Bollywood superstar Salman Khan is set to conquer again with his upcoming Eid bonanza BHARAT, which is making all the right noise. Before watching the movie on 5th June 2019, let’s remember our first ‘Bharat’.
Born in Abbottabad, a town in the North-West Frontier Province, now in Pakistan, Harikishan Giri Goswami aka Manoj Kumar urf Bharat stayed as a refugee in Delhi when he was around 10 after the Partition. A fascination towards one of India’s most influential freedom fighter Bhagat Singh took seed when a friend Surinder Chawla, narrated the story of the legend to the young Harikishan Giri Goswami (Manoj Kumar). The enthusiasm of the kid resulted in a stage play on Shaheed Bhagat Singh in which the young Manoj Kumar managed that trademark Bhagat Singh hat but stage fear ruined the child’s dream but the passion to act one day and respect for Bhagat Singh and motherland – India remained intact.
After graduating from Hindu College, University of Delhi, Manoj Kumar who idolized Dilip Kumar, Ashok Kumar decided to name himself after a character played by the thespian Dilip Kumar in SHABNAM (1949).
Recognition for Manoj Kumar as a ‘chocolate hero’ started taking baby steps with KAANCH KI GUDIA (1960), RESHMI ROOMAL etc. making way for Manoj Kumar’s first shot to fame - HARIYALI AUR RAASTA (1962) opposite Mala Sinha. Then came Raj Khosla’s immortal classic WOH KAUN THI with Sadhana.
However, the guilt of childhood where he couldn’t play his first idol Bhagat Singh haunted him and the Padma Shri and Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner has been reportedly quoted saying, “I was so nervous. I just ran away. This really pricked my conscience. I knew that I hadn't done justice to our national hero."
Manoj Kumar shared the idea with his film PRO friend Kewal Kashyap and rest is history SHAHEED (1965) movie based on Bhagat Singh's life started breathing. Produced by Kewal Kashyap and directed by S. Ram Sharma starring Manoj Kumar as Bhagat Singh, Prem Chopra as Sukhdev, Anant Marathe as Rajguru and Kamini Kaushal as Vidyavati (Bhagat Singh's Mother). SHAHEED – one of the most prominent Indian patriotic classics based on the Indian independence movement, spearheaded Manoj Kumar's series of patriotic films and his remarkable journey as ‘Bharat’ that consolidated with UPKAR, PURAB AUR PASCHIM, ROTI KAPADA AUR MAKAAN, etc.
The biggest compliment for SHAHEED that Manoj Kumar aka Bharat received was from Bhagat Singh’s real mother who reportedly took medication on request from Manoj Kumar, the great Indian mother saw the glimpse of his son Bhagat Singh in actor Manoj Kumar.
Manoj Kumar took Bhagat Singh’s real mother at the 13 National Award functions where SHAHEED won the award for Best Feature Film in Hindi, the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration and the award for Best Screenplay for B K Dutt and Din Dayal Sharma. India’s ex-Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi gave Bhagat Singh’s mother a standing ovation.
SHAHEED laid the foundation for Manoj Kumar as Bharat, Manoj Kumar did suspense thrillers before SHAHEED – GUMNAM, WOH KAUN THI and action like 10 NUMBERI later but the tag of deshbhakt Bharat remained intact.
Today Bollywood’s Khiladi Kumar the super fit action star Akshay Kumar has gracefully transformed into the silver screen icon of patriotism, Manoj Kumar is elated that superstars like Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan are carrying forward his legacy with his kind of cinema that can change the society and keep on respecting Indian values.
This is the story behind Indian cinema’s Bharat – Manoj Kumar the pioneer who sowed those patriotic seeds on screen.
Salman Khan’s BHARAT is believed to be on those lines. The Ali Abbas Zafar directorial based on the 2014 South Korean game changer ODE TO MY FATHER, traces India's post-independence history from the perspective of a common man and follows his life from the age of 18 to 70 co-starring Katrina Kaif, Tabu, Disha Patani, and Jackie Shroff.
Will BHARAT be able to do what SHAHEED did to Manoj Kumar? Manoj Kumar believes that Salman and Akshay are the ‘Naya Bharat’.
Akshay has achieved the tag; will the DABANGG Khan Salman Khan achieve the feat as one of the most patriotic Indian on screen? Only time will tell. It must be remembered that during the late 1970s, Manoj Kumar wanted to make a movie titled ‘Naya Bharat’ featuring him with Rajesh Khanna. Today, ‘Bharat’ feels “Naya Bharat” can be made with Salman and Akshay.