Manoj Kumar is an actor-director who rose to stardom in the 1960s and is best known for his patriotic acting roles and films which earned him the moniker “Mr Bharat”. In his five-decade-long career, Manoj Kumar worked in a number of blockbuster films like Upkar (1967), Purab Aur Paschim (1970), Woh Kaun Thi (1964), Himalaya Ki God Mein (1965) and Roti Kapda Aur Makaan (1974). Born Harikishan Giri Goswami in 1937 in Abbottabad, which is now in Pakistan, Manoj Kumar was just 10 years old when his family was forced to migrate to India. The horrific memories of Partition left a lasting impression on the young boy who grew up to make a number of films on national identity, war, and other patriotic themes. After he graduated from Delhi's Hindu College, Harikishan's interest in films brought him to Bombay with the hope of joining Hindi films as a hero. Inspired by the prolific star Dilip Kumar's histrionics and his rendition of the character Manoj in Shabnam (1949), the young man chose Manoj Kumar as his professional name. Manoj Kumar's acting debut in Fashion (1957) did not make much of an impact. He got his first leading role three years later with Kaanch Ki Gudia (1960) opposite Sayeeda Khan. Soon Manoj Kumar was working with well-known filmmakers within the Hindi film industry and delivered many hits such as Hariyali Aur Raasta (1962), Woh Kaun Thi (1964), and Himalaya Ki God Mein (1965). In the mid-1960s, Manoj Kumar worked in his first patriotic film Shaheed (1965), based on the revolutionary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh. Manoj Kumar's performance was highly appreciated and made a considerable impact on audiences, so much so that Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, in the aftermath of the India-Pakistan war of 1965, urged him to make a film exemplifying the popular slogan of the time, 'Jai Jawan Jai Kisan' (Hail the soldier, hail the farmer). Manoj Kumar used the idea to make his directorial debut with the film Upkar (1967) in which he fused the roles of a soldier and a farmer as India's true progeny. The film became a hit and won him his first Filmfare award as director. In the same vein, he made his next patriotic venture in Purab aur Paschim (1970) which consolidated his screen persona as the 'son of India'. In the mid-1970s, Manoj Kumar had three blockbuster hits one after the other: Roti Kapda Aur Makaan (1974), Sanyasi (1975), and Dus Numbri (1976). Later, Manoj Kumar went on to direct his idol, Dilip Kumar, in a tale of Indian independence in Kranti (1981). This was also his last successful film. Soon, his career began to recede and he delivered a number of flops such as Clerk (1989) and Jai Hind (1999). His last appearance as an actor was in the film Maidan-E-Jung (1995). Manoj Kumar was bestowed the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. He was also awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1992.
Since 2004, Manoj Kumar has been a member of the political party, Shiv Sena.