Those days, I think it was in the early eighties when every second Hindi film was being shot in Hyderabad or in some other places in Andhra Pradesh – Ali Peter John
Jeetendra was the ruling star and it was who decided who his co-stars would be and all the others in a film would be.
A film called “Takkar” was being made and Sanjeev Kumar was cast in a very crucial role and we were in Bangalore in a five-star hotel.
Sanjeev and me used to spend most of our evenings in Mumbai at a particular Chinese hotel which they said belonged to the mother of Neetu Singh who later married Rishi Kapoor.
We met around seven thirty and kept drinking and Sanjeev who was a strict vegetarian at home gorged on the choicest non-vegetarian delicacies till late in the night and we then shifted to a dhaaba on Linking Road called Jai Jawan Jai Kisaan Dhaaba which was run by retired fight directors and fighters who prepared the best tandoori chicken and biryaani which Sanjeev relished…
While we were in Hyderabad he made it a point to continue the kind of evenings we had in Mumbai, the only difference being that the venue was his suite in the hotel. We talked about every possible subject and our talks grew more and more juicy and even naughty as the drinks continued to flow into our beings.
He was so full of concern that when he realized that I was too drunk, he even left me to my suite which was just a two minute walk away.
The following evening it was the same story. He was invited to the suites of the other stars shooting for the film but he preferred my company, I still don’t know why.
We followed the same pattern of celebrating the evening and when he was sufficiently drunk, he suddenly got into a very sombre and solemn mood.
He straight away said, “main pachaas saal ka hone se pehle mar jaaoonga, mujhe poora yakeen hai.
Mere khaandaan mein koi bhi aadmi pachaas ke uppar jeenewaala nahi hai. Mera baap pachaas ka tha jab woh mar gayaa aur main bhi aise hi maroonga”.
It took me a long time to get him out of that mood and we then kept talking till late in the night and his last words were again the same, he was sure that he would die before he was fifty and that he would die a bachelor…
Time passed. He had a younger brother called Kishore Jariwala who was a failed music director and a part time actor who had a weakness for alcohol and beautiful women.
He lived a happy go lucky life with the “sur” (which he used for alcohol and for rhythm in music at the same time). He suddenly died when he was forty-nine years old.
Sanjeev had a younger brother, Nakul Jariwala who lived with his family in Perin Villa on Pali Hill close to where Dilip Kumar, Saira Banu, Rajendra Kumar and Nasir Husain lived.
Nakul was married and had two children and his family took care of Sanjeev who only had a room to himself. Nakul was co-producing a film called “Do Waqt Ki Roti” starring Sanjeev, Feroz Khan, Reena Roy and Amjad Khan and the film was being directed by a drinking friend of Sanjeev called Sakpal who was once an assistant to Narinder Bedi who directed films like “Khote Sikkey” (which was seen as the source of inspiration for the making of “Sholay”),“Jawaani Deewani”, “Adaalat” and “Benaam”, the last two with Amitabh Bachchan with whose family he had a close association.
The film Nakul was producing faced any number of problems and was not released for several years.
Nakul could not take the shock and died of a heart attack when he was just thirty-six years old.
Sanjeev took care of Nakul’s young wife and their two children. There were many actresses like Sulakshana Pandit, Neeta Mehta and Jaishree T who claimed to be in love with him but he soon fell a victim to a serious heart ailment.
He was treated by the best doctors and then flown to America for further treatment.
He came back like a shadow of what Sanjeev Kumar, one of the greatest actors of the country was.
He had to spend most of his time at home and could not even complete the films he had signed.
It was only “Love and God”, a film started by the late K.Asif (the maker of “Mughal-E-Azam”) which he tried to complete but could not and most of the scenes he had left incomplete were shot by K.C Bokadia who had taken over the film with duplicates of Sanjeev.
He was resting at home one afternoon when he had only one guest, the actor Sachin who was a great admirer of his.
It was Sachin who called me at three in the afternoon and give me the biggest shock when he told me “Hari Bhai is dead” Sanjeev Kumar had fulfilled his own prediction he had made to me in that suite of that hotel in Bangalore when he said that no man from his family would cross fifty.
Sanjeev Kumar, one of the greatest and also one of the most under estimated actors had died when he was only forty-six!
AN INSTITUTE TO KEEP HIS MEMORIES ALIVE
Sanjeev Kumar who started as a junior artist and started his career as an actor in films as a police constable with no dialogue to speak in “Hum Hindustani” in the fifties and also worked in the Gujarati plays of Indian National Theatre rose to be one of the greatest actors of India.
He had in his short career essayed any number of some of the most difficult characters in every kind of film.
He had won almost every major award for his brilliant performances, but died very young (he was only forty-seven when he died of a massive heart attack).
An actor of his calibre did not get the kind of recognition he deserved, but it was the initiative taken by the Surat Municipal Corporation (Haribhai Jethalal Jariwala was born in Surat) that has led to the building of one of the most well-equipped auditorium which has aptly been named after the legendary actor.
The facilities the auditorium offers is like a great tribute paid to the actor who is still remembered as one of the greatest actors and will always be a part of Indian film history.
The auditorium was inaugurated in February 2014 by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr. Narendra Modi who two months later took over as the Prime Minister of India.
The highlights of the auditorium built to celebrate the life of the actor include a state-of-the-art auditorium built at a cost of over Rs. 100 crore.
It is strategically located in one of India’s most upcoming cities of Surat.
It has adequate parking space for cars and two wheelers, over hundreds cars and about two hundred and fifty two wheelers.
The auditorium which can house 1140 people has excellent infrastructure for artistes- 6 AC green rooms with attached toilets, facilities for make-up tables, wardrobe in the back stage.
Two rehearsal rooms can accommodate 30 artistes. It has two crèche rooms and a projection room. It has a large stage (20.00 mts X 11.00 mts) to accommodate all kinds of programmes.
It also boasts of state-of-the-art lighting, which can support all kinds of performances and 100% back up power by DG set giving uninterrupted power.
The other highlights are top quality 34,000 watt capacity audio system and a food court with food and environment.
It has added additional incentives to make Surat and even the whole of Gujarat to be known as a state that has entertainment as its top priority.
The family of Sanjeev Kumar has presented the auditorium with all the National and other awards he won during his lifetime.
The utmost care is taken by the authorities to make the Sanjeev Kumar Auditorium a must see place which can bring back memories of an actor who gave a new dimension to acting in films.