a successful existence?

It certainly applies to me.

Sir, there's a lot of talk about you aspiring to be prime minister.

May I tell you, what the country has given me is a lot more than what the prime ministership can give me.

Your final thoughts?

I'd like to see the young people aspire to bring India to the forefront of the community of nations.

In my school days, the only aspiration was to free our country of British rule.

Now the aspiration is to see our country as a leader among nations.

If we resolve not to resort to corrupt practices in our individual capacity and secondly, force the government to bring back the huge amount of money that has been sent abroad, it is possible to bring prosperity to rural India. That's where progress begins.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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