Before becoming the man who, in Washington Post's words, "rules Bombay the way (famous gangster) Al Capone ruled Chicago - through fear and intimidation", Bal Thackeray was a cartoonist with that once-famous paper, the Free Press Journal.
It was the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti movement in the 1950s that provided a launchpad for his political career.
In 1960, the launch of Bal Thackeray's own cartoon weekly Marmik helped him to forge his identity further. He used the weekly to attack the growing influence of non-Marathis in Mumbai.
Six years later, in 1966, came the Shiv Sena, created to protect the interests of the Marathi Manoos.
The party's campaign line was not just parochial, but downright vicious too.
South Indians were dismissed as Yanda Gundu and Lungiwaale. Thackeray would declaim "Lungi hatao pungi bajao".
Later, he would take on Biharis ("They (Biharis) are not wanted in southern India, Assam and also Punjab and Chandigarh. The Biharis have antagonised local population wherever they had settled") and Gujaratis too.
Not exactly rousing stuff, but then it helped him become Mumbai's godfather and ensured that his party would become so popular in India's Maximum City that it has gone on to rule the Mumbai municipality for the past 21 years.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena campaign also managed to ride to power in Maharashtra in 1995, ruling the state till 1999, a period during which Bal Thackeray was seen as holding the remote control of power.
Interestingly, despite being such a staunch politician, Thackeray has never stood in an election.
In Picture: Shiv Sena party members vow their full support in front of the portrait of Bal Thackeray on 20 July 2000, after the government gave orders to arrest and prosecute the Sena chief for the Mumbai communal riots of 1993.
Image copyright: AFP. Any unauthorised reproduction is prohibited