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'I felt bad that my role was cut in Lagaan'

On the Shiv Sena ban on him

My film career was doing well when Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray put a ban on me in 1993 because I went to Pakistan. I wanted to see my old house, and needed material for my autobiography. When I was there, they invited me for a Pakistani Day function and I attended it. The next day, Bal Thackeray said, 'AK Hangal deshdrohi hai' in his newspaper, Samna.

My films were removed from theatres, in and around Maharashtra. My film posters were torn and my effigies were burnt. I recieved threatening calls.

I replied that I don't need a character certificate from anyone. I am a freedom fighter. Meetings were called in my support. But I was boycotted for two years. After that, things were fine again.

On one of his last films, Lagaan

I shot for Ashutosh Gowariker's Lagaan. But I fell in the bathroom and was in hospital for 30 days. My role was cut short, though they paid me the promised amount. They took care of my hospital bills too. Aamir Khan and his ex-wife Reena would visit me at the hospital; they respected me a lot. But I felt bad that my role was cut.

In the picture: Hangal in a still from Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy, where Ian Richardson played the late Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru

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