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Monday, 20 February 2012

THE SECRET DIARY OF Vilasrao Deshmukh


ILLUSTRATION BY SORIT
THE SECRET DIARY OF
Vilasrao Deshmukh
What was wrong in my handing over 20 acres of prime land to a close friend, producer Subhash Ghai, for his Whistling Woods film institute?

All of Bollywood was there as my son Ritesh married the beautiful Genelia. I was happy, I had done my bit for national integration...and then for the second time in my life, the courts played spoilsport. What was wrong in my handing over 20 acres of prime land to a close friend, producer Subhash Ghai, for his Whistling Woods film institute. Ask anyone in Latur, everyone will tell you I have a passion for whistling and was known as ‘Sitiwala Vilasrao’.
Through my political career, I have whistled my way through many crises but then who appreciates talent? My intention was to have a great film and TV training institute in Bollywood city so that even after the Khans and Riteshes retire we have a new crop of stars ready to take over. If someone remarked, “Ask not what your country did for you but what you did for your country,” I would have proudly replied, Whistling Woods Institute! When so much land was lying unutilised, was it wrong to donate a mere 20 acres for a noble cause? We need trained people for every profession and but for this spoilsport judgement, I would have started an institute to train judges so that they give the right verdicts.
While the judgement said that Respondent 7 (myself) extended undue favours to Respondent 4 (Whistling Woods), I would rather go by my counsel’s argument that I had signed the agreement with Ghaiji merely as a goodwill gesture and it was done on the spur of the moment. I was actually whistling when I signed the deal papers.
People know me as an impulsive person full of goodwill gestures. As Maharashtra CM, under one such impulse I invited director Ram Gopal Varma to come with me to inspect the damage inflicted on the Taj Hotel by terrorists. My action to shield a moneylender friend—who was allegedly responsible for some farmer suicides in Vidarbha—was also an impulsive, goodwill gesture. Obviously, our high command did not like such impulses and I had to quit. My lawyer rightly pointed out that no malafide intentions could be attributed to me because I was not aware of the contents of the agreement between Ghaiji’s Mukta Arts and the state government. You see, whatever post I held in the government, I made it a habit not to read any official papers which I had to sign. They are so boring. I’d rather read Stardust or the film scripts my son gets so that I can advise him.
Even with this controversy hanging over me, I am enrolling for the acting course at Whistling Woods so that in case I have to quit government I can turn to acting (a much more interesting and satisfying option than being the governor of Nagaland or Puducherry). Who knows, I could play the angry father to my son Ritesh and mouth classic dialogues like ‘Yeh shaadi nahin ho sakta’. No high court judge will be able to challenge my role then.