The nature and story of a movie are a shadow of the social and political environment of the time. The screenplay, lyrics of the songs, and characters of movies are not only influenced by society but also have a great impact on society. As movies have a mass impact on the thinking and working of society, the people of politics try to implant their position in movies. There are multiple instances in the past where the government has tried to regulate the film industry in India and Manoj Kumar falls under one such case .
Harikrishan Giri Goswami to Manoj Kumar, Manoj Kumar to Bharat Kumar
Today is the birth anniversary of Padma Shri Harikrishan Giri Goswami. Known by the screen name Manoj Kumar, he was born on 24 July 1937 in Abbottabad, Pakistan. An Alma mater of the Hindu College, University of Delhi, Manoj Kumar is an Indian actor, filmmaker, screenwriter, lyricist, and editor of Hindi cinema.
After the Partition of India, Manoj Kumar migrated to Delhi from Pakistan and spent his childhood in Vijay Nagar, Kingsway refugees’ camp. After graduating from the Hindu College, Manoj Kumar decided to enter the film industry and moved to Bombay.
With his debut in Fashion in 1957, Manoj Kumar ensured his lead role in upcoming projects. His successful movies include Honeymoon, Apna banake Dekho, Naqli Nawab, Patthar Ke Sanam, Shaadi, Grihasti, and Apne Huye Paraye.
Like every actor, Manoj Kumar’s career-breaking movies were patriotic-themed movies. When the country was going through great upheaval, Kumar starred in the film Shaheed in 1965 creating a huge impact on society. The story based on the life of Bhagat Singh was highly appreciated.
After the India-Pakistan War in 1965, then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shashtri asked him to create a movie based on his popular slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan. Inspired by the words of the Prime Minister, he wrote a movie named ‘Upkar’. He was the lead director and actor of the movie. In 1967, the movie was a blockbuster and for his acting in the film, he was awarded a National Film Award. For his successive patriotic movies, he has been given the nickname Bharat Kumar.
Indira Gandhi and Manoj Kumar
Considering the social impact of Manoj Kumar and his movies, the former PM Indira Gandhi also had a good relationship with him. However, Manoj Kumar was against the imposition of an “Emergency” in India.
In 1975, the nation’s constitutional machinery was held hostage by the then PM Indira Gandhi, and an effort was launched to manufacture consent in favour of the decision. Concerning the same, one day a call came from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to Manoj Kumar. Manoj Kumar was asked to direct a documentary written in favour of Emergency by Amrita Pritam. Although he refused the offer on the phone itself, he had to face the brunt of Mrs. Gandhi for rejection of the offer.
Earlier in September 1972, Manoj Kumar’s directed, written, produced, and starred movie ‘Shor’ had a super hit at the box office. Considering the popularity of the movie, Manoj Kumar had decided to release it in theatres, but his voice against Emergency cost him a lot.
Sanjay Gandhi, the younger son of Indira Gandhi and the then I&B Minister Vidya Charan Shukla, to teach him a lesson, released the movie on the public broadcasting channel Doordarshan, and when the movie was officially released in the theatre no one went to see it.
Further, in 1976, his movie ‘Dus Numbri’ was banned by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. As an emergency was enforced, no one would dare to challenge Mrs. Gandhi. But, he took the government to court. Meanwhile, in 1977, the government changed, and the Information and Broadcasting Minister Lal Krishan Advani lifted the ban on the movie.
Thereafter, the fight continued, and before the 2004 general election, influenced by the nationalism ideology of the Bharatiya Janta Party, he joined the BJP. His voice against Indira Gandhi resulted in the banning of his movie. But, he lightened the lamp of hope in such constitutional darkness and wrote courageous stories for generations to come.
Today on his birth anniversary, we wish him a very Happy Birthday and remember his courageous acts against the dictator rule of Indira Gandhi.
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