INDIA.Mumbai: It’s a rare incident that we come across authentic biographies on Indian actors or anyone from the film fraternity for that matter. Bollywood enthusiasts are still eagerly waiting for those to be served on their plates.
The newly released biography of Sanjeev Kumar is titled The Actor We All Loved by Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta and the actor’s nephew Uday Jariwala. Tragically, it’s more about the various women this exceptional actor wanted to marry than his extensive body of work.
Although it is well known that Sanjeev Kumar wanted to marry Hema Malini and that singer-actress Sulakshana Pandit wanted to marry Sanjeev Kumar. The triangle was the talk of the town back then. However, the surprising dating information in the book about the actor, who died too young to clarify, is sticking with Shabana Azmi.
According to a woefully inadequately researched biography, Shabana Azmi was another colleague Sanjeev Kumar wanted to marry. Biographers even suggest that Shabana was quite fond of the actor and wanted to marry him as well. Things seem to have gone south as Sanjeev’s mother did not want her son to marry a Muslim girl.
Shabana Azmi dismisses this supposed alliance as “absolute nonsense”.
“There is not an iota of truth in that. Sanjeev and I are very compatible actors in Mahesh Bhatt’s Vishwasghat, Gulzar’s Namkeen and another film called Devta which Gulzar wrote but did not direct. Sanjeev and I spent hours discussing life and film. But there was no sign of any romantic involvement, let alone marriage. And where did this common angle come from?”
Shabana plans to take legal action against the “made-up melodrama” and its makers.
One wonders why the biography does not focus on the softer and chivalrous side of Sanjeev Kumar. The mannerisms he liked and the body language of the boy next door. Jaya Bachchan, who has done some of her best films (Koshish, Parichay and Anamika), remembers him for the respect and fatherly affection that Sanjeev showered on her.
Gulzar’s Mausam, which was a breakthrough for Sharmila Tagore, who won her first and only National Award for her performance as a hardcore sex worker, was initially offered to Jay Bachchan. Jaya was finalized for the role and then dropped from the film for Sanjeev Kumar.
Jaya even rehearsed her scenes for Mausam. She was very excited as it was a powerful role and her third film with Gulzar Saab and Sanjeev Kumar after Parichay and Koshish. It was Sanjeev Kumar who asked Jaya to withdraw from the project because of the sexual energy between the two characters.
Sanjeev, who was very close to Jaya, called her and said, “I would be very uncomfortable sharing such scenes with you. Either you stay in the project or I do. We can’t do the movie together.”
Unfortunately, Sanjeev Kumar died before he could find his life partner. But to make him sound like a womanizer is to do a disservice to his unique achievements.