Manoj Kumar
Manoj Kumar
Harikrishan Goswami

(1937-07-24) 24 July 1937 (age 86)
Other namesBharat Kumar
  • Actor
  • film director
  • film producer
  • screenwriter
  • lyricist
  • editor
  • politician
Years active1957–1999
Political partyBharatiya Janata Party
SpouseShashi Goswami
Children2; including Kunal Goswami
RelativesManish R Goswami (brother)

Manoj Kumar (born Harikrishan Goswami; 24 July 1937) is an Indian actor, film director, screenwriter, lyricist and editor who worked in Hindi cinema. He is known for acting and making films with patriotic themes, and has been given the nickname Bharat Kumar.[A] He is the recipient of a National Film Award and seven Filmfare Awards, in varied categories. He was awarded Padma Shri in 1992 and Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2016 by the Government of India for his contribution to Indian cinema and arts.

Early life

Kumar was born into a Hindu Brahmin[1] family in Abbottabad, a town in the North-West Frontier Province, British India (present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan).[2] His birth name is Harikrishan Giri Goswami. When he was 10, his family migrated from Jandiala Sher Khan to Delhi due to the Partition.[3] Kumar pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hindu College before trying his luck in films. When he was young, he admired actors Dilip Kumar, Ashok Kumar and Kamini Kaushal and decided to name himself Manoj Kumar, after Dilip Kumar's character in Shabnam.[2][4]


1957-1964: Debut and rise to prominence

After making a little-noticed début in Fashion (1957), followed by forgettable roles in films like Sahara (1958), Chand (1959) and Honeymoon (1960), he landed his first leading role in Kaanch Ki Gudiya (1961). Piya Milan Ki Aas (1961), Suhag Sindoor (1961), Reshmi Roomal (1961) followed, but the majority of these proved unsuccessful. This changed in 1962 when he starred in Vijay Bhatt's Hariyali Aur Rasta opposite Mala Sinha. It was a critical and commercial success.[5] This was followed by - Shaadi (1962), Dr. Vidya (1962) and Grahasti (1963), all of which were moderately successful at the box office.[6]

His breakthrough came with Raj Khosla's mystery thriller Woh Kaun Thi? in 1964.[7] The film emerged a hit, which was attributed to its watertight screenplay and melodious songs, such as "Lag Jaa Gale" and "Naina Barse Rimjhim", both solos by Lata Mangeshkar.[8]

1965-1981: Stardom

1965 was a big year for Kumar, as it initiated his rise to stardom.[9] His first release was patriotic drama Shaheed, based on the life of Bhagat Singh, the Independence revolutionary. It received highly positive responses from critics as well as the then-Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri, and it was a hit at the box office.[10] This was followed by romantic drama Himalay Ki God Mein,[11] a blockbuster which made him a bankable star.[9] In the month of December, Kumar scored another hit with mystery thriller Gumnaam.[12] The success streak continued in 1966, when he reunited with Khosla for Do Badan alongside Asha Parekh. This film was remembered for Khosla's direction, Kumar's performance, and songs written by the lyricist Shakeel Badayuni (including "Raha Gardishon Mein", sung by Mohammed Rafi, and "Lo Aa Gayi Unki Yaad", a solo by Lata Mangeshkar).[13] He delivered another hit that year in Shakti Samanta's Sawan Ki Ghata, performing opposite Sharmila Tagore.[14]

After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri asked him to create a film based on the popular slogan Jai Jawan Jai Kissan ("Hail the soldier, hail the farmer").[2][10] The result was his directorial debut, the 1967 patriotic drama Upkar.[15] The film topped the box office chart that year, and emerged as an All Time Blockbuster.[16] Upkar received critical acclaim and its music was also highly successful, especially "Mere Desh Ki Dharti," which is played during Republic Day and the Independence Day of India. Upkar won him the National Film Award for Second Best Feature Film as well as his first Filmfare Best Director Award.[17][18] His next release, Patthar Ke Sanam again went on to become a major commercial success, but Anita alongside Sadhana flopped.[19] In 1968, he co-starred alongside Raaj Kumar and Waheeda Rehman in Neel Kamal.[20] The same year, he reunited with Rehman for Aadmi, which also had Dilip Kumar in the lead.[21] Neel Kamal proved a superhit at the box office, becoming the third highest-grossing film of 1968.[22] Aadmi also did reasonable business, and was declared a semi-hit by the end of its run.[23] The year 1969 saw the rise of Rajesh Khanna, who stormed the nation with the historic blockbuster Aradhana.[24] His rise led to a decline in the stardom of actors like Rajendra Kumar, Shammi Kapoor and Sunil Dutt.[25] During this period, Dharmendra and Kumar were the only actors who remained unaffected by Rajesh Khanna Mania, and kept delivering huge hits. Kumar's only release of 1969 was Sajan opposite Parekh.[26] The film was a hit, and ranked tenth among the highest-grossing films of that year.[27]

