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Manoj Kumar remembers Raj Kapoor on his 32nd death anniversary

He was a legend that lives on. June 2 marked filmmaker/actor Raj Kapoor’s 32nd death anniversary. Friend and colleague, Manoj Kumar, spoke to a daily about his love for the Showman. He revealed how a ‘miscommunication’ almost stopped him from making a guest appearance in Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker (1970). Manoj has always been a Raj Kapoor fan. So when Raj offered him a small role in Mera Naam Joker, he was happy to accept it. However, the actor was shooting outside Mumbai when Raj tried to call him. For some reason, Raj couldn’t get through. Raj assumed that Manoj was trying to avoid him. When Manoj learnt about it, he gave a call to Raj and the two soon met.

Manoj Raj Kapoor

Manoj told the daily, “We met at 4 pm at (composer) Jaikishan’s residence, where I assured Raj saab that neither I nor my wife Shashi would ever dare to discomfit him. I told him I was looking forward to working with not the Showman but a karmayogi (who views his work with reverence)… Raj saab quietly heard me out, then, put his head in my lap and started crying.”

Manoj also revealed that Raj asked him to rewrite his own scenes. “When I demurred, pointing out that (K.A) Abbas saab (who wrote the story and screenplay) was a senior writer, he made me speak to him on the phone and he gave me his permission.” Raj Kapoor was impressed by the actor’s reworked scenes and few lines. For example, in the film when the young Raju asks who’s the biggest joker, David points upwards and indicates that it’s the divine one, just like a joker, He doesn’t do anything for himself. He added, “Appreciating that dialogue, Raj saab… pointed out that I had encapsulated the philosophy of the joker in these lines.”

Manoj Raj Kapoor

He further added, “The first story in this three-story film was reworked by me, but I didn’t do it for name, fame or money. I paid for my travel expenses and hotel stay and refused to take credit as writer. Mera Naam Joker was my tribute to karmayogi Raj Kapoor. In Urdu ‘awara’ means ‘khushboo’ and even today, the ‘fragrance’ of Raj Kapoor fills our senses.”

Mera Naam Joker starred Rishi Kapoor, Simi Grewal, Kseniya Ryabinkina, apart from Raj and Manoj. June 2 marked the 32nd death anniversary of Raj Kapoor.