Sanjeev Kumar: There was talk of miserliness of an unmatched artist
but the people of the industry digested their lakhs of rupees
On November 6, 1985, Sanjeev Kumar said goodbye to the world at the age of 47.
By then he had given 25 years to the cinematic world. His journey of 25 years was no less than a Bollywood superhit masala film.
In this, whether it has been a range of acting that continues to surprise the audience, whether it has been a box office blockbuster or it has been accompanied by beautiful sweethearts, Sanjeev Kumar was no less than a superstar.
He was always surrounded by people due to stardom and drinking pastime, but in the last months of life, Sanjeev Kumar lived in extreme isolation and struggled with his illness alone.
It can also be said that even in the journey of life, as an artist, Sanjeev Kumar was always seen giving exams. Father’s death at a very young age, after that mother’s struggle to run the family, attachment to theatre, family responsibility and struggle to get work in films, that is, Sanjeev Kumar always struggled. Despite all this, the smile on his face always remained and this charming smile was an important contribution to his special style of acting.
Starting with B grade films, he had achieved that stardom on the basis of mere acting, due to which he started charging the highest wages even in multi-starrer films.
Sanjeev Kumar did not get this success by any setback. He achieved it step by step. Absolutely on his own. In this, the training of acting with him from his childhood was a big contribution.
To get this training, Sanjeev Kumar’s mother had mortgaged her jewelry, then the fees of Shashadhar Mukherjee’s acting school could be deposited. His mother wanted the son to become a doctor or lawyer by writing, but after seeing Sanjeev Kumar’s mind in acting, she took this decision.
The interesting story of Sanjeev Kumar’s struggle also includes the story of his name. In fact, before finding work in Hindi films, he started working in the world of theater under the name of Harihar Jethalal.
While working in IPTA plays, AK Hangal gave Sanjeev Kumar the role of a sixty-year-old in the popular play Damru. At the age of just 19, Sanjeev Kumar had stunned people by playing this character.
- How did Sanjeev Kumar get his name?
Harihar Jethalal Jariwala got his first chance in the 1960 film Hum Hindustani in search of work in Hindi films. In this film of Sunil Dutt and Asha Parekh, the role of Sanjeev Kumar was just a two-second close-up.
After this he started making rounds of producer directors and studios. Meanwhile, while interacting with his friends from the theatre, Harihar Jethalal said that he would have to find his screen name. Sanjeev Kumar’s mother’s name was Shantaben Jariwala.
He told his friends that he would keep the name from S and seeing the effect of the success of Dilip Kumar and Ashok Kumar at that time, he decided to keep the title Kumar. Also decided the name – Sanjay Kumar.
The second Hindi film of Sanjeev Kumar’s career ‘Aao Pyaar Karein’ was released in 1964 and his credit went to Sanjay Kumar. After this film, Kamal Amrohi signed him for the Shankar Hussain film (which Kamal could not make) and said that this name is not very impressive.
Kamal Amrohi named Sanjeev as Gautam Rajvansh. However, Kamal was so engrossed in the work of Pakeezah that he did not complete the film after a few shots. From this point of view, even the name Gautam Rajvansh did not suit Sanjeev Kumar.
Meanwhile, in 1964, the film Dosti became a super hit and Sanjay Khan was established with this film. In such a situation, it would not be beneficial to do a film under the name Sanjay Kumar in the presence of a Sanjay Khan, thinking that Harihar Jethalal again after thinking with his friends named Sanjeev Kumar.
Under the name of Sanjeev Kumar, he first appeared in the 1965 film Nishan, which was a kind of stunt film. By doing such films in the initial days, he got less profit and more loss.
- First complete biography came 36 years after death
This story of naming is mentioned in the recently published book on Sanjeev Kumar by Hanif Zaveri and Sumant Batra. ‘An Actor’s Actor’ published by Penguin Publications is being called the official biography of Sanjeev Kumar. For 36 years after his death, there was no book narrating the life journey of Sanjeev Kumar. This gap has been filled to a large extent by Hanif Zaveri and Sumant Batra’s book.
