The twinkle in his eyes when Uddhav Thackeray speaks about apertures, lenses, light effects, developing films, technology etc is understandable. Looking every bit the artist (not neta) in a rust-coloured kurta and white pyjama, the politician was stepping aside from the political turf and entering the realms of the photographic world.
With his photo-exhibition being inaugurated in the city and praises pouring in for his book Maharashtra Desha, does he ever wish he made this part-time passion a full-time profession? Replying in the negative, Uddhav says, "I have no regrets entering politics.
What I do regret, rather what I do question is the fact that why does humanity die when one enters politics? Though I am a politician, I am able to resurrect my emotions through art. Art is like oxygen to me; it rejuvenates me and keeps me mentally and emotionally fresh." NT on the artist-politician, who speaks about his tryst with the camera...
Adorning the cover of Uddhav's book is a jaw dropping beautiful picture of the famous Lonar Lake. Remind him that this and another two pictures are the books only Vidarbha connect and he says with a smile, "Vidarbha's picture is the cover picture of my book on Maharashtra! Isn't that saying a lot? Seriously, I thought the beauty of this crater will be most apt to capture the essence of my book." But, when do we see more of Vidarbha through his lens? He says, "I've travelled to Vidarbha mostly by road. I'd been to Tadoba around four years back and I'd love to come back again to capture the beautiful forts and forests of Vidarbha on my lens."
That he's a part of a heavyweight political bloodline is something that Uddhav has grown use to. However, it's simple things his family did together, which Uddhav cherishes the most. "My grandfather and grandmother would tell us stories from their era, which often spoke of the need for social change, not taking anything lying down etc. Those things made me introspect. Also, in my growing years I would love to observe my father (Balasaheb) as he drew caricatures even as I tried to grasp the thought behind his work. I guess that's how this seed of an artist took birth in me." So, how did he feel when he saw his first photo-exhibition? He says, "This larger than life portrayal of my work had me stunned; and not at a personal level. Maharashtracha vaibhav pahun mee achambit zhalo! My father always says that Maharashtra has a history and looking at those pictures I know what he means." As Uddhav's son Aditya too treads on the creative field, ask him if they ever discuss art at home and he says, "We discuss, but I don't interfere. He writes, sketches, and loves to photograph the abstract - something which I've never done!"
When Uddhav took over reigns of Shiv Sena, not many knew the man behind that calm fa‡ade. Today, as he's ensconced in his political role, ask him how he finds time to pursue photography and he says, "I do it just for a few days in a year, and if you are passionate about something, you have to find time for it." Doesn't his wife Rashmi complain about his investing so much time in his passion for photography? He smiles and recounts a little incident: "I've had some scary experiences on board a helicopter as a photographer, which I had recounted on a show. It was only then that she knew what I am upto in the air! Of course, now she knows everything and has encouraged me all along." Uddhav often sports jeans with checked shirts, which is a refreshing image makeover for a politician. Ask him who chooses these stylish clothes and he says, "My wife's my designer!"