Sanjeev Kumar and Gulzar.
Sanjeev Kumar was one of the gifted actors of 70s who was indispensable in bollywood industry. He had performed in every type of films including classic pictures like Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ki Khiladi to commercially successful blockbusters like Sholay.
But the director who had used his talents to their limits was Gulzar. Gulzar dealt with classic literature and life of the middle-class man with their crude reality. Sanjeev Kumar fulfilled most of his requirements in diversified roles.
He was sublime in the film Koshish, which was based on the life of a deaf and dumb couple. Although he himself could not speak, he learnt the art of reading faces by which the communication could be understood by attending classes in deaf and dumb school. He taught the skill to his wife Jaya Bacchan also in the film. He only had eyes and face to express the feelings of the character and he did it in style. The scene where his child did not respond to a musical toy was very touchy. He thought his child was also deaf and actually the toy was defective and did not make any sound.
In Mausam, he recollected his romantic memories with Sharmila Tagore during the time when he entered into an affair with her during his student life. He came to Darjeeling as a medical student and was treated by Om Shivpuri, the father of Sharmila Tagore in the film. But after promising to marry Sharmila Tagore he went for Higher Education and returned after a long period of time. By that time Sharmila gave birth to a daughter, died herself and the daughter entered unlawful business to earn her livelihood. The reflections in the film could only be expressed by a stalwart of the callibre of Sanjeev Kumar.
Again Gulzar used him in style in the film Aandhi. He was compassionate to his wife played by Suchitra Senn who was a political in the film. She was cornered from every angle by her opposition and could only communicate about her feelings to her husband Sanjeev Kumar who stayed separately as his profession was different from his wife. Sanjeev Kumar even received filmfare award for best actor in the film.
The other landmark films of Gulzar, where Sanjeev Kumar was sublime include Parichay, Angoor, Namkeen, etc. All the roles played by Sanjeev Kumar in Gulzar’s films were different from one another and had sensitive human values attached to them.
Sanjeev Kumar entered the skin of the characters and made the viewers believe in them through his sheer brilliance. It is a pity that Sanjeev Kumar did not get the recognition he deserved and never became a phenomenon like Dilip Kumar or Balraj Sahani, but whenever viewers revisit his films they agree on the point that he was the fit performance for bringing life in classic roles in Gulzar’s films. The films should be restored for those reasons.