Published On: Sat, Jul 9th, 2016

Remembering the versatile Sanjeev Kumar, on his 78th birth anniversary today.


Remembering Sanjeev Kumar, Bollywood’s legendary versatile actor, on his 78th birth anniversary today.

Sanjeev Kumar in a still from the movie 'Ek Paheli' (1971)

Sanjeev Kumar in a still from the movie ‘Ek Paheli’ (1971)

An actor par excellence, who could essay any character with consummate ease and deliver a flawless performance, Sanjeev Kumar’s name is indelibly etched in the hearts of cineastes and the annals of Indian cinema as one of the greatest actors ever.

He broke all the rules of stardom and yet was a star, a romantic hero and an all-rounder par excellence. He did not have the handsomness of Dharmendra, the charisma of Rajesh Khanna or the physique of Amitabh Bachchan, but Sanjeev Kumar will always be remembered for his versitality. From `Thakur` in blockbuster film `Sholay` to a deaf and dumb character in `Koshish`, the actor did it all, and that too with a lot of ease.

47 was no age for one of Hindi cinema’s brightest talents to go, but on November 6, 1985, Sanjeev Kumar passed away, leaving fans, friends and the Hindi film shell-shocked. Sanjeev Kumar died young but famous.

Sanjeev Kumar was undoubtedly one of the most versatile actors Indian cinema has ever seen.

He still continues to regale audiences with his vast range of memorable performances which showcase an actor of great caliber. And he continues to live in the hearts of moviegoers forever through his great performances.

Remembering the versatile Sanjeev Kumar, on his 78th birth anniversary today.

Truth is greater than Love

Satyakam (1969)

A classic film in its own right for Rajinder Singh Bedi’s profound dialogue, Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s deft direction and Dharmendra’s sterling performance before he got caught in the web of the ‘he man’ image. The weak points — mediocre lyrics and lacklustre music.

The film opens with Sanjeev Kumar’s voiceover describing the plight of the mythical Satyakamjabala who takes on his mother’s name because of his questionable fatherhood. While the drama begins in 1946, the narrative actually takes place in post-Independence India.

When Satyapriya’s (Dharmendra) mother dies in childbirth, and his father becomes a sanyasi, he is raised in an ashram by his grandfather, Satyadarshan Acharya (Ashok Kumar), a staunch nationalist and a Sanskrit scholar.

While studying Engineering he befriends class-fellow Narendra Sharma (Sanjeev Kumar) but they part ways at the end of their studies. Satyapriya finds a job in United Paper Mill in a princely state soon after Independence, but is disillusioned when repeatedly asked to compromise his ideals.

While struggling between his ideals and conscience he meets Ranjana (Sharmila Tagore), daughter of a prostitute, who is pregnant after a criminal assault. Satyapriya marries the hapless girl, and soon a son, Kabul (Baby Sarika) is born.

‘Making adjustments’

Remembering the versatile Sanjeev Kumar, on his 78th birth anniversary today.Satyapriya’s uncompromising stance and his grandfather’s refusal to accept his family compels him to move from one town to another, from one job to another because of his unwillingness to compromise his honesty. Destiny lands him a job where he has to work under Narendra’s supervision. Unlike Satyapriya, Narendra has learnt the hard way that to succeed and survive one has to make adjustments.

The guilt of failure, more than compromise, becomes Satyapriya’s driving force of life until he succumbs to cancer. Coupled also with the guilt that he had failed to be Ranjana’s saviour, because even though he had married her, he hadn’t got over the fact of her victimisation. He tries to redeem himself, in the dying moments of the film, by signing a sanction letter.

Directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee for producer Sher Jung Singh Punchhe, from a story by Narayan Sanyal with screenplay by Bimal Dutta, the film had lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal (only three songs, “Abhi kya sunoge”, “Do din ki zindagi” (Lata solos) and the Kishore, Mahendra Kapoor duet “Zindagi hai kya bolo”) and cinematography by Jayant Pathare.

Remembering the versatile Sanjeev Kumar, on his 78th birth anniversary today.The 175-minute saga ends with the arrival of Satyadarshan, who shedding his prejudices takes the widow and her child in his fold as they take long strides towards the ashram. But not before the touching scene where Kabul asks Ranjana why he cannot perform the last rites of his father, and she reveals the truth about his illegitimacy.

Among the highlights of the film are the scenes between Naren and Sat, made more profound by Bedi’s tongue-in-cheek dialogue (an important component of the film), because Dharmendra has an unnaturally restrained performance which came naturally to Sanjeev as his later evolution as an actor shows. The expressions of the younger actor (Sanjeev had just done about 10-12 films with limited exposure), especially when he reacts to Dharmendra’s dialogue “Compromise hi corruption ka doosra naam hai”, stood out.

For his dialogue, Rajinder Singh Bedi got the Filmfare Award in 1971.

(Courtesy: ‘Satyakam’ movie review by Shri.Suresh Kohli

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology