Kolkata, Aug 16 (IANS) A family in central Kolkata, who had hosted former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his visits to the city since 1956, on Thursday reminisced how the veteran politician fell in love with the Farooq Shaikh-Rekha-starrer 1981 film ‘Umrao Jaan’ and ended up watching the movie a number of times during his stay here.
Vajpayee, who regularly put up at his close friend Ghanshyam Beriwal’s residence opposite Mahajati Sadan on Kolkata’s C.R. Avenue, said he and his family members was amazed by the humility and good behaviour of the veteran politician.
“He loved watching films. Umrao Jaan was one of his favourites. He liked it so much that he watched the cassette of the film two-three times. Later he took the cassette with him to Delhi.
“Vajpayeeji was very fond of music and movies. We even took him to movie theatres a few times in Kolkata. But for him, work was always the first priority,” said Beriwal, who first met Vajpayee during an RSS meeting in 1956.
“He was extremely humble and well mannered. He used to behave nicely with everyone. Humility and treating everyone as equal were the signs of his greatness,” he reminisced.
For Beriwal and his family members, Vajpayee was more of a friend than a political leader, who even used to chit-chat with them and watched television programmes during his idle hours here.
“He had no airs about him … a very simple man… he liked watching television and chit-chatting with our family members when he used to stay here,” Beriwal said.
He also revealed that Vajpayee was fond of sweets and “phuchkas”, both synonymous with the city.
“He liked spicy food. Since we were a vegetarian, he used to have phuchkas with us. He also liked to have desserts. He was very fond of Kheer,” he added.