Gulzar-Sanjeev Kumar pairing was like Martin Scorsese-Robert De Niro, says Anil Kapoor

Anil Kapoor on Saturday said celebrated actor Sanjeev Kumar’s creative partnership with veteran filmmaker-lyricist Gulzar was equivalent to Hollywood legends Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro’s iconic pairing.

Kumar, whose real name was Haribhai Jariwala, is regarded as one of the finest performers of Indian cinema. He collaborated with Gulzar on some of the filmmaker’s most revered feature projects such as Mausam, Aandhi, Angoor, Koshish and Parichay.

During the same era, Scorsese and De Niro delivered Hollywood classics Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, New York, New York and Raging Bull.

Anil Kapoor said the first film he saw as child was Sanjeev Kumar’s 1968 title Raja Aur Runk and since then, he has been a huge admirer of his work.

“Every performance from Dastak to Koshish, Sholay, Anamika to Manchali, I have seen all his films and especially all the films he did with Jaya Bachchan ji. So many films were directed by Gulzar sahab with Haribhai. It was like Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro,” Kapoor said at the launch of the book, Sanjeev Kumar- The Actor We All Loved.

The biography, released on the late actor’s 84th birth anniversary on Saturday, is co-authored by biographer Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta and Kumar’s nephew Uday Jariwala.

Another connection between Martin Scoresese and Sanjeev Kumar is the fact that Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khilari, which featured the actor in a pivotal role, was included by the Hollywood filmmaker in his list of ’40 films that one must watch before they die’, said Gupta.

Kapoor said the 1977 movie, based on Munshi Premchand’s short story of the same name, was his introduction to the city of Lucknow.

“I was in Lucknow two-three days ago and I have never shot (for a film) here but I remember Lucknow because of Shatanj Ke Khilari. Satyajit Ray, one of the greatest filmmakers made his first Hindi film and he cast Sanjeev Kumar,” he added.

The actor said he feels fortunate to have made his debut with a cameo appearance in Kumar’s 1979 movie Hamare Tumhare.

One of the key lessons he learnt from Kumar was “there are no small or big roles”.

“That was the beginning of my career. I learnt from him that there are no small or big roles. And if you have talent, you will surely be noticed even in a small role. Just like this I started my career with small roles,” Kapoor added.

The Jugjugg Jeeyo star also reminisced the friendship Sanjeev Kumar shared with his father, filmmaker Surinder Kapoor, and cinema icon Shammi Kapoor.

“All three were drinking friends. My dad was fond of drinking and so was Haribhai. Shammi uncle used to have a lot of parties at his house in Malabar Hill and Haribhai would come there.”

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