Sanjeev Kumar - An Actor Par Excellence

Sanjeev Kumar, the sheer versatility of this actor can be judged from the fact that even thespian Dilip Kumar, regarded as the ‘God Of Acting’ in Bollywood, was in awe of his histrionics.

Sanjeev Kumar’s repertoire of roles includes everything from young to the old, sensitive to comic to the horror genre. Remember the romantic hero in SEETA AUR GEETA, middle-aged ailing father in PARICHAY, the elderly father of Sharmila Tagore in MAUSAM, the mutilated, revenge-seeking Thakur in SHOLAY, the wacky in ANGOOR or the ghostly in JAANI DUSHMAN and if this was not all then he played nine different roles in NAYA DIN NAI RAAT, the role immortalized by South legends like Sivaji Ganesan in NAVARATHRI (1964), and by Akkineni Nageswara Rao in NAVARATHRI (1966). 

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Sanjeev Kumar is probably the best mainstream actor Bollywood has ever witnessed. It’s tragic such a great actor died at the age of 47 on November 6, 1985 after suffering a massive heart attack. Raaga.Com remembers the actor on his death anniversary and shares an interesting anecdote about his struggle and his dedication towards acting. 

Sanjeev Kumar began his acting career on stage with IPTA in Mumbai and later he joined the Indian National Theatre. When he began his struggle in Bollywood he had hard times finding film assignment. Hence to survive he even did extra and one such role was for eminent filmmaker K.Asif who made MUGHAL-E-AZAM

Remembering his early days, Sanjeev Kumar once said, “I still recall those days when I slept without food. Once I had no food for three days hence when I got an extra‘s role in K.Asif’s movie LOVE AND GOD, I was excited. I had to walk in the crowd. During the shooting Asif Sahab saw some fire in me and recommended me to be in his touch. I felt thrilled.” 

He continued, “Few months later the shooting of LOVE AND GOD stopped as Guru Dutt, the film’s hero, committed suicide. The news had great impact on me as Guru Dutt was a great blow to the industry. I was still struggling then though I had now got some B-Grade action movie. Suddenly one day I received a call from Asif Sahab’s office and to my delight Asif Sahab offered me the hero’s role.” 

Sanjeev Kumar informed though LOVE AND GOD was left incomplete due to Asif Sahab’s untimely demise but working with him he learned the nuance of acting.