indian cinema heritage foundation

‘Main Dhoondhta Hoon Jinko Raaton Ko Khayalon Mein’ - Shiv Kumar

15 Apr, 2020 | Beete Hue Din by Shishir Krishna Sharma
Shiv Kumar. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Hindi cinema has had many actors like Sudesh Kumar, Shailesh Kumar, Rakesh Pandey and Vikram who gained good recognition among the audience in a short time but were lost to oblivion soon after. In the list of such actors, is the name of Shiv Kumar Pathak, known to cinema goers as Shiv Kumar. He made his debut with the movie Poonam Ki Raat in 1965 and became a star with the release of the movie Mahua in 1969. During his nearly three and a half decade long career, Shiv Kumar ji has worked as a producer as well as director in addition to gaining success as an actor. Then, suddenly, there was no trace of him. 
 

Shiv Kumar. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

I tried to search him a lot for my column Kya Bhooloon Kya Yaad Karoon for the weekly Sahara Samay. However, I couldn’t arrange any contact through the people of the cinema world or cine unions. His name was also missing from the Film Directory. At last, I gave up my search for him. Years later, suddenly, my Facebook friend and regular reader of my blog Beete Hue Din, Delhi resident Shri Rajesh Dua, suggested that if possible I should interview Shiv Kumar ji who now resides in Faridabad. The news was quite encouraging but it was difficult for me to go from Mumbai to Faridabad just to interview him. Nearly a year later, when I had to go to Delhi in September for some work, I took time out to meet him at Faridabad. It was thus, I was able to finally meet him for Beete Hue Din and have a long discussion on his career with him. 

He originally belonged to Bembirpur (Aligarh/Uttar Pradesh). His grandfather Kunwar Umrao Singh Pathak was the zamindar (landlord) of forty villages there. Though, he belonged to a Brahmin family, his grandfather had been given this predominantly Kshatriya name as a title by the Britishers. Shiv Kumar’s father Shri Om Prakash Pathak was the eldest among four brothers. He along with one of his brothers used to take care of the lands situated six kilometers away from Bembirpur, in Bulandshahar’s Chhoti Kaser (Kaserkhurd) village. The remaining two brothers used to stay in the ancestral village of Bembirpur. Shiv Kumar ji’s mother also belonged to a zamindar family of Aligarh. Shiv Kumar ji was born on 12th January 1942 at Chhoti Kasar and on his birth his grandmother had given the poor of the village three bighas each of land. He was the eldest of his siblings i.e. three brothers and two sisters. 

Shiv Kumar ji recalls, ‘My education till sixth happened at home only by private tutors. For further education, I was sent to my maternal aunt’s house who used to stay in Palwal, Haryana. I completed my 10th from Palwal’s Hindu High School and my 12th from Sanatan Dharm College there. The then Finance Minister of Rajasthan Haribhau Upadhyay was a friend of my father’s. On his invitation my father shifted to Jaipur and started taking government contracts as a profession. Since he needed engineers for his work, after I completed 12th he got me admitted to the Jodhpur Engineering college and I started pursuing my studies there (I used to stay in the college hostel at that time).’ 
 
Shiv Kumar. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din
 
There was an elegance in the way Shiv Kumar ji conducted himself and dressed due to which all his friends used to address him as a “Hero”. In those days, producer-director Kishore Sahu had taken out an ad Naye Chehron Ki Talaash (Search for new faces) in the film magazine Screen. Shiv Kumar ji’s friends pressurized him to fill the application form for the same.
There was an elegance in the way Shiv Kumar ji conducted himself and dressed due to which all his friends used to address him as a “Hero”. In those days, producer-director Kishore Sahu had taken out an ad Naye Chehron Ki Talaash (Search for new faces) in the film magazine Screen. Shiv Kumar ji’s friends pressurized him to fill the application form for the same. Shiv Kumar ji remembers, ‘I had heard a lot of stories about the struggle in the film world and I was not inclined towards doing the same. However, to placate my friends I was forced to fill the form. In their enthusiasm and to show me as an over six foot tall actor, my friends entered my height as 6’1” whereas my actual height was 5’11”. I soon got an invite for a screen test. Since, the address on the form was my Jaipur address, the invite reached my father directly. Contrary to my expectations, my father enthusiastically sent me to Bombay with his secretary Jai Kumar. This incident happened in October 1963.’  
 
