When Manoj Kumar met Bhagat Singh’s mother: ‘She scanned me and said, I do look like her son’

On Shaheed Diwas or Martyrs' Day, we revisit an old interview of Manoj Kumar, where he spoke about meeting Bhagat Singh's mother and taking her approval before playing Bhagat Singh on screen. Shaheed won three National Awards.

Manoj Kumar was relieved when Bhagat Singh’s mother approved of him to play the freedom fighter onscreen in the 1965 classic, Shaheed. On Martyrdom Day today, also called the Shaheed Diwas, we revisit an old interview of the iconic actor, where he opened up about meeting Bhagat Singh’s mother Vidyavati when she was hospitalised, and how she probably saw a reflection of her son in the actor.

“We got to know that Bhagat Singh’s mother is unwell and admitted to a hospital in Chandigarh. I went to meet her with Kewal Kashyap (producer of Shaheed). Bhagat Singh’s brother Kultar Singh told her that I’m the one who’s playing his bhaiya’s role in the film. His mother looked at me, as if scanning every inch to see if I’ll fit into her son’s role. “She slowly said, ‘Yes, he does look like him’. I felt a rush of happiness inside me,” Manoj Kumar said in an interview to Tehelka Haryana.

While Kumar played Bhagat Singh’s role, Prem Chopra and Anant Purushottam Marathe played Sukhdev and Rajguru respectively. Kamini Kaushal essayed the role of Vidyavati and Manmohan was seen as Chandrashekhar Azad.

Kumar also shared in the interview how he requested Bhagat Singh’s mother to take her medicines, and she obliged. “We met Batukeshwar Dutt also there, the revolutionary who threw a bomb at the Assembly along with Bhagat Singh. She wasn’t eating her medicines despite the request of the doctor. Then I asked her to have her medicines, and she said, ‘If you are saying it, I will eat’.”

Shaheed was the first Indian film to win three National Awards. According to Manoj Kumar, the biopic based on the life of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh winning the supreme award was like a stamp from the Government that it was the accurate document on his life.

Manoj Kumar further shared how he dedicated the award to Bhagat Singh’s mother. In the same video interview, he says, “My father himself went to Punjab and got Bhagat Singh’s mother to Delhi for the award ceremony. Our late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi hugged and touched her feet on the stage. Even I placed the award in the hands of his mother and touched her feet. It’s a result of my good deeds that I could sit with her, take her blessings ,” the actor said.

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