Madhur Bhandarkar
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Bollywood mourns the loss of APJ Abdul Kalam

Madhur Bhandarkar

By HT

Mumbai, July 29 -- Gulshan Grover, who played the role of a dhaba owner in the film, I Am Kalam, recalled the time when he was invited to meet the former President, along with the film's cast.

"The only thing that struck me about him when I met him was his love for kids. He constantly encouraged kids to follow their dreams," says the Bollywood actor, adding, "He will always be the example of someone who achieved what he wanted to do. Despite his financial problems, he completed his education and became such an important scientist." - Gulshan Grover, actor

Film producer Pritish Nandy, whose book on poetry was launched by APJ Abdul Kalam in Kolkata, a few years ago, says that the former Indian President was more interested in the "simpler joys of life". "There was something bigger about Dr Kalam than him being a nuclear scientist and the President of our country. It was the fact that he was more interested in enjoying the simple things life had to offer, and he loved telling people about the same. He loved poetry and music. He always dreamt about eradicating poverty, and more people connecting with each other," he says. - Pritish Nandy, film producer

Veteran Bollywood actor Anupam Kher received the Padma Shri from APJ Abdul Kalam in 2004. "As I was accepting the award, he said to me in my ear, 'I am a huge fan of yours.' I was so surprised. I never thought that a man who was so much into science would enjoy films," says the National Award-winning actor, adding, "I met him a few times after that encounter as well. He had this amazing ability to be himself. I think, in many ways, he was like Swami Vivekananda. His name could not be associated with any religion, but only with the religion of humanity." - Anupam Kher, actor

Film-maker Madhur Bhandarkar had a rather candid conversation with APJ Abdul Kalam when he went to accept the National Award for his film, Traffic Signal (2007). "He remembered giving the National Award to me for Page 3 (2005). I told him, 'Sir, I will complete a hat-trick of National Awards with you, and he just looked at me and smiled. He was such a simple man, with a happy-go lucky nature. Even after the tenure, he travelled alone and spoke to people and students and encouraged them. This is a big loss for humanity." - Madhur Bhandarkar, film-maker.