Sanjeev Kumar continues to be an enigma. The Surat-born legendary actor and his choice of films, even today, can be studied for one to understand how performances and brilliant storylines can create history. Perhaps millennials remember him from Sholay, that film which makes their parents hark back to their younger selves, an age that they say was Golden. But films like Aandhi and Seeta Aur Geeta reveal a completely new side to him that undoubtedly made him a cut above the rest. On Saturday, his nephew Uday Jariwala and Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta released his biography titled Sanjeev Kumar, the Actor We All Loved.
“I conceptualised the book in 2018, simply because I was shocked to know that no one had made a book about him before,” reveals Ramamurthy, adding: “Finally, when I saw Shatranj Ke Khiladi- my mind was made up. I had to write this book- the film features on Martin Scorsese’s list of 40 films you must watch before you die.” She recollects her father humming his songs when she was a child. “My father used to keep singing ‘thande thande pani se nahaana chahiye’ – that is embedded memory. It was much later that I registered that the song was picturised on Sanjeev Kumar.”
For Jariwala, this project was an attempt to get the real Sanjeev Kumar out from the rumour mills and bring the human side of him to the reader. “I just wanted that people should know what kind of person he was in real-life. There are a lot of gossips, rumours about him, I wanted people to know who Sanjeev Kumar was in reality. He is a superstar, he was very down to earth and very simple in life. He never had any hangups or such. Be in the house, be at shooting, specially outdoor shooting was pretty much his routine,” he says.
Anil Kapoor, who launched the book, recounts heading to a theatre to watch Sunghursh. “The film starred the great Dilip Kumar Sahab. By the time I came out, I was thinking ‘who was this other actor in the film?’ I then came to know it was Sanjeev Kumar sahib. I have been a fan of his ever since. I have watched all his films.”
Jariwala says rarely a day goes by when he does not think of Sanjeev Kumar. “I remember him every day. We have a lot of fond memories of him. The most cherished one I remember was him taking us to see Charlie Chaplin or children based movies that used to come out. He used to take his time out from work to take us there. He used to take us for drives without any drivers, staff etc.”
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