Bollywood actor and filmmaker Manoj Kumar, turned 78 today.651 views
If one talks of injecting a sense of national pride through cinema, one man’s name would immediately pop up in the mind. The man is Manoj Kumar, who because of dabbling in the genre of making films which pandered and catered to the nationalist sentiments was nick- named as Bharat Kumar.
For a man who emerged as poster-boy of spirit of nationalism in the black and white era when he made his debut, was a sensitive lover boy and was also a regular in the murder mysteries of the black and white era in the films like Bees Saal Baad, Woh Kaun Thi, Gumnaam etc. After Raj Kapoor, Manoj Kumar was the actor for whom Mukesh sang consistently.
Just as Dharmendra is macho and versatile, and Shashi Kapoor, suave and romantic, actor-director-writer Manoj Kumar is intense and full of ideas.
A look at some of his memorable films:
Woh Kaun Thi
Raj Khosla’s suspense thriller, Woh Kaun Thi, in 1964, set the trend of double roles for heroines. The story had an angle of mystery. Though conceived and written by Dhruv Chatterjee, the script was rewritten in many portions by Manoj, who never took any credit for it. Just as Sadhana shone in her double role dressed in white, Manoj scored with his subtle and underplayed portrayal. The expression on his face that’s full of unanswered questions in the scene where Sadhana leaves his car in the night is a lesson in acting.
The legend of Bhagat Singh was brought alive by Manoj in the 1965 classic, Shaheed. He was among the first set of writers to win a National Award for the film’s script for which he did a lot of research. Shot in natural and street lighting, the film looked convincing, right from the first scene. As Bhagat Singh, Manoj gave a lifetime’s performance. His greatest compliment came when Bhagat Singh’s mother saw her dead son alive in Manoj Kumar. The entire proceeds from the National Awards went to Bhagat Singh’s family.
Raj Khosla termed Manoj his half guru, half chela (disciple). After watching Deedar, Raj Khosla decided to make a film on the same lines with Manoj in the lead. So Do Badan was born with Manoj, Asha Parekh and Simi Garewal. A heart-wrenching tale of love and sacrifice, Do Badan was written to a large extent by Manoj himself. Just as the film revealed that Asha had an intense side to her, so also it showcased Manoj’s talent in the song sequences, especially in the number, ‘Naseeb Mein Jis Ke’.
The first film in colour, Upkar (1967) highlighted the plight of farmers and ushered the green revolution in Indian cinema. Manoj wrote and directed this saga that held out a lot of promise, something missing in his later films. His image as a farmer with a plough singing ‘Meri Desh Ki Dharti’ turned him into a cult figure.