Wishing Manoj Kumar many happy returns of the day on his 80th birth anniversary.

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Manoj Kumar (born Harikrishna Giri Goswami on 24 July 1937) is an award-winning actor and director in Bollywood. He is remembered for his films Hariyali Aur Raasta, Woh Kaun Thi?, Himalaya Ki God Mein, Do Badan, Upkar, Patthar Ke Sanam, Neel Kamal, Purab Aur Paschim, Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, and Kranti. He is known for acting in and directing films with patriotic themes, and has been given the nickname “Bharat Kumar”.

In 1992, he was honoured with the Padma Shri by the Government of India. India’s highest award in cinema, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, was bestowed him in 2016.

As a youngster, he admired Dilip Kumar, Ashok Kumar and Kamini Kaushal and decided to name himself Manoj Kumar after Dilip’s character in Shabnam (1949).

After making a little-noticed début in Fashion in 1957, Manoj landed his first leading role in Kaanch Ki Gudia (1960) opposite Saida Khan. Piya Milan Ki Aas and Reshmi Roomal followed, setting the stage for the Vijay Bhatt-directed Hariyali Aur Raasta (1962) opposite Mala Sinha. Kumar then appeared with Sadhana in Raj Khosla’s Woh Kaun Thi (1964), and reunited with Vijay Bhatt and Mala Sinha in Himalaya Ki God Mein (1965). Manoj Kumar and Raj Khosla repeated their successful Actor-Director partnership with the film Do Badan, which was remembered for many reasons including Raj Khosla’s direction, Manoj Kumar and the heroine Asha Parekh’s excellent display of histrionics, an outstanding musical score by Ravi, immortal songs by the lyricist Shakeel Badayuni, among others.

In the 1960s his successful films included romantic films like Honeymoon, Apna Banake Dekho, Naqli Nawab, Paththar Ke Sanam, Sajan, Sawan Ki Ghata and social films like Shaadi, Grihasti, Apne Huwe Paraye, Pehchaan, Aadmi and thrillers like Gumnaam, Anita, Woh Kaun Thi.

Kumar’s image as the patriotic hero started with the 1965 film Shaheed, based on the life of Bhagat Singh, the Independence revolutionary. After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri asked him to create a film based on the popular slogan Jai Jawan Jai Kissan (hail the soldier, hail the farmer).

The result was Kumar’s magnum opus and his directorial debut, Upkaar (1967). In it, he played both a soldier and a farmer. The film was also noted for the famous song Mere Desh Ki Dharti, written by Gulshan Bawra, composed by Kalyanji-Anandji and sung by Mahendra Kapoor. Upkaar was a hit and won Kumar his first Filmfare Best Director Award.

Manoj returned to patriotic themes in Purab Aur Paschim (1970), in which life in the East and West are juxtaposed. In 1972, he starred in Be-Imaan (for which he won the Filmfare Best Actor Award) and directed and starred in Shor (1972). The latter, opposite Nanda, was not a huge box office success on its release but has gained cult status over the years. It featured the memorable song Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai, a duet by Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh, which was composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal and written by Santosh Anand.

In the mid-1970s Kumar starred in three hit films: Roti Kapda Aur Makaan (1974) was a social commentary featuring an all-star cast including Zeenat Aman, Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan that won him his second Filmfare Award for Best Director; Sanyasi (1975) had Kumar and Hema Malini in the lead roles of a religious-themed comedy; and Dus Numbri (1976) also gave Kumar and Hema top billing. In 1981, Kumar reached the peak of his career when he got the opportunity to direct his idol, Dilip Kumar, as well as star in Kranti, a story about the struggle for Indian independence in the 19th century. Kranti was the last notable successful film in his career. He also starred in the hit Punjabi film Jat Punjabi.

After Kranti, Kumar’s career began to decline in the 1980s as all of his subsequent films failed at the box office. In 1989, he cast Pakistani actors Mohammad Ali and Zeba in his film Clerk. He quit acting after his appearance in the 1995 film Maidan-E-Jung. He directed his son, Kunal Goswami, in the 1999 film Jai Hind which had a patriotic theme. The film was a flop and was the last film Kumar worked on. That year he was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award for a career spanning over 40 years.

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