“Atalji was a big fan of Hindi movies. He loved cinema and he was very closely associated with one of my starrers Kranti which Manoj Kumar directed and played the lead in. Mr Manoj Kumar would constantly tell us about Atalji’s advice and guidance for the film…I owe my political career to Atalji. He thought it would be a good idea for me to join the BJP and campaign in the elections for the party. Atalji sent me a message through my dear friend and dear co-star Vinod Khanna who encouraged me a lot to join politics. But I was not sure. I told my mother about my misgivings. ‘How can I give political speeches? I know nothing about politics.’
My mother was very fluent in Hindi. She wrote out my entire first political speech and I just memorized it and that’s how I entered politics…Atalji and L K Advani are the two pillars of the BJP. They were there from the start. Atalji was poet and cinema-arts connoisseur. A lot of the politicians from the earlier generations loved the movies. I’ve heard that when they were young Advaniji and Atalji would zip off to see all the new films. Advaniji rode the scooter and Atalji rode pillion. I was told Atalji was a fan of Dev Anand and me. I never asked him about it and we never spoke it. But his affection, grace, and charm were undeniable.
Whenever he met he was kind and friendly. I remember he sent me a message to perform my dance ballet in Lucknow, which I did. But he couldn’t attend my performance. During his prime ministership, India went through many positive changes. During the last ten years of his life, he was sadly indisposed. But the BJP and our Prime Minister Narendra Modiji continued to follow Atalji’s ideology. Atalji’s influence on the BJP and on the politics of the country will never fade.”