Veteran actor and filmmaker, par excellence Manoj Kumar in a prolific career of over 50 years has directed iconic films like Upkar, Shor and Roti Kapada Aur Makaan. He has also acted in superhits like Pathhar Ke Sanam, Sanyasi and Woh Kaun Thi. In conversation with Subhash K Jha, Manoj Kumar had reminisced his shooting days. The filmmaker-actor had opened up about the experience of shooting for Woh Kaun Thi and much more.
Recalling the experience of shooting for Woh Kaun Thi, Manoj Kumar had said, “Do you know, one of the film’s most iconic songs Lag ja gale se was initially rejected by the director Raj Khosla. I remember the music composer Madan Mohan Saab, a very sensitive artiste, was shattered. He came to complain, ‘Manoj Bhai, look at the composition that your director has rejected.’ I heard the song and I immediately knew its potential. I took it back to Raj Khosla made him hear it with me. At the end of the song, he got up quietly went out of the room to get his chappals came back inside and began hitting himself with it. Madan Mohan and I were aghast. M ‘Yeh aap kya kar rahen hain?’ Raj said he was hitting himself for being such a fool to reject a composition like Lag Ja gale se…I am glad the producer Prernaa Arora has taken the rights of two of the songs Lag jaa gale se and Naina barse rimjhim. I feel the other songs in Woh Kaun Thi like Chhod kar tere pyar ka daaman, Jo humnein dastaan apni sunayi and Shokh nazar ki bijliyan are equally iconic.”
Manoj Kumar is in an aggressively confessional mood. He lets it out that the dialogues and scenes in Woh Kaun Thi were written by him. “Yes, I admit I wrote many of the scenes and dialogues. I will tell you how it happened. I reached Simla for the shooting .The song Shokh nazar ki bijliyan was filmed on Helenji and me. I felt something was missing. After the shooting I went to the director Raj Khosla’s room. My leading lady Sadhanaji, the producer N N Sippy were also present. I told Raj, ‘Kuch jamm nahin raha (something is amiss). The lines need to be changed.’ And I handed over papers with the changed dialogues written by me. Raj Khosla read them. He quietly tore up the original dialogues and threw it into the fireplace saying, ‘From tomorrow we will be using Manoj’s lines.’ That’s how I ghost-wrote the scenes and dialogues in this ghost story.”
Why didn’t Manoj Kumar take credit for his efforts? “Arrey yaar. It didn’t matter. I didn’t do it for the name. I did it to improve the film. During those days we worked on every film like a family. Sadhana, Raj Khosla, Madan Mohan and I were one family during WohKaun Thi.We didn’t think about who should get credit or not. We worked like a team of cooks in a kitchen putting together the best meal possible.”
Image source: IMDb
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