He returned to patriotic themes in 1970 with Purab Aur Paschim, which juxtaposed life in the East and West. It proved to be a mega blockbuster both in India and overseas.[28] In the United Kingdom, the film was released in 1971 and ran for over 50 weeks in London. It grossed £285,000 in the UK, equivalent to 2.5 million (US$332,252.41). It broke the UK box office record of another blockbuster Do Raaste, which had released in the UK a year earlier. Purab Aur Paschim held the UK record for 23 years, until it was finally broken by Hum Aapke Hain Kaun in 1994.[29] His other releases of 1970 were Yaadgaar, Pehchan and Mera Naam Joker.[30][31] While Yaadgaar was a box office failure, Pehchan (opposite Babita) proved a commercial success, and Raj Kapoor's Mera Naam Joker (in which he had a supporting role) flopped at the time of release, but gained cult status with the passage of time and the growing visibility of Indian content in world cinema.[32][33] After delivering a decent success with Balidaan in 1971, the following year, he starred in Sohanlal Kanwar's Be-Imaan and directed and starred in Shor.[34][35] The latter, opposite Nanda, was not a huge box office success, but received critical acclaim. It featured the memorable song Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai, a duet by Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh, which was composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal and written by Santosh Anand.[36] Kumar won his first and only Filmfare Award for Best Actor for his performance in Be-Imaan, as well as a Filmfare Award for Best Editing for Shor.[37]

Kumar's peak came in the mid-1970s, when he delivered three huge blockbusters in a row.[38] This started with the social drama Roti Kapada Aur Makaan, which he also directed. In addition to Kumar, the film starred Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman and Moushmi Chatterjee.[39] Released on 18 October 1974, it emerged as the biggest grosser of the year and was given the verdict of All Time Blockbuster.[40][41] Kumar won his second Filmfare Best Director Award for it. In 1975, he reunited with Kanwar for Sanyasi which again proved to be a blockbuster.[42] With Dus Numbri in 1976, he completed his hat-trick of blockbusters.[43]

In 1977, he had two releases with Shirdi Ke Sai Baba and Amaanat. Neither film did well at the box office. After break of an year, he starred in the hit Punjabi film Jat Punjabi. In 1981, Kumar directed and starred in historical drama Kranti alongside Dilip Kumar, Hema Malini, Shashi Kapoor, Parveen Babi and Shatrughan Sinha.[44] Kranti went on to become the biggest patriotic hit of all time, topping the box office chart in 1981.[45] It was the most successful film of the 1980s, and Kumar's third All Time Blockbuster after Upkar and Roti Kapada Aur Makaan.[46][47] Kranti also proved to be the last notable successful Hindi film of his career.[48]

1987-1999: Later career

After Kranti in 1981, Kumar's career began to decline, and films he starred in such as Kalyug Aur Ramayan, Santosh and Clerk all flopped at the box office.[49] He quit acting after his appearance in the 1995 film Maidan-E-Jung.[50] He directed his son, Kunal Goswami, in the 1999 film Jai Hind, which had a patriotic theme. The film was a box office failure and the last film Kumar worked on.[51]

He was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, for a career spanning over 40 years.[52] He consistently worked with the actors Prem Nath, Pran, Prem Chopra, Kamini Kaushal and Hema Malini in his career. His closest friends from the industry included Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Mukesh, Mahendra Kapoor, Dharmendra, Rajendra Kumar and Shashi Kapoor.[53][54][55]

His trademark movement of a hand covering the face was very popular, and continues to be the butt of jokes of latter day stand-up comedians. In 2007, the Shah Rukh Khan film Om Shanti Om featured the lead character pretending to be Manoj Kumar, so as to sneak into a movie premiere, by holding his hand over his face. Kumar filed a lawsuit which was settled out of court.[56]


