Sanjeev Kumar and Sharmila Tagore.
Sanjeev Kumar became a an indispensable actor in the mid-70s and made notable contribution in commercial films like Sholay, parallel cinema like Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj ki Khiladi, and refined commercial films of Gulzar like Aandhi. But he was also accepted as a romantic actor by the viewers of 70s and 80s.
With Sharmila Tagore, Sanjeev Kumar amazed the audience with his brilliant performance in Gulzar’s Mausam in 1975. He was a doctor who came to Darjeeling during his student life. Sharmila’s father played by Om Shiv Puri treated him, and from that time he was associated with Sharmila. But he went to do further studies abroad when Sharmila gave birth to a daughter. As Sanjeev Kumar did not return back Sharmila lost her mental balance and her daughter which was also played by Sharmila ended up earning her livelihood in a Kotha. The mother died eventually.
Sanjeev Kumar returned back to Darjeeling at an old age, and recollected his memory with the song “dil dhoonta hai” sung by Bhupinder Singh and composed by Madanmohan. He took Sharmila (the daughter) with him at the end of the film. The film had a memorable appeal in the minds of the viewers and still remains as one of the most refined films Gulzar had ever made.
Sanjeev Kumar and Sharmila again performed together in Gulzar’s film Namkeen. Sanjeev Kumar was a truck driver and during his journey came to Sharmila’s house. Sharmila was the eldest of the three sisters who were brought by a widow played by Wahida Rehman. Sharmila’s sister played by Shabana Azmi was even dumb.
The family faced extreme poverty and Sanjeev Kumar was sympathetic towards them. He was even impressed with the maturity of Sharmila Tagore who was running the family in someway or the other. The film was totally based on realistic touch and the performance of all the actors was natural.
The same pair also performed in Basu Bhattacharya’s Grihaprabesh, in a film related to complex relationship between husband and wife. The films of Sanjeev Kumar and Sharmila Tagore should be preserved as cine-classics as they provide a lot of filmic value for the new generation.
By: Supriya Chatterji.