I clicked this photograph for The New Yorker for a story on Hindutva in the late 1990s. The Thackerays asked me to come for the photo shoot at around 10:30 in the morning. Udhav received me and Bal Thackeray took me around, asking me where I wanted to take the picture. He was interested because he had also been taking pictures for a long time.
I looked at the rooms and decided to put the elements of the tiger and Shivaji together as these things where what he represented.
We started at around 11:15. I was expecting it to be a 15 minute shoot but at 12 noon Thackeray looked at the clock and said, “Ab to mera cigar aur wine ka time ho gaya hai”. (It is now time for me to have my cigar and wine.)
He asked if I would mind if he went ahead. As a photographer there was nothing more I would have wanted as no one had photographed him like that before. He lit a cigar and brought a glass of wine and was very comfortable with getting clicked. No other politician would have agreed to get clicked like that.
I had expected him to be very curt but he turned out to be the complete opposite of what I had anticipated. He would make such drastic statements on political issues but here he was - being polite, welcoming spontaneous and very open. He got clicked for as long as I wanted which was contrary to the image I had of him.
As told to Mallica Joshi