Bengaluru: From inviting Anil Kumble to click pictures of cheetahs to discussions on having sports as school syllabus, from praising 'Kantara' to highlighting cinema as a soft power, from surprising a comedian with her popular gesture "Aiyyo" to talks regarding access to capital for start-ups, all were part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with noted personalities from various fields here.
Modi met with Kannada actors Yash and Rishab Shetty, and former cricketers Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad, along with some other noted personalities from various fields, including start-ups, here.
According to sources, the meeting took place over dinner hosted at the Raj Bhavan here on Sunday after Modi arrived in the evening to participate in the inauguration of 14th edition of Aero India.
Late actor Puneeth Rajkumar's wife Ashwini Puneeth Rajkumar, comedian Shraddha, popularly known as "Aiyyo Shraddha", cricketers Mayank Agarwal and Manish Pandey, and businessmen Tarun Mehta, co-founder and CEO of Ather Energy, and Nikhil Kamath, co-founder of Zerodha, were among others in attendance.
Modi told the actors that the film industries of the southern states have given a great boost to India's culture and identity through their work. He particularly appreciated how they have encouraged the participation of women, sources said.
The prime minister stressed the need to leverage the ITIs to provide courses related to films especially in areas needing technical expertise and also remembered late actor Puneeth Rajkumar during the interaction, the sources said.
He informed the sportspersons about the measures being taken by the central government to encourage sporting talents, including through the National Education Policy.
The discussion with the start-up world focused on how to further support it and nurture an innovation ecosystem in India, the sources added.
Karnataka is headed for Assembly elections in April-May, with the ruling BJP going all out to retain power in the state.
"It was wonderful and a great honour to meet the honourable Prime Minister. I had met him five years ago in Chhattisgarh in one of the events and post that this was the personal interaction that I have had, it was wonderful. He said we have got cheetahs now, you have to come and take pictures, photographs of cheetahs," former cricketer Kumble said.
The PM was said to be referring to cheetahs brought from Namibia to the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, to Kumble, who has interest in wildlife photography.
Another former cricketer Srinath, calling it an excellent meeting, said, "we discussed quite a few topics, one of the topics was obviously sports. It was nice to hear from the Prime Minister that it is important to have sports as a syllabus from the school itself, so it will be a subject and everybody should perceive sports. These kind of words are inspiring..."
The PM has a great vision towards Indian sports and also has depth of knowledge of what needs to be done to take it to the next level as well, he added.
Actor Rishab Shetty of 'Kantara" fame said, meeting PM, whom he considers as "Mahan Nayak" (great leader), was a dream come true.
"He (Modi) inquired about what is happening in Indian and Kannada industry and what is required for Kannada industry here . He also informed us about what can be done in the future. We spoke at length and he too heard us," he said.
Further stating that the PM inquired about 'Kantara' and the way it went global, Shetty said, "ours is a root (level) story, it's about our folklore, rituals, belief, Indian culture, for which he congratulated. I'm very happy. I was very happy listening, as he uttered the word Kantara many times."
Another leading Kannada actor Yash said, "I was impressed with the kind of knowledge he (PM) has about the minute details of the industries and possibilities of what we can do. He called it a soft power. He has a big vision for the industry, he was appreciative of our work, it was a wonderful experience and as always our Prime Minister was very inspiring."
According to sources, topics such as the Kannada language, culture, cinema, theatre, film industry, sports, sporting infrastructure, youth empowerment, talent and business opportunities among others came up for discussion.
Comedian Shraddha, popularly known as "Aiyyo Shraddha" said, it was a very wonderful warm chat with Modi, he told us how proud he was about the way the south Indian film industry has showcased the beauty and richness of our country.
"Meeting the Prime Minister of our country, how do you quickly put it in words? I'm still in a daze. He met me, and we shook hands. As I entered the room, he said Aiyyo, which is a prefix to my social media handle...the fact that he remembered it, my face and said Aiyyo...I did not expect him to say that," she said.
Equally inspired was Nikhil Kamath of Zerodha who said the details that PM remembers, his in-depth knowledge across industries is "incredible".
"...it was so very kind of him to take the amount of time he did with us. The reason we exist in many ways, many of us, is because of the stable environment that has been created in India, the access to capital, our messaging in the world which has allowed for start-ups like us to thrive," he noted.