Actor and producer, Sujit Kumar worked in Hindi and Bhojpuri films in the course of a career that spanned over four decades. While he initially played the leading man in the early 60s in suspense films such as Ek Saal Pehle (1965) and Lal Bangla (1966), he largely played supporting roles such as character actor or villain in a slew of films like Ittefaq (1969), Aradhana (1969), Amar Prem (1972), Insaaniyat (1974), Avtaar (1983), Haqeeqat (1985), Kala Bazaar (1989), Kishen Kanhaiya (1990), Tirangaa (1993), and Krantiveer (1994). He was known for working in several films with Rajesh Khanna, also appearing in the famous song Mere sapno ki rani. A leading star in Bhojpuri films, after he made his debut in the industry with Bidesiya (1963), his Bhojpuri number Kashi hille Patna hille filmed on him in Dangal (1977) remains popular. He featured in more than 150 Hindi films over the 60s, 70s and 80s, as well as 25 films in Bhojpuri. Turning producer in the 90s, he made films such as Daraar (1996), starring Juhi Chawla, Rishi Kapoor and Arbaaz Khan, and Champion (2000) starring Sunny Deol and Rahul Dev.
Born Shamsher Bahadur Singh in Benaras, British India on 7 February, 1934, Sujit Kumar was initially seen onscreen in Dev Anand’s Taxi Driver (1954) in which he is spotted smoking a cigarette in the background. He went on to leave his mark in films such as Ramanand Sagar's Aanken (1968) in which he played a spy, Naya Raasta (1970), Jugnu (1973), Charas (1976), Dharamveer (1977), Dev Anand's Des Pardes (1978), The Burning Train (1980), Kaamchor (1982), and Krantiveer. He played a police inspector in several films like Ittefaq (1969), Amir Garib (1974), The Burning Train, Boxer (1984), Qaidi (1984), Haqeeqat, Aakhir Kyon? (1985), Kala Dhanda Goray Log (1986), Asmaan Se Ooncha (1989), Aakhri Baazi (1989), Krantiveer, and Tirangaa.
A personal friend of Rajesh Khanna, Sujit Kumar featured in approximately 12 Khanna-starrers. He was also a close friend of Jeetendra, Rakesh Roshan, Saawan Kumar Tak and Randhir Kapoor.
Sujit Kumar had a considerable fan following in Bhojpuri cinema. He featured in Bhojpuri films such as Saiyya Se Bhaile Milanawa (1964), Loha Singh (1966), Bidhana Nach Nachawe (1967), Ganga Kahe Pukar Ke (1969), Sampurna Teerth Yatra (1970), Dangal (1977), Pan Khaye Saiyya Hamar (1977), Saiyya Magan Pahalwani Me (1981), Sajai Da Maang Hamar (1983), and Patoh Bitiya (1989).
Turning producer, he produced films such as Anubhav (1986), Aasmaan se Ooncha (1989), Khel (1992), Daraar (1996), Champion (2000), Aetbaar (2004), and Ganga Kahe Pukar Ke (1991).
Battling cancer, Sujit Kumar passed away on 5 February, 2010.
Image courtesy: IMDB