New Delhi: Veteran Bollywood star Manoj Kumar, best known for his patriotic films 'Purab Aur Paschim', 'Upkar' and 'Kranti', was today chosen for the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award, the highest official recognition in Indian cinema.
The 78-year-old actor became the 47th recipient of the award, the highest recognition in Indian cinema which consists of a golden lotus, a cash prize of Rs 10 lakhs and a shawl.
Manoj Kumar. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Kumar's name was unanimously recommended by a five member jury consisting Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Salim Khan, Nitin Mukesh and Anup Jalota.
Best known for his films 'Hariyali Aur Raasta', 'Woh Kaun Thi?', 'Himalaya Ki God Mein', 'Do Badan', 'Upkar', 'Patthar Ke Sanam', 'Purab Aur Paschim', 'Shaheed', 'Roti Kapda Aur Makaan' and 'Kranti', Kumar became popular as 'Bharat Kumar' thanks to his patriotic dramas.
Kumar was born as Harikrishna Giri Goswami in Abbottabad, which was then a part of Pre-Independent India. At the age of 10, his family shifted to Delhi. He graduated from Hindu College and decided to make a career in showbiz.
The actor got his first big break 1960 with 'Kaanch Ki Gudia' but it was 'Hariyali Aur Raasta' that finally established him. He went on to star in romantic hits like 'Honeymoon', 'Apna Banake Dekho', 'Naqli Nawab', 'Do Badan', 'Paththar Ke Sanam', 'Sajan' and 'Sawan Ki Ghata'.
The actor later shifted his focus to films with patriotic theme by acting in films like 'Shaheed', which was based on the life of Bhagat Singh.
Kumar made his directorial debut with 'Upkaar', which is said to be inspired by the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri's popular slogan Jai Jawan Jai Kissan. His other films that explore the idea of patriotic duty include 'Purab Aur Paschim', 'Roti Kapda Aur Makaan' and 'Kranti', in which he got a chance to work with his idol Dilip Kumar.
Kumar's career started to decline after 'Kranti'. He quit acting after his appearance in the 1995 film 'Maidan-E-Jung' but returned as a director to launch son, Kunal Goswami, in the 1999 film 'Jai Hind' which had a patriotic theme. The film, however, did not do well at the box office.
The actor won a National Film Award for 'Upkaar' and was honoured with the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1992. Anupam Kher congratulated Kumar, "Congratulations Manoj Kumar Ji for Dada Saheb Phalke Award. Your films taught us what it means to love your country. Jai Ho. Patriotism."
Director Madhur Bhandarkar wrote, "Congratulations to the veteran actor/Filmmaker Manoj Kumarji for prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award. Much deserving."
Recent Dadasaheb Phalke winners include iconic names like Shashi Kapoor, Gulzar, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Soumitra Chatterjee and Mrinal Sen.