Nilu Phule's voyage from gardens to 'villain'

"Phule worked as a gardener in the B J Medical College when I was studying medicine there years ago. Afterwards, I went abroad and by the time I returned home, he had become a great actor with exceptional talent and versatility," Lagoo said paying tributes to Phule.

The legendary "gentleman" villain of Marathi cinema passed away on Monday at the age of 79.

Phule was a born actor, who was also "alive to social causes", Lagoo said.

Phule, who was born in 'Mali' (gardener) community, took pride in saying that he had worked as gardener for as many as 11 years before he entered filmdom, he said.

Phule, who was also a member of socialist 'Rashtra Seva Dal' had once said in an interview, "I was taught dignity of labour in my childhood spent in stark poverty. Tending flowers and saplings gave me the joy of creativity in the presence of nature which I cherished throughout my life."

The sprawling garden lawns of the prestigious Armed Forces Medical College here also was the creation of Phule, who became one of the most celebrated actors of Marathi films and theatre.

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