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Sanjeev Kumar’s biography is a reflection of the man and actor he was

‘Sanjeev Kumar: The Actor We All Loved’ has become the new favourite in the readers list.

Shweta Kumari | New Delhi | Updated :


Sanjeev Kumar was the antithesis of the typical Bollywood hero doing romance and action. Not one to crave glamorous roles, he was more interested in versatility. From his mature roles in films like Mausam and Aandhi to his comic timing in Angoor or the angst of a person with disabilities in Koshish-he was truly a thinking man’s actor. His expressive face, inflections and pauses, and natural ease for lip-syncing, of it made him the complete package.

His biography Sanjeev Kumar: The Actor We All Loved is an impeccable reflection of the man, about whom not much has been known, and the actor, who drew a new line every time he appeared on the screen.

Written by Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta, this biography takes us through Sanjeev Kumar’s journey of becoming one of the greatest actors Bollywood has seen.  The biography is a compilation of essays by  Sanjeev Kumar’s friends in the cinema world like Gulzar, Randhir Kapoor, and co-stars Sharmila Tagore, Moushumi Chatterjee, and Tanuja, among others. Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta shared her experience of writing the book with The Statesman correspondence.


What inspired you for this biography?

Sanjeev Kumar had a very tumultuous journey.  He lost his father at the age of 12. From there on, he built his career with tremendous grit and determination. He had a heady mix of depression, harmful decisions, misplaced trust, and nagging health issues. Despite all of this re-scripted his life and became a superstar.  This life journey motivated me as a biographer as I like to tell stories of people who have re-scripted their lives successfully. My first book was ‘Rescript Your Life’- the message in the book is that “you become what you believe in, not what you want.”

Who was your source person for writing the book?

This is an authorized biography with Uday Jariwala, the nephew and heir to the legacy of Sanjeev Kumar, whose real name was Harihar Jariwala. Uday was the force behind the book. Once we joined hands, it took me four years, multiple interviews with over 25 contributors, and poring over 800 magazine articles in five languages to write this book. The book chronicles his rags-to-riches story, his motivations, his fears, and his God-gifted talent.  while going through the book readers will feel they are in the same room as Sanjeev Kumar- understanding his life firsthand. It is an entertaining read and a prep for aspiring actors, all at once.

 Whom did you interview?

Uday Jariwala and his mother Jyoti Jariwala, Sanjeev Kumar’s sister Gayatri Patel and her children, close friends Subhash Sanas, Kadir Pirzada, and theatre veteran Amit Divatia provided me a base on which I built the foundation of the book. Thereafter, the film industry supported the book heartily- from Sharmila Tagore to Randhir Kapoor, Ravi Tandon sir to Paresh Rawal, Shatrughan Sinha to Tanuja ma’am, Padma Shri Sarita Joshi ji to Anju Mahendru and Sachin Pilgaonkar to Moushmi Chatterjee- everyone contributed their memories and their friendship to the book.

Which aspect of Sanjeev Kumar have you emphasized more, professional or personal?

I would say that Sanjeev Kumar lived for his family and for his art in equal measure, so both aspects have been important.

When he was young, his mother was in debt; but he wanted to make it as an actor. This can be a difficult thing to do. After 14 years of struggle, he saw 14 years of dizzying success. Professionally, he took incredible risks, attempting all kinds of roles and never getting slotted. And even at the height of his success, he was generous to a fault. He gave money to anyone who needed it- whether they were his friends or someone who wanted to make a film but didn’t have the money to. Personally, when he knew he was approaching his end; he wrote a will and secured the future of his brother’s family.

Sanjeev Kumar lived a full life in half the amount of time. He left the world a better place. That’s an incredible legacy.