A tribute to Manoj ‘Bharat’ Kumar

Zafri Mudasser Nofil
The Dada Saheb Phalke award for Manoj Kumar is a tribute to the veteran actor-director who is best known for his films with patriotic themes and called by fans as “Bharat Kumar”. “Hariyali Aur Raasta”, “Woh Kaun Thi”, “Himalaya Ki God Mein”, “Do Badan”, “Upkaar”, “Patthar Ke Sanam”, “Neel Kamal”, “Purab Aur Paschim”, “Roti Kapda Aur Makaan” and “Kranti” are some of his memorable films.
The 78-year-old was selected for the 47th Phalke Award for 2015 for his outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema. A five-member jury of Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Salim Khan, Nitin Mukesh and Anup Jalota unanimously recommended Kumar for the prestigious award, named after father of Indian cinema Dhundiraj Govind Phalke aka Dadasaheb Phalke and introduced by the government in 1969.
The award consists of a Swarn Kamal (Golden Lotus), a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh and a shawl.
The award is given on the basis of recommendations of a committee of eminent personalities set up by the government for this purpose.
The actor was taking a nap when he got calls from Ashok Pandit and Madhur Bhandarkar who gave him the news. He could not believe his ears and thanked the government for rewarding his work “at last”.
“It is certainly one of the most prestigious awards we have. I am extremely satisfied with Zafri Mudasser Nofil is Principal News Coordinator with PTI whatever I have achieved in my life, and my family is extremely happy with this news,” he said. He also remembered his late parents saying without their noble teaching and guidance, he would have never reached the stage he is now. He also named V Shantaram, Raj Kapoor and Raj Khosla as his inspiration.
Born as Harikrishna Giri Goswami in July 1937 in Abbottabad in pre-Independent India, he was 10 when he shifted to Delhi. After graduating from Hindu College, University of Delhi, he decided to enter the film industry. He is believed to have adopted the name Manoj Kumar inspired by Dillip Kumar’s role of Manoj in “Shabnam”.
After making his debut in the film “Fashion” in 1957, Kumar got his first leading role in “Kaanch Ki Gudia” in 1960. His film “Do Badan” is remembered for many reasons including his performance, Raj Khosla’s direction, the outstanding musical score by Ravi and immortal songs by lyricist Shakeel Badayuni.
In the 1960s he also acted in romantic films like “Honeymoon”, “Apna Banake Dekho”, “Naqli Nawab”, “Paththar Ke Sanam”, “Sajan”, “Sawan Ki Ghata” and social films like “Shaadi”, “Grihasti”, “Apne Huwe Paraye”, “Pehchaan” and “Aadmi”.
His image as the patriotic hero started with the 1965 film “Shaheed”, based on the life of Bhagat Singh. After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri asked him to make a film based on the popular slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kissan’. The result was Kumar’s magnum opus and his directorial debut “Upkaar”. “Roti Kapda Aur Makaan” (1974) was a social commentary featuring an all-star cast including Zeenat Aman, Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan.
He shared great on-screen chemistry with actresses like Mala Sinha, Sadhana and Hema Malini. Kumar’s career started to decline after “Kranti”. He quit acting after his appearance in the 1995 film “Maidan-E-Jung” but returned as a director to launch son, Kunal Goswami, in the 1999 film “Jai Hind” which had a patriotic theme. The film, however, did not do well at the box office.
Kumar won a National Film Award for “Upkaar” and was honoured with the Padma Shri in 1992.
Earlier this month, he had said that he is currently working on his next directorial venture which would be based on Aryabhata, the famous mathematician from the classical age.
“I’m going to return as a director soon. I am working on a film on Aryabhata. It is an interesting story to tell viewers about his contribution. We have been working on the film for a very long time. Since three years we are working on script, as it is a difficult subject to deal with,” he had said.
Kumar was also in the news a few years ago when he had objected to a spoof on him in the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer “Om Shanti Om”.
In 2007, a Mumbai court ruled that the scene be deleted before the television premiere of the film that year. Sony Entertainment Television went ahead with the screening after deleting the offending scene.
The next year, a court asked the makers of the film to remove all the scenes that were found distasteful by the actor from all the prints as well as broadcast material forever.
Then in 2013, Kumar filed a lawsuit against Shah Rukh and producers Eros International seeking damages after “Om Shanti Om” was released in Japan with the offending scenes intact.
“The film was released in Japan without deleting those scenes. I had forgiven them twice but not this time. They have disrespected me. They also face contempt of court as the court had asked them to forever and from all prints and broadcast material, delete those scenes,” Kumar had said then.
Shah Rukh, however, blamed the film’s distributors for the legal row.
“I don’t know much about it as I have just come back. Very honestly, I had personally apologised to him then. My respect goes to all actors who are older and younger to me. Distributors have made a genuine mistake… old print was sent (to Japan).
“He (Kumar) has done a legal thing. He is welcome to do that. I don’t take it personal,” he had said.


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