While the country is headed into the election fever, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a light moment with Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar. Taking a break from the electoral campaigning amid the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, PM Modi spoke to Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar in a "non-political" interview where he shared anecdotes from his personal life and beyond.
Beginning his interaction, Kumar said that his maid's daughter wants to know if the Prime Minister eats mangoes:
Laughing heartily and admiring the innocence, Prime Minister said: "I eat mangoes and I love them. In Gujarat we also have a festival of mangoes."
On being asked about his fashion statement particularly about his half sleeves style, the Prime Minister said:
"You asked a very good question. Just like how my image as a strict and angry person is created similarly there is another image about my clothes. Now, the truth is that I used to carry a small bag and travel a lot. And till the time I became the Chief Minister, I used to wash my own clothes. So, I thought that if I wear long sleeves then the washing will take more efforts and time. Plus it would take up more space in my bag. Therefore, I trimmed it myself".
"Because of poverty, I used to feel inferior. We could not iron own clothes so what I used to do was take a bowl and fill it up with coal and then used it to press clothes. I had no shoes. Once one of my uncle got me white canvas shoes. In few days, they became dirty. So, every day after school, I used to stay back in class, collect chalk pieces and used it to polish my shoes", he added.
When Khiladi Kumar asked him, if he ever thought that one day he will become the Prime Minister of India.
"No never, my mother would have been equally happy if I would have gotten a small job. I never thought of it. And common people do not think about it. People who might become one think about it. It is quite natural that people who come such (political) family background have the desire (to be PM). With my family background, my mother would have been celebrating by feeding jaggery to neighbours if I would have gotten even a small job. She would have been that her son got a job, because in those times we did not see anything outside the village. This journey kept on going and the country kept me moving ahead. Responsibilities kept on coming," the Prime Minister said.
When Akshay Kumar gave him a hypothetical situation that if he had Aladin ka chirag:
"See, if I get 'Aladdin ka Chirag' which has magical powers then I would ask all the educationalist to stop reciting the story of 'Aladdin ka Chirag'. People should be taught to work hard. The significance is of hard work and not laziness."
Expressing his curiosity, Akshay Kumar asked if the Prime Minister chills out, if he goes somewhere to chill, PM Modi said:
"I drink tea in morning at 5 PM, without sugar. In the evening 6 pm, tea is a requirement, a habit. But that should be under the sky and I must be all alone, then I feel very happy. Earlier, in my life, I didn't celebrate Diwali, for 5 days I used to go somewhere, in jungle where there is no people around, but pure water. Sometimes under a tree or somewhere I used to stay. I carried nothing, no radio, no pen paper, no book, TV was not there at that time. I called it "Mai Mujhse Milne Jata Hu" (I am going to meet myself). That gave me strength. Now I cannot do that. But that's how I relaxed."
On why he wears his watch backwards:
"I watch it backwards because I attend a lot of meeting. So, I don't want anyone to know that I am looking at the time. Otherwise, it is an insult to the person. When you look at your watch it is like an indication that you want the other person to leave. I am conscious that I maintain his respect", said PM Modi.
On being asked if the Prime Minister checks social media and keeps an eye on the memes:
"Yes I do check Twitter. I get so much information about the outside world through it. And I do see your Twitter as well and also of Twinkle Khanna, and she expresses her anger on me, so then your familial bonding might be in peace, because she expresses her anger at me. So you are at peace. I met Twinkle's grandfather once. Her Chinubhai I met him. There was drought in Gujarat. So we were running a camp in which we used to serve buttermilk to people. In that program,I met him."
Adding he said: "I do keep an eye on the meme but I am happy to see the creativity. One thing social media has done is that it has showed me the talent of the common people. Yes there are some people who do it deliberately to cause anger. But if you don't react they feel that all their hard work is wasted. You are at peace."
On how he controls his anger:
"People express surprise when they get to know that I never feel angry. Happiness and anger is part of life. Everyone experiences these emotions. During the crucial year of my life, the time I was 18-22 years, I received training in which I learnt that God has given us everything. It is up to us to decide how we can move forward by focusing on good. Things that bring negativity should be disposed. From being a Chaprasi to Principal Secretary, I never got a chance to express anger".
On if he watch films:
"In my village there was a theater, I had a friend Dasarath, his father used to sell chana outside the theatre. Villagers called him 'Laxman bhai theatre wala', he used to let our entry into the theater. So that would be a free entry on request and that is when I watched films. Later life proceeded in a different track, there was no time. But when I was a CM in Gujarat, Amitabh Bachchan came, he wanted me to watch his film PAA, so I went with him. Then, Anupam Kher ji, I watched his film Wednesday on terrorism with him. We went," the PM said.
When the Bollywood actor expressed that he is considered 'as a strict headmaster', PM Modi said:
"Being strict is different. I am strict and disciplined. I never insult anyone to get my work done but motivate that person. In this way, I am learning and teaching at the same time".
An anecdote with Mamata Banerjee:
"You will be amazed, Mamata Didi, even now, selects one-two kurtas and send to me each year. Also, sweets as well. I had spoken about Bengali sweets to Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina, during my visit, so, even now, she sends me new Bengali sweets especially from Dhaka three-four times in a year. Then after Mamata Didi came to know about it, she also sends Bengali sweets to me once a year," PM Modi said.
An anecdote with Ghulam Nabi Azad:
"I have many friends in the Opposition. this is an incident from the past, long ago, when I was not even the Chief Minister of Gujarat, I and Ghulam Nabi went to the Parliament. So when we came out media asked how can you be together and asked me how can I be friends with Ghulam Nabi because I am from RSS. So at that time Ghulam Nabi gave a good answer, he said the kind of familial bond we have, you cannot find it outside. Whatever you see from outside is not true. We are a family," Prime Minister said.
An anecdote with Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina:
"During my visit, I had Bengali sweets, so since then she sends me Bengali sweets right from Dhaka. And when Didi (Mamata Banerjee) came to know about it, she also sends me Bengali sweets twice a year, even thrice."
An anecdote with former President of USA Barack Obama:
“Whenever I meet Obama, he also asks me the same thing that how do I manage when I sleep for only three hours. He asks me why I do this. Every time he meets me, he asks me if I have started sleeping more or not.”