Veteran actor and filmmaker Manoj Kumar, 81, is not only happy to hear that one of his most iconic films Woh Kaun Thi is up for a remake, but has even offered to write for it.
“I heard that the well-known film is being remade and I am glad. The so-called classics need to be brought forward to today’s generations in a fresh and innovative way, which is not to say that they must be tampered with. I can’t say I’m happy with the way some of the old evergreens were remade recently. But if you remember Mehboob Khan, he had remade his own film Aurat as Mother India. The remake was in fact far better than the original,” says Manoj, adding, “I am hopeful about the remake as Prernaa (Arora, producer) has been doing good work like Pad Man and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha.”
Recalling the shooting for Woh Kaun Thi Manoj says, “Do you know, the most iconic song Lag Ja Gale Se was initially rejected by (director) Raj Khosla. I remember Madan Mohan saab (music composer) was shattered. He complained. I heard the song and immediately knew its potential. I took it back to Raj and made him hear it with me. At the end of the song, he got up, quietly went out of the room to get his chappals, came back inside and began hitting himself. Madan and I were aghast.”
He goes on, “He was hitting himself for being such a fool to have rejected a composition like this. I am glad Prernaa has taken the rights of Lag Jaa Gale Se and Naina Barse Rimjhim,” he adds.
In an aggressively confessional mood, he lets it out that the dialogues and scenes in Woh Kaun Thi were written by him. “Yes, I admit that I wrote many of the scenes and dialogues. The song Shokh Nazar Ki Bijliyan was filmed on Helenji and me. I felt something was missing. After the shoot I told Raj, ‘Kuch jamm nahin raha (something is amiss).’ The lines need to be changed.’ And I handed over papers with the changed dialogues written by me. He read them and quietly tore up the original dialogues saying, ‘From tomorrow we will be using Manoj’s lines.’ That’s how I ghost-wrote the scenes and dialogues in this ghost story,” he smiles.
But why didn’t the veteran actors take credit for his efforts? “It didn’t matter. I didn’t do it for name. I did it to improve the film. During those days we worked on every film like a family. Sadhana, Raj, Madan and I were one family during the shoot. We didn’t think about who should get credit. We wor-ked like a team of cooks in a kitchen putting together the best meal possible.”
He concludes by saying that he would be happy to write the new version of Woh Kaun Thi. “All they have to do is ask,” he says. And the producer of new version of the film, Prernaa Arora has happily agreed to ask....