Veteran Bollywood actor Manoj Kumar, 78, is ecstatic about being conferred Dadasaheb Phalke honour; says he will be present at the felicitation ceremony in Delhi despite his frail health
Veteran actor Manoj Kumar was taking a siesta on Friday afternoon when incessant ringing of the phone woke him up. The calls haven’t stop coming since and the 78-year-old doesn’t mind that. After all, they were all congratulatory messages from his friends and well wishers on being named as the winner of the 47th Dadasaheb Phalke Award for his unparalleled contribution to cinema.
Manoj Kumar at his house on Friday evening. Pic/Nimesh Dave
The actor, who is popularly called Bharat Kumar for his oeuvre consisting of patriotism-laced films, says he feels “happy, satisfied and proud” all at the same time. “I was resting last afternoon when Madhur Bhandarkar and Ashok Pandit called me up to convey the news. I want to thank the government which deemed me worthy of this award. I am elated. Cinema has never been a profession for me; it has always been my passion.
I chose the path of acting, so that I could arouse patriotic spirit among Indians,” says Kumar. He quickly adds, “I might be a 78-year-old suffering from health issues but I am a soldier and a fighter. The government is organising a programme to felicitate my work, and I will personally collect the award in New Delhi.”
The award includes a golden lotus, cash worth Rs 10 lakh and a congratulatory letter. He is a recipient of the National Film Award for Upkaar (1967), and was conferred the Padma Shri in 1992. Kumar’s last big screen appearance was in Maidan-E-Jung (1995).
Given that he has starred in and helmed several films with patriotic themes, what does he feel about the “anti-national” debate? “The youth today is aware and loves the country. As far as student politics is concerned, colleges, universities and other institutions are for students to study and they should just concentrate on that,” he says.