Poonam Ki Raat (1965). Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din
 
When Shiv Kumar ji’s turn came, Kishore Sahu asked him, ‘You don’t look 6’1” tall. Why did you give wrong information in the form?’. Without hesitation, Shiv Kumar ji replied, ‘The form is filled by my friends and they have sent me here forcefully. I also thought of this as an opportunity to sight-see in Bombay and to see what an interview is like.’ 
Kishore Sahu had a bungalow in Chembur’s Central Avenue Park. Shiv Kumar ji and Jai Kumar headed towards it as soon as their train reached Bombay Central. There was a huge number of boys and girls present there who were being seated in groups of 3s and 4s in the lawn outside the bungalow. Shiv Kumar ji also joined the same crowd.  The jury inside comprised of Kishore Sahu, His brother Vijay Sahu, His brother-in-law and production manager Ulfat Chopra and two assistants. When Shiv Kumar ji’s turn came, Kishore Sahu asked him, ‘You don’t look 6’1” tall. Why did you give wrong information in the form?’. Without hesitation, Shiv Kumar ji replied, ‘The form is filled by my friends and they have sent me here forcefully. I also thought of this as an opportunity to sight-see in Bombay and to see what an interview is like.’ 

Shiv Kumar ji says, ‘Kishore Sahu ji was quite impressed by my straight forward nature. When he came to know, I am from Aligarh, he said, Aligarh is the abode of Urdu Language and culture. Tell me a couplet (sher). He liked my recitation of the couplet. Then he asked me to tell a dialogue. I told him a dialogue from the movie Devdas originally recited by Dilip Kumar which was also liked by him. The next day, my screen test was taken in Chembur’s Asha Studio and the following day Kishore Sahu called me to his bungalow where I was signed for two movies Poonam Ki Raat and Hare Kanch Ki Chooriyaan
 
Mahua (1969). Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din
 
Hare Kanch Ki Chooriyaan (1967) proved to be a silver jubilee hit. This film gave an identity to Shiv Kumar ji. Then the musical hit Mahua, which released in 1969, solidified his position as a leading man.
Poonam Ki Raat which released in 1965 was not very successful but Hare Kanch Ki Chooriyaan (1967) proved to be a silver jubilee hit. This film gave an identity to Shiv Kumar ji. Then the musical hit Mahua, which released in 1969, solidified his position as a leading man. Shiv Kumar ji says, ‘The success of movie Mahua did benefit me but the films I signed as a hero, Armaanon Ki Duniya (opposite actress Mumtaz) and Daulat Ka Nasha (opposite actress Rehana Sultan) got shelved one after the other. My films like Dost Aur Dushman (1971) starring opposite Heena Kausar which did release were not very successful in the box office. My incomplete movie Saanjh Ki Bela (opposite Nutan) did get revived and released in 1980 but by then I had been replaced by Joy Mukherjee in it. All these things had a negative effect on my career.’
 
Shiv Kumar with Reena Roy. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din
 
Shiv Kumar ji reminisces, ‘I had special affection for Prem Nath ji and Sunil Dutt sahab. While Premnath ji was like a father figure to me, Sunil Dutt was like my elder brother. I had met Sunil Dutt Sahab in 1968 when we were both travelling in the same aeroplane to Lucknow to participate in a prize ceremony being conducted by the UP Journalists Association.
To support his dwindling career, Shiv Kumar ji was forced to accept second lead and character roles. He was seen doing supporting and character roles in movies like Mehmil (1972), Majboor (1974), Hawas (1974), Himalay Se Ooncha (1975), Nehle Pe Dehla (1976), Maha Badmash (1977), Daaku Aur Jawan (1978) and Rocky (1981).  Shiv Kumar ji reminisces, ‘I had special affection for Prem Nath ji and Sunil Dutt sahab. While Premnath ji was like a father figure to me, Sunil Dutt was like my elder brother. I had met Sunil Dutt Sahab in 1968 when we were both travelling in the same aeroplane to Lucknow to participate in a prize ceremony being conducted by the UP Journalists Association. I had received the Best Supporting Actor award for my role in Hare Kaanch Ki Choodiyaan while Sunil Dutt Sahab had got the Best Actor award for his role in the movie Milan. This chance meeting led to a deep friendship between us. On the other hand, I had become acquainted with Premnath ji during the shooting of Mahua.’
 
