By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: Manoj Kumar feels cheated by Farah Khan, director of 2007 blockbuster Om Shanti Om, for not keeping her word on deleting the spoof on him while releasing the film in Japan last week. The veteran actor spoke with Subhash K Jha.
Q: Manoj Saab, you appear to be very upset about the spoof on you in Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om, as it has now gone to Japan?
A: I am not upset. I feel cheated, and therefore saddened. I was anxious to know if they have removed those scenes or not. I am a trusting human being. When they (Farah Khan and Shah Rukh Khan) told me they had removed them, I accepted it. But then I got the feedback that those scenes have not been removed. I think you’ll agree with me when I feel that I must take the strongest legal action against these people who have ridiculed me. I will punish any person who hits me below the belt. There came a time when even Gandhiji had to say, ‘It’s do or die’. They’re behaving with me like pimps and defaming me like a prostitute.
Q: Hadn’t they assured you that they would remove the scenes spoofing you?
A: They told the honourable court they would do so (in 2008). It was a court decision. And yet nothing was done. We were taught by our parents to respect our elders. Perhaps subsequent generations weren’t taught the same. Their parents forgot to teach them how to respect elders.
Q: Has Farhan or anyone from the Om Shanti Om team approached you?
A: I’ve nothing against Farah. She continued to be in touch on the telephone, spoke very respectfully. I am not in contact with Shahrukh. He’s busy in his own world.
Q: What action are you taking?
A: I’ve spoken to my lawyer and he has asked me get proof from Japan (that the objectionable scenes have not been removed). When I took legal action earlier, my lawyer persuaded me to forget and forgive. The offending party had approached my lawyer from other sources. We had relented. This time, even if MKG says to forgive, I won’t.
Q: You mean Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi?
A: It could also be Manoj Kumar Goswami (laughs).
Q: Do you feel a basic lack of respect in the film industry today?
A: Let me tell you something. When I was a leading man heroes of my generation, I didn’t have the courage to smoke in front of our directors. We’d sneak into the makeup room for a smoke. My Uncle is just 7 years older than me….till date I cannot dare to smoke in front of him although he keeps sending me cigarette packets.That’s the culture we belong to. This is a different breed. These are scattered and lost souls, far removed from our culture and tradition. You know it’s like modern art. You seek desperately for beauty in it. Earlier paintings had their virtues on display for anyone to see.
Q: Do you smoke at your age?
A: Occasionally. Even earlier in my youth I was not a chain smoker. I used to emulate Dev Anand’s style of smoking. We’d go to see Dev Saab’s picture. The next day I’d be wearing a black suit, trying to walk and smoke like him. Likewise I’d see a Raj Kapoor or a Dilip Kumar film I’d be trying to behave like them. We had our heroes. And I continue to look up to them. Today’s generations don’t see the need to look up to anyone.
Q: Manoj Saab, when do you start your new film?
A: I will direct another film this year. But it’s a different world out here now. Movies are controlled by corporate houses. Even I was approached by one a year back. They said: `Make a film for us. Aapki kahaaniyan achchi hoti hai. Aapka music immortal hai. Aapke stars kaun kaun se pehchaan ke hain?’ I replied: `Ram Mohan and Prem Chopra’(laughs). They are not bothered with the subject, just the stars. And these stars don’t guarantee a full house on the first day. I need financial backing to make my film. I can’t produce a film on my own at this age. Maybe 25 years ago I would have had the guts. But I will start a big film this year.
Q: You must!
A: At an awards function recently I said I pray to a pea. That’s because Dadasaheb Phalke saw a pea-pod. He removed a pea and shot it as it in various stages of growth. He took photographs of the pea in the process of growth and convinced a financier on how a film can be made. So I am thankful to the pea every day of my life.