Like many other Bollywood stars, Kumar decided to enter politics following his retirement. Before the 2004 general election in India, he officially joined Bharatiya Janta Party.[57]



Year Film Role Notes
1957 Fashion N/A
1958 Sahara Shyam
Panchayat Gopal
1959 Chand Gokul
1960 Honeymoon Kishore
1961 Kaanch Ki Gudiya Raju
Piya Milan Ki Aas Maji
Suhag Sindoor Ratan
Reshmi Rumal Shyam
1962 Hariyali Aur Rasta Shankar
Maa Beta Keshav
Banarsi Thug Shyam
Shaadi Raja
Apna Banake Dekho
Dr. Vidya Ratan Chowdhury
Naqli Nawab Yusuf
1963 Grahasti Mohan
Ghar Basake Dekho Kumar
1964 Apne Huye Paraye Dr. Shankar
Woh Kaun Thi? Dr. Anand
Phoolon Ki Sej Nirmal Verma
1965 Shaheed Bhagat Singh
Bedaag Rajesh
Himalay Ki God Mein Dr. Sunil Mehra
Gumnaam C.I.D. Inspector Anand
Poonam Ki Raat Prakash Gupta
1966 Picnic Vinod
Do Badan Vikas
Sawan Ki Ghata Gopal
1967 Patthar Ke Sanam Rajesh
Anita Neeraj
Upkar Bharat
1968 Neel Kamal Ram
Aadmi Dr. Shekhar
1969 Sajan Ashok Saxena
1970 Purab Aur Paschim Bharat
Yaadgaar Bhanu
Pehchan Gangaram "Ganga" Ramkishan
Mera Naam Joker David Francis
1971 Balidaan Raja
1972 Shor Shankar
Be-Imaan Mohan
1974 Roti Kapda Aur Makaan Bharat
1975 Sanyasi Ram Rai
1976 Dus Numbri Arjun
1977 Shirdi Ke Sai Baba Scientist
Amaanat Deepak
1979 Jat Punjabi Jat Punjabi
1981 Kranti Bharat
1983 Mujhe Insaaf Chahiye Himself Guest appearance
1987 Kalyug Aur Ramayan Pawan Putra Shri Hanuman
1989 Santosh Santosh Singh
Clerk Bharat
1991 Deshwasi Sangram Singh
1995 Maidan-E-Jung Master Dinanath


Accolades and honours

President of India Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Dadasaheb Phalke Award to Manoj Kumar at the 63rd National Film Awards in 2016

Civilian Award

Year Honor Result Ref.
1992 Padma Shri Honored [58]

National Film Awards

Year Category Work Result Ref.
1968 Second Best Feature Film Upkaar Won [59]
2016 Dadasaheb Phalke Award Honored [60]

State Honours

Year Category Work Result Ref.
2008 Kishore Kumar Award Honored [61]
2010 Raj Kapoor Award Honored [62]

Filmfare Awards

Year Category Work Result Ref.
1968 Best Film Upkaar Won [63]
Best Director Won
Best Story Won
Best Dialogue Won
Best Actor Nominated
1969 Best Supporting Actor Aadmi Nominated
1972 Best Actor Be-Imaan Won
Best Director Shor Nominated [64]
Best Story Nominated
Best Editing Won
1975 Best Film Roti Kapda Aur Makaan Nominated [65]
Best Director Won
Best Story Nominated
Best Actor Nominated
1976 Sanyasi Nominated [66]
1999 Lifetime Achievement Award Honored [52]

BFJA Awards

Year Category Work Result Ref.
1968 Best Dialogue Upkaar Won [67]

Other awards

Other honours

Reception and legacy

Manoj Kumar at the Dada Saheb Phalke Academy Awards in 2010

Kumar is regarded as one of the greatest actors of Indian cinema.[79] He is noted for his patriotic films.[80][81] One of the most successful actor of 1960s and 1970s, Kumar appeared in Box Office India's "Top Actors" list eight times, (1967-1969, 1972–1976).[9] In 2022, he was placed in Outlook India's "75 Best Bollywood Actors" list.[82]



  1. ^ Bharat is an alternative name for India.


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