Shiv Kumar with Dilip Kumar, O P Rahan and Nutan. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din
 
Shiv Kumar ji was not happy with the way his acting career was shaping up. At that time, Sunil Dutt suggested that he should take up the mantle of a producer.
Shiv Kumar ji was not happy with the way his acting career was shaping up. At that time, Sunil Dutt suggested that he should take up the mantle of a producer. Shiv Kumar ji tells us, ‘The name of my banner was Ashwin Arts and the first movie I made under it was a multi-starrer called Ahinsa in 1979. The movie had stalwarts like Sunil Dutt, Rekha, Prem Nath, Ranjeet, Asrani, Kamini Kaushal, Nirupa Roy, Jairaj and Trilok Kapoor as part of its cast. Its director was Chand and its music was given by the duo Kalyanji-Anandji. People were apprehensive of how a first time producer like me would be able to complete a movie with such a big heavy-weight cast. Not only was I able to complete it, It was appreciated a lot by the audience and it celebrated a silver jubilee when it released. 
 
Shiv Kumar's films. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din
 
He says, ‘People from Aligarh used to ask me to make something in our own local language, therefore in 1982, I produced and directed Brij Bhoomi (1982). It was the first movie to be made in Brijbhasha.'
After Ahinsa, Shiv Kumar ji started his next production called Aastik. Shiv Kumar ji had decided to take the mantle of the director for this movie which starred Sunil Dutt, Moushumi Chatterjee, Mithun Chakraborty and Rati Agnihotri. Due to some reason, the movie had to be shelved after completion of shooting of just six reels. He says, ‘People from Aligarh used to ask me to make something in our own local language, therefore in 1982, I produced and directed Brij Bhoomi (1982). It was the first movie to be made in Brijbhasha. The cast comprised of Raja Bundela, Alka Nupur, Aruna Irani, Arun Govil and Tom Alter. Shiv Kumar ji himself had also played an important role in the movie. Its music was composed by Ravindra Jain. This movie which had been made in a mere one month, proved to be a golden jubilee hit. 
 
Lallu Ram (1985). Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din


After Brij Bhoomi, Shiv Kumar ji made two more successful films in Brijbhasha, namely, Lallu Ram (1985) and Maati Balidaan Ki (1985). He himself had essayed the titular role in the movie Lallu Ram. In the year 2000, he made a Hindi-Brijbhasha experimental movie Krishna Tere Desh Mein which he had produced and directed. This movie took two years to complete and was finally released in 2002. 
 
Shiv Kumar in Hare Kanch Ki Chooriyan (1967). Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din


Shiv Kumar ji used to stay in the North Bombay Society of Juhu, Mumbai at that time. He says, ‘Once I had to go to America for some work. I used to suffer a lot from cold and pain in my knee joints. After analysis there, doctors told me that I am allergic to marine air and I have developed arthritis as a result. After returning to India, I met Shatrughan Sinha who was then the Central Health Minister. We had worked together in the film Mehmil and had been good friends since then. With his help, I underwent knee replacement surgery on both my knees at AIIMS, New Delhi.’  
 

Shiv Kumar ji had got married in the year 1987. His wife Mrs Suman Pathak is from a reputed family of Hathras. They are the proud parents of twin sons Ram and Lakhan. Shiv Kumar ji says, ‘Both my sons were studying in North India only. Since the doctors had recommended that I stay away from marine air, I bought a house in Faridabad and came to stay here from Mumbai in the year 2007.’ 
 


It has been ten years since Shiv Kumar ji has been residing at Faridabad. He has been struggling with physical and financial difficulties for some time due to which most of his time is spent within the confines of the four walls of his house. 

Shiv Kumar ji passed away on 2 September 2018 at 1.30 A.M. at his native city Aligarh’s Jeevan Hospital.  

English Translation by: Shri Gajendra Khanna

Part of Shishir Krishna Sharma's Beete Hue Din blog series. 
 

  • Share
984 views

About the Author

 

 

Other Articles by Shishir Krishna Sharma