In the 1968 film Sangharsh, Sanjeev Kumar earned his coin by acting in front of Dilip Kumar, that continued till the time of his death, i.e. for the next 17 years. During this, Sanjeev Kumar not only gave successful films at the box office, but also worked in such films out of the box which were films ahead of his era.
The character facing mental illness in Toy, released in 1970, put him on the sky of fame and success. Two years later, in 1972’s attempt, he acted magic with his eyes without speaking.
- Did all kinds of movies and roles
But as an actor, Sanjeev Kumar never repeated himself, nor was he typed by any image. He came to be called an all season actor. He did not care at all about his image, it can be gauged from the fact that he was playing the role of Jaya Bhaduri’s lover in Anamika at the same time and at the same time he was playing the role of her father in the introduction. In Sholay, he played the role of Jaya Bhaduri’s father-in-law.
On the one hand, he continued to win the hearts of people with his acting in multi-starrer films like Sholay and Trishul, while on the other hand he continued to surprise people through experimental films. In 1974, in Naya Din, Nayi Raat, he surprised people by playing nine types of characters.
So in 1977 he accepted to work with Satyajit Rai in a chess player for very little money. In 1978, he gave a superhit film as Pati, Patni Aur Woh, and in 1982 he gave an unmatched comic film like Angoor.
Between 1960 and 1985, Sanjeev Kumar acted in 153 films. It won the National Award for Dastak and Prayas. It is not easy to reach here by working in B-grade films, but Sanjeev Kumar has achieved this position.
- From love failure to alcohol addiction
In this journey, Sanjeev Kumar also had an affair with married Nutan and Hema Malini, but the matter got stuck in both the cases. After this, his relationship with some other actresses including Sulakshana Pandit was also discussed. But Sanjeev Kumar did not marry. To overcome the failure or loneliness in love relationships, Sanjeev Kumar drowned himself in alcohol.
Sanjeev Kumar was suffering from heart related diseases since childhood and alcohol intoxication only aggravated his disease. At the age of 37, he had a heart attack for the first time in the shining phase of his career. But he did not make any changes in his lifestyle.
He had to bear the brunt of this and soon he also got another attack. After this Sanjeev Kumar went to America and got his open heart surgery done.
He was expected to make a full recovery when he returned from America, but the urges of cinematographers to return to work and his own insistence on completing stuck projects did not give him a rest.
On the death of Sanjeev Kumar on November 6, 1985, his friend and fellow artist Dinesh Hingu told Hanif Zaveri, “If he had married, he would have lived longer. He did not know how to rest. Even after bypass surgery He continued to work. The filmmakers are responsible for his death.”
- left the world on mother’s death anniversary
However, every year on November 6, Sanjeev Kumar used to drown in the memories of his mother. His mother died on November 6, 1980, and after that he lived for only five years, coping with illness and continuing to act in films.
There was a lot of discussion about this period of Sanjeev Kumar, including his alcohol addiction as well as being stingy and not trusting female friends. One of the reasons for the talk of skimping must have been that Sanjeev Kumar used to wear very ordinary clothes and did not spend much on clothes like ordinary film stars.
However, his close friends made him realize that if anyone is similar to him, then one reason for this is his money. Sanjeev Kumar had taken a little faith on this and in the last years of his life, he did not open early with others.
By the way, from the book of Hanif Zaveri and Sumant Batra, there is not much truth in these two things. Many actresses who worked with Sanjeev Kumar from Hanif Zaveri have described Sanjeev Kumar as their best friend.
- The man who saved Shatrughan Sinha and Amitabh’s marriage
Sanjeev Kumar may not have settled his family, but he was fully aware of the importance of family, so not only did he help his family members but also saved the ruined homes of others.
