Manoj Kumar was often sneered at, when he broke into lengthy monologues about the pride of being an Indian. Once the satirist-comedian, I.S. Johar, had joked that Manoj Kumar rubbed the Earth’s soil on his forehead with such vigour and frequency that he caused soil erosion whenever he shot at an outdoor location. In today’s times, seeking inspiration from Manoj, is a younger Kumar, Akshay. In Namaste London, Akshay Kumar ripped off Manoj Kumar’s Hai Preet Jahaan Ki Reet Sadaa sequence from Purab Aur Paschim. In that film, Manoj had sermonised a smoky pub filled with firangs in London, on the virtues of being Indian. Akshay did the same in Namaste London.
That’s probably where the new patriotic Kumar was born. Not only has he associated with films that have a nationalistic fervour of late, but has also started to take the sentiment off screen with his social media videos — be it about the Bengaluru molestation on New Years’ Eve or the Republic Day pledge to fund families of martyrs. A director, who has known Akshay closely in the past, comments, “This image of the God-fearing, country-loving, sporty patriot was always his aim. When he was doing Dharmesh Darshan’s Dhadkan, he insisted that his character of the devoted husband be modeled on Lord Ram.” Manoj Kumar, however, has little to say on the comparison. “I am glad that I am compared with someone as handsome and talented as Akshay,” he said.