Veteran film actor and director Manoj Kumar, who was conferred the 47th Dadasaheb Phalke Award at the 63rd National Film Awards earlier this year, is planning a comeback.
The 79-year-old, known for featuring in films with patriotic themes, told IANS in an interview: “I have decided to make films. I don’t know if it will be in sync with today’s style of filmmaking, but I will try. I compose my own shots, so I hope I will be able to do it. I would say this is just the beginning.”
The actor, whose last big-screen appearance was in the 1995 film “Maidan-E-Jung”, is excited to be part of the upcoming International Film Festival of India (IFFI).
He said: “I have never made films for awards. I made films from my heart for my country. I feel expectation leads to disappointment; so you should not expect anything and only work harder towards your goal. I am looking forward to be part of IFFI… which will be featuring five films of mine and I am thrilled to be part of this festival. It’s an emotional moment for me.”
Manoj Kumar’s films “Shaheed”, “Shor”, “Kranti”, “Purab Aur Paschim” and “Gumnaam” will be screened at the 47th IFFI that will be held from November 20 to 28 in Goa.
The veteran who has seen the high and low of the world of Indian cinema says the film industry has changed a lot since his time.
“I have spent so many years in this industry, but one thing that I have noticed is, earlier the industry was like a family, now it’s not the same any more. Unfortunately, it’s not the same atmosphere and that is very disappointing,” he said.
Born in July 1937, in Abbottabad, now in Pakistan, Manoj Kumar shifted to Delhi when he was 10. After graduating from Hindu College, University of Delhi, he decided to enter the film industry.
After debuting with “Fashion”, he got his first lead role in “Kaanch Ki Gudia” in 1960. And his image as the patriotic hero started with the 1965 film “Shaheed”, based on the life of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.
After the India-Pakistan War of 1965, then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri asked him to create a film based on the popular slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kissan”. The result was Manoj Kumar’s magnum opus and his directorial debut, “Upkar” (1967).
The film won him the National Film Award, and it was also the first time that he took on the screen name Bharat — which he used in multiple films thereafter.
“I have seen partition and I have watched my father, despite losing everything… his patriotism, his nationalism, his human values were intact. I am who I am today by watching my father; I was not taught patriotism in school or colleges,” he said.
Having starred in films like “Hariyali Aur Rasta”, “Woh Kaun Thi'”, “Himalay Ki God Mein” and “Kranti”, the National Award winner and Padma Shri awardee has also directed several films, including “Roti Kapada Aur Makaan”.
Commenting on the debate on whether Pakistani talent should be allowed to work in India or not, the legendary actor said: “We also had problems releasing our films then. If government allows (one) to work with Pakistani actors then it’s fine, or else I will not work.”
“One thing Fawad Khan has not done is to condemn terrorism. There is no question of condemning his country, but he could have easily condemned terrorists which he has not done, and that’s sad,” he said.
The cine icon feels he has a lot to achieve in life and this is just the beginning.
“I remember a magazine had quoted me saying about the boy who refused to look back and that’s exactly me… I don’t look back… I have decided to make films. I don’t know if it will be in sync with today’s style of filmmaking, but I will try. I compose my own shots; so I hope I will be able to do it. I would say this is just the beginning,” he said.
(Uma Ramasubramanian can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
By Uma Ramasubramanian