Manoj Kumar turning director again for 'Indo-Pak' love story

By Ruchika Kher

New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) Bollywood veteran Manoj Kumar is upbeat about donning the director's hat once again in his golden jubilee year in the industry for an "Indo-Pak" love story.

The actor-turned-filmmaker may have moved on from the "Om Shanti Om" controversy, but maintains that what Shah Rukh Khan did was "dirty".

"Though I had three subjects in mind, I decided to first go with 'Indo-Pak: A Love Story'. The film will not revolve only around patriotism. It will have a human and romantic angle," Manoj Kumar told IANS over telephone from Mumbai.

"The film will highlight that there is a lot of commonalities between the two countries. We have the same features, our food is similar and, after all, a few years ago we were one single country," said the 71-year-old actor, who was known as 'Mr. Bharat' for his patriotic films like "Upkaar", "Shaheed" and "Purab Aur Paschim".

Manoj Kumar said he chose such a theme as he was born in Abbottabad, a town of the North West Frontier Province now located in Pakistan, adding that he would take a few Pakistani actors for the film.

"I was inclined to this subject since I have lived in Pakistan and now am living in India. I know the cultures of both the countries," he explained. He is donning the director's mantle after 1999 when he made "Jai Hind".

Asked if he still had any grudges against superstar Shah Rukh for the spoof on him in Farah Khan's 2007 film "Om Shanti Om", he said he had moved on but asserted that what Shah Rukh had done was wrong.

"Shah Rukh did a dirty thing. When I reacted he then visited me, apologised and said he will remove the scene from the film, but he did not keep his promise. It was not that I get angry with people on everything, but I have to protect the image of Manoj Kumar. Later when he removed the scene, I dropped the matter," Manoj Kumar said.

"It's been two years and now I don't have any grudges against him. He is just like a younger brother to me," he added.

Manoj Kumar had objected to the spoof on him in "Om Shanti Om" and filed a lawsuit to get the scenes deleted, but the issue was later settled out of court.

Manoj Kumar said he would like to cast new faces in his new venture though he likes Aamir Khan best among the current lot of heroes.

"I like Aamir's work and I'm particularly happy that he is doing less and only meaningful work, but for my film I want fresh faces," the Padma Shri awardee said.

"I am negotiating with a few actors, but nothing is confirmed as of now. I have decided to take one or two actors from Pakistan for the film," he said.

Asked if he would like to act in his film or take up other acting assignments, the yesteryears actor said: "I will never impose myself on a script. If there is a suitable role for me in a film, then I will do it; otherwise I won't push myself into it."

"As far as signing any other film is concerned, I have always been very focused about the kind of work I want to do. In 50 years I have worked in only 42 films. I have always believed in quality and meaningful cinema and not quantity. If I get something like that, I will do it," he added.

(Ruchika Kher can be contacted at ruchika.k@ians.in)

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