MUMBAI: It is for special reason that the honour of ‘Bharat Bhushan’ has been credited with the name of Manoj Kumar. The actor, who is best known for his films on national and social movements, patriotic themes, rightly deserves the title. A true patriot, he has retired from the movies, but the icon and his films still stay alive in our hearts and memories.
On the eve of Manoj Kumar’s 76th birthday, here’s raising a toast to a wonderful actor that Indian cinema has seen. Sadly, the actor is currently at the Kokilaben Hospital in Mumbai recovering from a gall bladder infection. The actor is set to undergo a surgery on Wednesday. But neither his spirits are busted nor the love for his fans.
Manoj Kumar has always been an expressive yet restrained actor-director. Like his movies, even his speech silenced many. The famous incident, where Shah Rukh Khan took a dig at the actor with his trademark hand-covering-the -face style, almost landed Shah Rukh Khan and director Farah Khan in trouble. Manoj Kumar went to the extent of filing a lawsuit against the Shah Rukh Khan and Farah Khan. But once the star apologised, Manoj Kumar was generously gracious to forgive this bachcha.
Such has been the generosity of the star. Born in Abottabad, (now in Pakistan) as Harikrishna Giri Goswami, it was Dilip Kumar and his name in ‘Shabnam’ that inspired the actor to take the name Manoj Kumar.
His first break came in the form of ‘Kaanch Ki Gudiya’. But it was ‘Shaheed’ and his portrayal as Bhagat Singh in 1965 that a true patriot was born. Such a depth in the character as Bhagat Singh that even the then prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri asked Manoj Kumar to make a film on the life of farmers. Remember – ‘jai jawan jai kisan?’
However, it was ‘Upkar’ that marked Manoj Kumar’s debut as a director. He also acted in ‘Upkar’ and played both the soldier and the poor farmer. The film till date remains a favourite for television screenings on national holidays. And can one ever forget the beats of the dafli’s when ‘Mere Desh Ki Dharti’ is playing? That is our deshbhakt, Manoj Kumar.
Manoj Kumar has to be credited for bringing out the positive side of Pran in ‘Upkar’. Pran had played the bad man in earlier films, and with this new journey began their ever-lasting friendship.
From then it became a trend of sorts. If Manoj Kumar made a film it will have heavy shades of the tricolour. As long as it made audiences come alive with patriotism it meant striking gold. ‘Purab Aur Paschim’, ‘Roti Kapda Aur Makaan’ and ‘Kranti’ were the films where we saw the true patriot, the Bharat Bhushan.
‘Kranti’ was the last notable film with Manoj Kumar as a director. But the actor in him refused to die. He continued to act in films and proved his mettle with each film. Be it ‘Shor’, ‘Yalgaar’, ‘Do Badan’, ‘Dus Numbri’ or his cameo appearance with Simi Garewal in Raj Kapoor’s ‘Mera Naam Joker’. Manoj Kumar was fantastic and played his role with ease yet a sense of deep maturity.
‘Maidan-E-Jung’ in 1995 was his last film appearance. The film tanked but Manoj Kumar had already made his presence, relished the sweetness, tasted pain and reached the heights of greatness. Awardee of the Padma Shri by the Government of India, Manoj Kumar truly is a great legend that Indian cinema has seen.
Here’s wishing our true patriot, Bharat Bhushan, Manoj Kumar Happy Birthday! Get Well Soon!
There isn’t a better line to describe your persona –
“Kehet Kabir Suno Bhai Sadho…Baat Kahoon Main Khari..
Yeh Duniya Ek Numbari…Toh Main Dus Numbari”