He had a penchant for playing characters much older than him. In fact, when aged only 22, he appeared on stage as a character who was 60.
Old or not, the late Sanjeev Kumar was rated amongst the best actors to grace Indian cinema. He could do anything – from hero to character roles – with confidence and ease.
He had a great sense of timing for comedy too, his double role in Angoor winning wide acclaim. He will always be remembered for playing the Thakur in Sholay and a mentally challenged character in Khilona.
Here are some of his great performances:
Director: Chander Vohra
A mentally challenged man and a prostitute share an unusual relationship when she is brought into the rich thakur household to cure the former. Vijay (Sanjeev Kumar) goes into a state of shock when he realises that his neighbour Bihari (Shatrughan) marries his sweetheart and later she dies tragically. This disturbs his mind.
Chand (Mumtaz), a tawaif, is brought home to help Vijay who rapes her unwittingly. Later they develop a friendship. Vijay’s younger brother Mohan (Jeetendra) also falls in love with Chand but walks away when he realises that she likes Vijay. But Bihari has his eyes on Chand too. Later Mohan steps in to clear a lot of misunderstandings.
Director: Rajinder Singh Bedi
Newly-weds Hamid (Sanjeev Kumar) and Salma (Rehana Sultan) rent a flat in a red light area which causes a lot of problems for them. The flat they live in belonged to a former mujra and qawali singer named Shamshad. This leads to many people knocking on the door looking for the singer.
This upsets the couple. They are now battling their own moral codes against the flash of immoral money being flaunted around them. The moral battle finally gets Hamid who, in a frenzy, rapes his own wife. Will the couple survive the immoral onslaught?
A very touching and poignant story of a deaf mute couple, Hari (Sanjeev) and Aarti (Jaya), and how they cope with their lives through hope and determination, is splendidly brought to the screen by Gulzar. His task is made easier in that he has two of the finest actors in Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bachchan.
The couple have plenty of reverses in their lives and as they go along they have a son. Later in life they lose the son too but nothing is beyond the couple. They fight to live on another day.
Hotel manager J K (Sanjeev Kumar) rescues Aarti Devi (Suchitra Sen), the drunk daughter of a politician. They fall in love and get married but after 10 years they are forced to separate after differences surface as Aarti becomes a full-time politician.
Years later, the couple bump into each other and find that a few sparks of their relationship still remain. But Aarti, now a famous politician, is afraid to take the first step towards reconciliation as she fears for her reputation.
Pati Patni Aur Woh (1978)
Director: B R Chopra
The plot focuses on the extra-marital affair of an office-goer who starts humbly in life and then becomes “the man with the roving eyes” as he climbs the jobs ladder. While cycling to work in his early days, Ranjeet (Sanjeev Kumar) meets Sharda (Vidya Sinha), marries her and has a child.
Now sales manager of the company, Ranjeet trains his eyes and mind on his secretary Nirmala (Ranjeeta). He gains her sympathy first by lying that Sharda is terminally ill. He tries to worm his way further before Sharda finds out and spies on him. Will marital bliss win the day over lust?