On Wednesday night, many people of this city went to bed with the sweet memory of the rare visit of the Sardar of Satire, Jaspal Bhatti, and on Thursday morning, woke up to the tragic news of his death in a road accident.
Bhatti's third visit to Bathinda in a decade proved to be his last. He had stopped here for the promotion of his Punjabi movie, "Power Cut", which will release on Friday. The city was amused with his idea of worshipping Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Power Plant for the success of the film mocking at the electricity crisis in Punjab.
Many had flocked to the location to catch a glimpse of the comedy actor and have a photograph with him. His fans had a great time with him even at a local mall, where he sang boliyan from his upcoming movie. The local media took his death with bigger disbelief, for they had interviewed him only a few hours ago.
At 8.45pm on Wednesday, Hindustan Times photojournalist Kulbir Beera clicked the last photograph of the master satirist. It was to be his parting shot. "I requested Jaspal Bhatti to delay his journey to Jalandhar until morning," said Beera, "but he was keen to release the music of Power Cut in Jalandhar at 2pm, and then promote his move in an educational institute of that city. It was his last interaction with any journalist."
"Interviewing Bhatti was a heavy dose of laughter," said Gurprem Lehri, journalist on a vernacular newpaper. "He made even serious statements in his trademark witty style. He had the heart and the mind of a great journalist. The next generations of Punjabi journalists will not have the pleasure to see this."
"One minute, I was reading a newspaper carrying Bhatti's image of worshiping the thermal-energy plant, and the next minute I heard on television news that he was no more. I thought the anchor was lying," Said Baljinder Singh Vehniwal, one of Bhatti's fans from Bathinda.