In the early 1960s, a young and handsome student in Pune University harboured a secret ambition: to become a star in Bollywood. Over the years, the Bollywood dreams of Vilasrao Dagadoji Deshmukh crumbled although he resembled an upcoming star of those times, Shatrughan Sinha, and whose dialogue delivery he imitated to regale friends.
Instead, Deshmukh became a rising star in politics, starting with his native Latur district. The double graduate-cum-lawyer became one of the youngest sarpanches at age 29 in 1974.
He had to battle huge odds but there was no looking back after that. A Congress loyalist, he went on to become Maharashtra chief minister twice and union minister too.
"I have achieved all this despite powerful political opponents," Deshmukh once told this writer, naming Sharad Pawar, soon after he was sworn-in the second time as the Maharashtra chief minister in 2004.
The kind of hate-hate relationship Deshmukh-Pawar had all these years -- both ambitious Marathas, hailing from the backward Marathwada and the prosperous western Maharashtra respectively - is hardly a secret.
Winning all elections from 1980, barring in the 1995 assembly polls owing to suspected sabotage by party bigwigs, Deshmukh started his ministerial stint from 1982 and held all important portfolios.
Despite having been written off after his defeat in 1995, when the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance swept to power, Deshmukh made a sensational comeback in 1999 winning with the highest margin in the state.
When Sharad Pawar quit the Congress to form the Nationalist Congress Party, the party was desperate for a strong leader as the next chief minister. The mantle fell on Deshmukh who ruled Maharashtra from 1999 to 2003.
Even after he was moved to national politics as Congress general secretary, Deshmukh's heart beat only for his home state. The Latur-born wanted to move back to Mumbai.
The opportunity came in 2004 when he bounced back as chief minister. He held the reins till he resigned following the 2008 Mumbai terror attack by Pakistani terrorists.
It was as culture minister that Deshmukh acquired a love for the fine arts, music, dance, movies and drama, which remained his passion till the end.
He was once asked why so many Bollywood personalities crowded his office and residence. Deshmukh replied: "Most of them want land somewhere or the other. If their case is genuine, the government considers it."