When Shatrughan Sinha’s tension with his wife Poonam Sinha had increased a lot, Sanjeev Kumar was instrumental in resolving it, which Shatrughan Sinha has also been mentioning. This is the reason why Shatrughan Sinha remained his best friend for life. And when Sanjeev Kumar died, Shatrughan Sinha sat near his body for 48 hours.
His last rites took place only after Sanjeev Kumar’s sister came from America. After the news of his death, there was no work of any kind in the film industry in Mumbai the next day. All the shooting of Sari was cancelled.
- Gulzar also considered him as his special friend.
Recently, a book based on Gulzar’s memoirs has come out from Penguin Publications, ‘Actually I Met Them, A Memoir’. It also has a chapter on Sanjeev Kumar. Gulzar has also remembered his friend as his friend instead of a star.
Gulzar and Sanjeev Kumar used to get along very well with each other. The pair gave excellent films like Mausam, Aandhi and Namkeen after their collaboration that started with the film Parichay. Gulzar has also written that after the death of Sanjeev Kumar, Shatrughan Sinha sat there for 48 hours with zero feeling. Gulzar has also said that due to the death of Sanjeev Kumar, his mind was disturbed from making the film.
It has also been told in the book by Hanif Zaveri and Sumant Batra that when the tension between Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri also increased in mutual relations, Sanjeev Kumar played an important role in reconciliation and Jaya Bachchan considered him as her brother.
Unlike Sanjeev Kumar’s miserliness, many well-known producers and actors from Hanif Zaveri have accepted the fact of taking money from Sanjeev Kumar without accounting. Hanif Zaveri has written that after the death of Sanjeev Kumar, Boney Kapoor went to return the money to his family members, while the family members did not even know that Boney had taken money from Sanjeev Kumar.
Sanjeev Kumar’s secretary Jamnadas then opened the diary and told the family that Rs 94,36,000 was borrowed from Sanjeev Kumar by his friends, actors and producer directors. This amount is not less even today, but you can imagine how big this amount would have been in 1985. Then money in banks used to double in five years, although in the present time it takes more than eight years and according to this also you add, in today’s date this money would have been between 90 to 100 crores.
When the family members of Sanjeev Kumar tried to get the money back from these people, no one returned the money. The family went to Sunil Dutt to get the money back from his efforts. Sunil Dutt had a lot of reputation in the industry, but he knew the way of the industry better, so he told the family members that I will try my best but there is little hope of getting the money back. That list is still present with the family members of Sanjeev Kumar.
It mentions all the small and big things related to the life of Sanjeev Kumar, how Sanjeev Kumar used to be very comfortable about his dress and used to threaten to go to any fellow artist’s house at night to eat non-vegetarian food.
In the first line of his memoir on Sanjeev Kumar, Gulzar has also described him as a fan of non-veg food, which was always ready to eat outside.
- accustomed to arriving late on the set
There were no film star tantrums in Sanjeev Kumar. But he usually used to reach late on the sets for shooting. The only reason for this was that he used to drink alcohol till morning.
Despite his lateness, the director and the co-stars were not very angry, as Sanjeev Kumar was known to do his shots in just one take and the entire film industry knew what other actors do in eight hours. Sanjeev Kumar will do it in just four hours. Apart from this, his sense of humor was so great that fellow actors could not live without laughing at his words. Therefore, the tension that used to build up before his arrival on the set, used to be touching as soon as Sanjeev Kumar reached.
Hanif Zaveri had closely observed Sanjeev Kumar as a journalist, had done many interviews with him and claimed that Bollywood’s acting king Dilip Kumar advised him to write a book on Sanjeev Kumar, when he started collecting material, he was asked to write a book on Sanjeev Kumar. Another fan of Sumant Batra was found out and then both of them together prepared a book which gives complete details of Sanjeev Kumar’s life.
Hanif Zaveri says, “Work on this book started from 2009. Then it did not work for five years. The Jariwala family had its own reasons. But after that I interviewed about 150 people who knew Sanjeev Kumar. No matter how much time it took, but we have prepared a complete book.