A renowned lawyer, the founder of Cinemaazi, and the creation of a website dedicated to cinematic heritage-Sumant Batra along with Hanif Zaveri- an author, journalist, actor, and playwright, ventured into dwelling deep into the life of Sanjeev Kumar, their love for him brought Sumant Batra and Hanif Zaveri together in the first place and decided to go further into the simplicity of a lifestyle of Sanjeev Kumar’s life that he lived.
Batra’s expertise in his field and Zaveri’s experience resulted in the birth of An Actor’s Actor: The Authorised Biography Of Sanjeev Kumar.
Considering Sanjeev Kumar, the grandmaster legend who smashed all stereotypes, single-handedly demolished all competition with the consistent show of his talent. And working on such a project of bringing his actions into words would be unflinching.
“The book is an honest account of Sanjeev Kumar’s life without any attempts of senializing it or glamorizing it. It is as simple as the man was.”.sumaarized by the co-author, Batra.
Few excerpts from the interview with Hanif Zveri-
From where and how did the idea of working on Sanjeev Kumar’s life come about ?To this, Zaveri responded by talking about her conversation once, with Dilip Kumar, whereupon Dilip Kumar himself complimented and shared his amazement of Sanjeev Kumar’s recordings. “Why don’t pen a book based on Sanjeev Kumar” he suggest Zaveri, from where the whole idea of working on this project was triggered into now a wonderful output.
Was it hard to gather information about his life from his family and friends?Not at all. All the family members, Sanjeev’s Bhabis, their children, his stepsisters, their children, his friends and relatives in surat, as well as his real sister, Gayatri Patel, who lives in the US, all of them helped quite a lot. Gayatri even sent across the family album for a better insight.
Are you a Sanjeev Kumar fan too?Absolutely, the sheer similarities I share with Sanjeev Kumar are uncanny. His real name is Harihar Jariwala, mine is Hanif, both stars with the letter ‘H’ . While he was born in Surat and brought up in Bombay, I grew up in Pydhonie, which like just a bus stop away. I was a part of IPTA(Indian peoples Theatre Association), similar to how he was. I debuted on stage playing an old man’s role, just like Sanjeev Kumar debuted his on-stage performance playing an old man in the first play, Damroo, directed by AK Hangal. Our friendship developed over the years, in 1983, and as a journalist, did many interviews with him.
What about his love lifeThere were two most important love stories in his life, one with Nutan, who was a married woman whose husband was a Naval officer, Rajnish Bahl. There was no way, the husband would tolerate an affair, and the relation ultimately broke apart.
Later with Hema Malini, their story broke apart due to some incident with Rajesh Khanna(the book cites the incident) after which as well Hema Malini apparently did her best to explain things, but Sanjeev Kumar was unyielding. The book explains the whole time period in detail.
After all, it’s all about one’s destiny and how one gets muddled in it. You can buy a house, land, or escape certain things, but destiny is one thing that’s not an easy thing one could escape from, if it’s written then it shall happen, Shares Zaveri further.
After Sanjeev’s heartbreak, there was no restore of him towards alcohol. He always respected the shooting and theater schedule and adhered to it. Though he used to drink the served cold drinks in the morning and hard drinks in the night, he never came to set with consumption. He was very disciplined that way.
The deaths of men in his family always revolved around the age of 50. Being aware of this, Sanjeev Kumar was never afraid of death. Once asked in an interview, “why do you always play old mans role despite being so young” to which he says, considering my inevitable death around the age of 50 similar to all the men in my family, I might as well experience the senile phase of one’s life, even if it’s through a character.”