Upkar (transl. Favour ) is a 1967 Indian Hindi film directed by Manoj Kumar. The film held the top spot at the box office in 1967. It was Manoj Kumar's directorial debut film. Then India's prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri suggested Kumar make a film based on our farmers and soldiers. It was the highest-grossing movie of the year. It is considered a classic film.
The film is based on the backdrop of a war of 1965, it praised the village life, farmers' and soldiers' contributions to the nation. It was praised for its story, photography, songs, lyrics, and acting.
The movie also stars Asha Parekh as a doctor promoting family planning, Kamini Kaushal, and Pran in his first positive character role. Madan Puri played the main villain with ease, full ability, and command. The film won several major awards.[citation needed ]
Manoj Kumar plays a village man 'Bharat', who sacrifices everything to get his brother educated. His brother, Puran, goes to study in the city and gets attracted to the high society lifestyle. He comes back to the village but is a selfish man wanting his share of the property. Bharat is unwilling to divide the property and transfers the full property land to Puran's son to prevent Puran from selling the land.
But, when the war of 1965 between India and Pakistan breaks out, Bharat goes to the war front; while his selfish brother, with the help of his greedy uncle Charandas and some partners, tries to gain profit by hoarding and black marketing grains in the market. But later Puran discovers Charandas' plan to separate Puran from Bharat and ridden with guilt and shame, surrenders to the police.
Bharat fights bravely in the war but is captured by the enemy. He later manages to escape but is badly injured and loses both his hands. In the end, Bharat returns as a war hero, his brother apologizes and unites & both brothers again start to live in the village, working hard in the fields as farmers.
Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri praised his earlier film Shaheed and enthused Manoj Kumar to make a film on the Jai Jawan Jai Kisan slogan. The slogan shaped into Manoj Kumar's official debut as a director for Upkar, where he believably played both a jawan (transl. Soldier ) and a kisan. A huge hit, Upkar made Manoj an authority on screen patriotism.
According to an interview of Manoj Kumar, Rajesh Khanna was originally signed for the film, but before the shooting kicked off he won the All India Talent Contest organised by United Producers and Filmfare and thus had to withdraw. Prem Chopra replaced him.
Most parts of the movie were shot in Atali village near Ballabgarh (Haryana) and Ghevra Village near Bawana, Delhi. The Shiv Temple shown in the film is located in Ghevra, including the songs "Kasme Vaade" and "Mere Desh Ki Dharti", then Manoj Kumar purchased a Bagh (property) in that area named Vishal Bagh on Main Bawana Road at Narela, Delhi NCT.
The principal photography happened at Nangal Thakran village of Delhi state. It is present on North East side of New Delhi. The film unit took bullock carts, ploughs from the villagers for filming, house of the village are used for Bharat (Manoj Kumar) house. The cast and production used to arrive at morning for filming and used to return to Delhi at night. They lived in the village during filming of night sequences. The field of one of the resident of village is used as of Bharat, where "Mere Desh Ki Dharti " song was filmed. Some portions are filmed in Rajkamal Kala-mandir studio, Kamal studio, Gurudatt studio and Mehaboob studio.
The film's music was given by Kalyanji Anandji. Lyrics for Upkar were penned by Qamar Jalalabadi, Indeevar, Gulshan Bawra, and Sitaram Dhawan. The song, "Mere Desh Ki Dharti Sona Ugle Ugle Heere Moti, Mere Desh Ki Dharti", sung by Mahendra Kapoor was a chartbuster.
The songs of Upkar became hit. Still the song "Mere Desh Ki Dharti" (transl. Land of my country ) is played during Republic day and Independence day of India.
Many years later, Manoj Kumar said that one of the most beautiful screen images that stuck in his mind was a "half-lit Asha Parekh" in this film.
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Best Supporting Actor
Best Playback Singer - Male
National Film Awards, India
National Film Award
Best Playback Singer Male