When Manoj Kumar turned into a real hero during emergency
The Emergency period, imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from 1975-77 was a tense time for the country and everyone was affected by it — even the film industry. On the 40th anniversary of the 21-month-long period of internal strife, we spoke to veteran actor Manoj Kumar (right) who shared anecdotes from the troubled times that the film industry had to face.
“It (emergency) was all right at the start, but it turned more intense with time,” he recalls. The 77-year-old actor was in talks with the PM for a film during that time, which he later cancelled due to changes suggested in the screenplay. “We were working on the film, Naya Bharat, and I was discussing the film with Mrs Gandhi and her son, Sanjay (Gandhi). At first, they loved the script. She even agreed to make a special appearance in it,” he says, adding, “But a few months later, they said that she could only give her voice in the film. The script had to be changed and I was not Ashutosh Gowariker (left), who’s directing the actor in his upcoming film, was all praises for the actor.
“For Hrithik, Mohenjo Daro has been extremely challenging in the wake of his shoulder injury. We have tried to be careful not to aggravate his injury. And he is pushing all limits to perform the gruelling stunts,” says the director.
Although the film has been termed as a love story, Gowariker states that action and adventure are synonymous to the plot of the film.
About the current status of the film, he says, “The shooting has been going good till now and we’ll complete the shooting in September.”
The film is an epic love story set in the Indus Valley civilisation. It is being extensively shot in Bhuj and will see Hrithik romancing debutant Pooja Hegde. okay with that. So I cancelled everything, and the film was eventually shelved.”
Manoj is also the only one to win a case against the laws passed during emergency. “During emergency, there was a law that said a film could be telecast on TV two weeks after its release. So one of my films, Shor (released in 1972) was the first film that was telecast by Doordarshan and we re-released it two weeks later in theatres. But since the film had already been aired, no one went to the theatres and I had to literally pay the theatres money from my own packet to recover the losses. A similar thing happened to another film of mine, Dus Numbari, and then we decided to take this to court, where I eventually won the case,” he recalled.
Manoj also helped the iconic film, Sholay (1975), get a certificate from the Censor Board. “I got a call from Vidya Charan Shukla, the Information and Broadcasting Minister that time, who said ‘We can’t pass Sholay because there is too much violence in it.’ I proved that their perspective was wrong and they passed the film,” he says.