Defender of the Marathi manoos. Protector of Hindus. The Hindu Hriday Samrat. Bal Thackeray almost single-handedly changed Mumbai forever - not just the name of the city but its very character and fabric.
So charged was Thackerays rhetoric so unequivocal his identification with the Hindu right that it seems counter-intuitive to claim he was not driven by ideology. Yet that is what the facts reveal. He was capable of seeking to enter into agreements with the Muslim League and Dalit parties even as he virulently lambasted them in public. Viscerally opposed though he was to the communists and communism he had no problems inviting the great S.A. Dange to address Sena workers.
Samrat Balasaheb Thackeray is a unique insight into how a rather timid man from a modest background was shaped by circumstances and vested interests into a demagogue with the kind of success and following few could dream of. It explores the life and times of the enigmatic person behind that powerful mask. An instance: Thackeray was mortally afraid of going to jail a fact exploited by both his friends and enemies. That is why he supported the Emergency and why he recanted on the Sena's role in the Babri Masjid demolition.
There was never a dull moment with Bal Thackeray and there is none in this book packed as it is with anecdotes stories and interviews. This is after all the story of the rise of the Shiv Sena and the decline of mighty Mumbai.