We have often heard that one should not judge a book by its cover. Make it an exception this time as the cover of ‘Trail Of The Tiger’ is as telling as the content. It is a well-researched and accounted read, when it comes to understanding the change in the colours of the ‘Tiger’s’ stripes from striking saffron to soothing secular.
Photography and politics have always had one thing in common, and that was an alphabet P. Until, Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray stepped into both the domains, displaying skills in capturing dense forests to the actual 'wild' life of Maharashtra politics. Only difference being, as a wildlife photographer he had to guard his own self, while as a politician he had an unfathomable guard of Hindu Hriday Samrat Balasaheb Thackeray and an army of Shiv sainiks.
Author Radheshyam Jadhav has played it brilliantly by opening the book with a mention of dedicated Shiv Sena worker (Shiv sainik), Mahesh Patil. An individual whose loyalty and devotion towards his ‘God,’ Balasaheb Thackeray, and Shiv Sena remains unchanged till date. Even if the guard has changed and so has the ideology, for Mahesh who works at a tailoring shop in Umbraj town in Karad, the colour of his loyalty is still striking saffron. Such an opening to the book does make a reader think from a party worker's perspective while reading the book even when some chapters touch upon a few family battles at Matoshree.
Every chapter unfolds the story within and outside the Thackeray family and links it to the political domain then and now. Smart play of words and mention of certain instances in the book by the author, shows personal as well as political sides of the father-son (Balasaheb and Uddhav) duo.
Uddhav held his first photography exhibition, titled ‘Live and Let Live,’ at the Jehangir Art Gallery in 1999. The rules of politics are different from those of the jungle and a seasoned politician like Balasaheb knew that the political jungle was not about ‘live and let live,’ but the survival of the fittest. On the backdrop of the emerging bitterness between Uddhav and his cousin Raj Thackeray, the Sena chief knew that there was more humanity and warmth in the deep woods than in the city’s concrete jungle.
Passing away of Balasaheb Thackeray and rise of Narendra Modi as new the Hindu Hriday Samrat, Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray in seats of power, the ever-changing prism of family equations and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) dilemma to deal with the tug of war in the Hindutva camp is what ‘Trail Of The Tiger’ leads you to.
As you go deeper and deeper into the woods, page after page, one thing keeps resurfacing repeatedly: that even today the name Balasaheb Thackeray echoes in the jungles of Maharashtra politics. Just as it makes its magnanimous presence felt on the cover of this book, though the book is mainly about his son Uddhav Thackeray’s journey from a professional photographer in an advertising firm to Maharashtra’s Chief Minister. Minus Balasaheb from the cover, and what remains is just an image of Uddhav Thackeray — a mirror image of that in real life.
Book: Trail Of The Tiger: Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray: A Journey
Author: Radheshyam Jadhav
Price: Rs 599