Sanjeev Kumar is considered one of the finest actors of Indian cinema. He did all kinds of roles despite being a lead actor. Be it Khilona’s mentally weak person or Sholay’s old Thakur, Sanjeev Kumar never sighed away from testing his acting ability.
Even at his young age, he played characters of old men. He did all kinds of movies like serious, commercial hits, comedies, and tragedy.
He once told his close friend Gulzar that he didn’t want to marry because he doesn’t think he would last more than 50 years of age, as his father and his brother also died before touching 50. He had very few friends in Bollywood with whom he shared his feelings.
Sanjeev Kumar Early life and career
Sanjeev Kumar’s real name was Harihar Jethalal Jariwala, and his friends and family referred to him as Haribhai. He was born in Surat to a Gujrati Brahmin business family on 09th July 1938. His family came to Bombay when he was still a child. He had two more brothers named Kishore Jariwala and Nikul Jariwala.
Sanjeev Kumar wanted to become an actor from his childhood. Sanjeev Kumar began his acting career on the IPTA stage when he was still in college.
Sanjeev Kumar began his acting career on the IPTA stage. Following that, he joined the Indian National Theatre which predominantly played Gujarati dramas. As a result, he had a clear aim in his mind.
His film career began with the 1960 film ‘Hum Hindustani,’ in which he appeared in the small role of Police Inspector. But he first appeared as a lead actor in the film Nishan in which he appeared in a double role.
In 1962 he gave a screen test for ‘Aarti’ but failed to secure the role. The role was later done by Pradeep Kumar.
He acted in several movies after that but he got recognization from the movie ‘Khilona’. It was a remake of a Gujarati movie ‘Mare Javun Pele Par’ released in 1968. Sanjeev Kumar was also in the lead role of Gujrati version.
Sanjeev Kumar’s career took a big jump, he starred in movies like Seeta Aur Geeta, Koshish, Manchali, etc. He won National Awards and Bengal Film Journalists’ Association Awards as best actor for ‘Koshish’. He played a deaf and mute man character who got married to a deaf woman (played by Jaya Bachchan).
In the 1972 movie ‘Parichay’ Jaya Bachchan played the character of his daughter.
In both Sanjeev Kumar’s hit films Aandhi and Sholay, released in 1975, Sanjeev Kumar played the role of a man older than himself.
Sanjeev Kumar has not only done serious roles, but he has also worked in many comedy films like Pati Patni Aur Woh, Angoor, Shriman Shrimati, etc.
He also appeared in period movies like ‘Love and God’ directed by K.Asif. The movie was originally planned in 1963 with Guru Dutt in the lead role. But after Guru Dutt’s untimely demise in 1964, the movie was reshoot with Sajeev Kumar in the lead role.
In 1971 K Asif also died and the movie was still incomplete. But in 1986 the movie was released in an incomplete state and did not do well at the box office.
His last movie was Professor Ki Padosan which was released eight years after Sanjeev Kumar died in 1993. His costars in the movie were Asha Parekh, Sekhar Suman, and Padmini Kolhapuri.
Love life and Marriage
Sanjeev Kumar and Hema Malini developed a friendship during the shooting of a movie. Sanjeev got so much attracted to her that one day he met Hema Malini’s mother with a marriage proposal. But Hema’s mother refused Sanjeev’s offer bluntly citing she wanted her daughter to get a man from his cast and community only. She even further added that she has already finalized her groom.
Later he asked his friend Jeetendra to convey his feelings to Hema Malini. But later Jeetendra’s marriage was fixed with Hema Malini. But in the meantime, Dharmendra and Jeetendra’s then-girlfriend Shobha reached Chennai where the secret married was scheduled to take place.
Eventually, the marriage was called off and later Jeetendra married Shobha.
During the shooting of the movie “Sholay”, Sanjeev Kumar and Hema Malini did not appear in a single frame together. Even Sanjeev Kumar never even pronounce the name ‘Basanti’ in the movie (Basanti was Hema Malini’s character name).
Sanjeev was shattered as Hema refused his proposal. Sulakshana Pandit, who shared the screen with him in some movies then proposed him for marriage. But Kumar considered her as a good friend, so he refused her proposal. Sulakshana went into depression after the denial and even stopped appearing in movies.
Sanjeev Kumar remained unmarried for lifelong.
Sanjeev Kumar Death
Sanjeev Kumar was a big foodie and never controlled his diet though in the latter part of his career he faced weight gain issues. After the first heart attack, he underwent bypass surgery in the USA. On 6 November 1985, at the age of 47 he suffered a major heart attack and Sanjeev was no more.
Sanjeev’s one brother died before him and the other brother died six months after Kumar’s passing. All the three brothers failed to reach 50.
Noted Bollywood character Dharshan Jariwala is a Nephew of Sanjeev who appeared in movies like Style, Excuse Me, Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani.