Mumbaiís do-good auto driver to speak at TEDx next month

PRAJAKTA HEBBER

He is known as the the "king of Bandra" or "Munnabhai SSC" in his area. Sandeep Bachche, dressed in the unassuming dull brown uniform of an auto driver, tells us on a warm afternoon about his autorickshaw that draws curious stares, his hobbies and the source of his nick name. The 35-year-old, originally from Gargotwadi, Pune, tells us that he picked his own nickname after the watching the hit film Munnabhai MBBS. Taking the do-good spirit of the character that Dutt portrayed in the 2003 film, Bachche, who has been driving the autorickshaw in Mumbai for over 13 years, has equipped his ride with all possible luxuries and necessities. Be it a fresh stock of daily newspapers, latest magazines, or a phone for the benefit of the passenger, Bachche even updates the board fixed on the side of his rickshaw, with latest stock, gold and silver prices. He even offers a special discount for senior citizens, physically-challenged people, and newly-weds.

His spirit of public service has taken a new turn, as he has been invited to a latest edition of TEDx talks to be held early next year at Visakhapatnam. There, Bachche is going to speak on the subject, "Imagine, ideate, inspire", along with noted personalities such as owner of the telecom start-up MobME Vivek Francis, top wedding photographer Joseph Radhik and filmmaker Anand Gandhi, among others. "I'm glad that my work is being admired. I have always lived in poverty, and I am happy that my efforts to bring some joy into other's life is being appreciated," he says with a smile.

Bachche describes his family as being "the usual ó you know, hum do, humare do". He has a brother in Pune whom he visits often. But be it a Facebook fanpage or the curious and admiring glances that his auto draws, Bachche goes back home to his "missus" in a 75x75 ft rented room in Koliwada, after a long day's work. "I have received many awards and acclaim. But people, who admire my work, never ask me about my needs," he says.

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