When Manoj Kumar invited then-Prime Minister Pt Lal Bahadur Shastri to the screening of Shaheed at Delhi’s Plaza Cinema, Shastri consented on the condition that he will leave in ten minutes. But the former PM not only watched the entire movie, but also spoke to the audience. It was 1965, and India was at war, and Shaheed instilled patriotic enthusiasm. At 2 am the very next day, Kumar received a phone call from Shastri, who asked him to his residence for tea.
The Prime Minister then requested him to direct Upkar. The movie was a tremendous success, and Manoj won the Filmfare Best Director Award for it. Upkar also won prizes for best movie, best script, and best dialogue. Manoj quickly came to glory as Mr Bharat, the nationalist. Such was the persona of the veteran actor, who defined India’s patriotism and nationalism with his performances.
On his birthday today, on July 24, here are some of his most famous patriotic songs that continue to inspire Indians.
Mera Rang De Basanti Chola (Shaheed, 1965)
At a period when films were sold based on their composers’ names, Manoj chose lyricist Prem Dhawan over the more marketable duo of Shankar-Jaikishen and Kalyanji-Anandji. Bhagat Singh’s Mera Rang De Basanti Chola as the song in this movie was a mere co-incidence, but it still continues to give us goosebumps.
Aye Vatan Aye Vatan Humko Teri Kasam (Shaheed, 1965)
This song from the 1965 film Shaheed continues to inspire patriotism among Indians. Mohammad Rafi has given vocals to the song, while Prem Dhawan has written the lyrics.
Mere Desh Ki Dharti (Upkar, 1967)
When Manoj heard his lyricist Gulshan Bawra performing the song Mere Desh Ki Dharti, he handed it to composer Kalyanji, who weaved it for the movie, Upkar. The movie re-established the veteran actor as Mr Bharat.
Hai Preet Jahan Ki Reet Sada (Purab Aur Paschim, 1970)
One of the many songs that we have grown up hearing during our school’s Independence and Republic Day is Hai Preet Jahan Ki reet from hit movie Purab and Paschim. Mahendra Kapoor has given his voice for the song, which was penned by Indeevar.
Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna (Shaheed, 1965)
Ram Prasad Bismil’s Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna continues to light the spirit of resistance and freedom among the youth, even today.
For Manoj’s movie Shaheed, the poem was turned into a song, sung by the legends Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey, and Rajendra Mehta.