Actor Manoj Kumar expressed surprise when he got to know on Friday that he was getting the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award. “I was taking a nap when calls from Ashok Pandit and Madhur Bhandarkar woke me up. I was astonished that I would be getting the Dadasaheb Phalke award. I could not believe it.” says the 78-year-old veteran.
It is common knowledge in the film industry that Manoj Kumar has never been crazy about awards in his 58-year-long, distinguished career. He won the first national award as a scriptwriter for Shaheed in 1965, and then in 1967 for the trend setting patriotic film Upkar. “I donated the entire amount I got for my national award for Shaheed to Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s family. Awards do give any creative person a sense of satisfaction. I am happy that the government has at last rewarded my work,” he says, sounding calm, yet ¬emotional. “Today, I ¬remember my late parents. Without their noble teaching and guidance, I would have never reached where I did. I also fondly remember Dr.V.Shantaram, Raj Kapoor and Raj Khosla on this day. They were my inspiration.”
Not many know about Manoj Kumar’s close ¬association with Satyajit Ray. He recalls, “At an international film festival at Delhi, I came across Manikda (Satyajit Ray). I asked him if he had watched my film, Upkar. He said he had, but found it melodramatic. I smiled and questioned him if the sequence in his own film Charulata (1964) where a thunder storm occurs when Soumitra Chattarjee sees Madhabi Mukherjee not melodramatic? Patting me affectionately, Manikda said I caught him!! There can’t be anyone like Manikda, even today,” he says.