The Strange Saga of Nana Patekar and a ‘Slap’

Anil Sharma (left), Utkarsh Sharma (right) and the unit of Journey flank Nana Patekar. Photo: Instagram / Nana Patekar

It can happen to the best of us, especially in these days of social media misuse, which is as obnoxious as the mischief being played now with AI, but more so simply because of social media’s older origins and wider popularity.

Just a few days ago, I read a post about how a fan tried to get close to Nana Patekar for a ‘selfie’ in Varanasi and was slapped or boxed on his head by the actor and ran away. The mediaperson who posted this, not knowing the dignified and sober personality that Nana has been (far away from his fiery reel image), expressed distress and shock that a veteran actor of the masses could behave in such a deplorable way.

A day or two later came a clarification from filmmaker Anil Sharma. He stated on ‘X’ that the slap was a part of a scene being rehearsed for his new film, Journey, which also stars Utkarsh Sharma and Simrat Kaur, and that the viral video was taken by some onlooker, who assumed it to be real. The dialogues were that the young boy was to say something, addressing him as “Budhav” (old man) and Nana had to smack him and reprimand him by asking him to show some manners.

The complete truth was however tweeted by Nana Patekar in a video and a press statement, which was re-tweeted duly by Sharma. He stated that the scene was rehearsed once but director Anil Sharma wanted a second one. However, a young onlooker got in and touched Nana from behind in the same way as the film’s character was to do so. Thinking he was the junior artiste, Nana turned, spoke to him and hit him as the scene demanded and the terrified young boy ran away.

The actor added that the unit even tried to search for him later and he is still willing to apologize if the boy returns. “I have received so much love from all, especially the people in Varanasi, where we will be shooting for about 15 days more, and I have never done such a thing,” stated Nana.

I have met Nana twice for extensive interviews, and not for a second did he come across as anything but cool and even-tempered. In fact, the actor is so grounded that he is known to be up at dawn when at his farm in Wai, a small town about 225 kilometres from Mumbai, to sell his produce in the morning’s vegetable market!

Nana’s own Instagram is beset with abuses for him, which speaks volumes for the Frankenstein that social media can become today.




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