Fragrance of Yesteryears: Sanjeev Kumar

BollyCurry is back once again, bringing to you yet another star from times bygone in our Fragrance of Yesteryears series.

Monday, December 16, 2013 | 9:25:23 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
 8 Comments | Copyright: BollyCurry

BollyCurry is back once again, bringing to you yet another star from times bygone in our Fragrance of Yesteryears series. This time round, we feature the versatile actor Sanjeev Kumar. Most known for his role as the strong Thakur in Sholay (1975), he has appeared in over a hundred films in a variety of roles!

Kumar was born on July 9th, 1938 as the eldest son of a Gujarati Jain family in Surat, who later moved to Mumbai. He started his acting career as a theatre actor with the Indian People's Theatre Association in Mumbai. He then moved onto doing stage work with the Indian National Theatre and appeared in low budget Bollywood movies. Kumar received his big break when he was spotted by renowned filmmaker Gulzar during his portrayal of a sixty year old man in a play. Gulzar was so impressed with Kumar's flawless execution of an old man, despite being only twenty-two years old himself, that he cast Kumar in numerous roles of older men in movies such as Aandhi (1975) and Mausum (1975). Gulzar and Kumar worked in a total of nine movies together over the course of Kumar's career, including Koshish (1973) where Kumar gave a stellar performance as a deaf and mute individual and even went on to win the BFJA Best Actor award for his performance.

From the moment he entered the movie industry, Kumar was an actor who could not be easily typecast into a particular genre, owing to his wide variety of movies. Some of his work included character driven roles such as Dastak (1970), Sholay (1975), Shatranj Ke Khilad (1977), Trishul (1978) and Vidhata (1982). He was also known for his impeccable comic timing, which can be exemplified in movies like Seeta Aur Geeta (1972), Pati, Patni Aur Woh (1978)and Angoor (1981) to name a few. Kumar was well liked amongst the film fraternity and had a reputation of being a simple man who had a distinct style of working. He gave everything to his work and was known to rarely ever give retakes during his shots. His wonderful performances earned him two National Film Best Actor awards for his role in Dastak (1970) and Koshish (1973). He also has two Filmfare awards for Best Actor and one Filmfare award for Best Supporting Actor to his credit.

Unfortunately, Kumar inherited a congenital heart condition which lead to his early death on November 6th, 1985 at the mere age of forty-seven. Despite having previously undergone heart surgery in the US, Kumar succumbed to his disease in the form of a massive heart attack. Numerous other members of his family also died before the age of fifty due to this condition, including two of his brothers. Despite his early death, Kumar's legacy continues to remain alive in the form of amazing roles in some classic movies.

Did you know?
  • Kumar's real name is Harihar Jethalal Zariwala
  • He used to sleep in a kitchen as a child and this is thought to be the root of his love for food.
  • Kumar never married because he fell in love with co-actress Hema Malini, but she never reciprocated his feelings.
  • It is rumored that actress Sulakshana Pandit, one of the sisters of the popular composers Jatin-Lalit, was in love with Sanjeev and became mentally unstable when he turned her down.
  • To honor his legacy, the Indian Postal Service released a stamp with his face earlier this year in May.

Author: Gunia M.
Editor(s): Ritchelle C. and Jenifer Y.
Graphics: Shikha A.

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Posted on: 17 December 2013 at 12:52am
A truly versatile, brilliant actor that graced the silver screen. I loved his performance in Khilona, Maanchali, all the movies with Jaya Badhuri ji and in Naya Din Nayi Raat where he portrayed 9 characters.

Edited on:17 December 2013 at 12:52am

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Posted on: 16 December 2013 at 7:38pm
One of the best and most versatile actors of Indian cinema!

Edited on:16 December 2013 at 7:38pm

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Posted on: 16 December 2013 at 5:46pm
Remarkable actor.. natural .. could do Healthy comic and serious roles both at great ease.. I feel in today's time... Boman Irani is doing similar jobs ..

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Posted on: 16 December 2013 at 3:32pm
the most complete actor which India ever had

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Posted on: 16 December 2013 at 12:49pm
One of the finest actors, I still enjoy his movies though he passed away a year before I born. RIP

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cooks09, ninag

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Posted on: 16 December 2013 at 11:58am
I love him... he was great actor...
i love his movies but my most fav r Andhi n Angoor...
His movie Angoor is one of da Finest comedy movie ever...,,,

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cooks09, ninag, pallavi25

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Posted on: 16 December 2013 at 11:29am
Best actor ever. Looking forward to seeing him in Sholay 3-d next month.

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Posted on: 16 December 2013 at 10:04am
Truly, one of the finest yesteryear actors!

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