Mumbai: Veteran actor Manoj Kumar, nicknamed Bharat Kumar, is very happy to see of two of today's superstars -- Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan -- carrying forward the work that he started 45 years ago.
While Akshay is doing what Manoj, now 81, describes as the kind of cinema he believes in -- cinema that changes society, Salman is doing a film called "Bharat", the character that Manoj patented by playing the hero of that name in the 1970s' classics "Upkar", "Purab Aur Paschim" and "Roti Kapda Aur Makaan".
The veteran actor shrugs off the compliments.
"It's not as if I had any copyright claims over the name Bharat. Anyone and everyone is Bharat. I am happy that superstars like Salman and Akshay are playing heroes who can bring about a social awakening, a new dawn, naya Bharat," Manoj said.
In fact, in the late 1970s, Manoj wanted to make a film titled "Naya Bharat" featuring him with Rajesh Khanna.
Today, he feels "Naya Bharat" can be made with Salman and Akshay.
"If you are sincere to your work, and if you are sincere in your desire to bring about change in society, the audience will embrace your efforts. I see an honesty in Salman and Akshay's work that cannot go unrewarded," said the veteran, who wants to direct another film soon.
"I want to die with my chappals on. I plan to get back to direction at the earliest," he said.