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By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The director of the most successful Punjabi film ever Shaheed-e-Mohabbat Buta Singh (remade by Anil Sharma as Gadar) is no more. Divya Dutta who worked in four back-to-back feature films with Manoj and was exceptionally close to the young 36-year old director, is inconsolable. "His end was so sudden, so shocking. On the afternoon of 22nd October Manoj and I were planning a surprise birthday party for Gurdas Maan's wife Manjit(who has produced all of Punj's films). Half an hour later Manjit called to say Manoj was no more. He died of a massive cardiac arrest. For me it was like an instant replay of my father's death. He died at the age of 26 of a cardiac arrest when I was just a child."
Divya who played stellar roles in Punj's Shaheed-e-Mohabbat (Punjabi), Zindagi Khubsoorat Hai (Hindi), Des Hoya Pardes (Punjabi) and Waris Shah Ishq Da Waris (Punjabi) can't believe her dear friend is gone. "He was a serious caring sort of guy. The only time I've seen him play a prank was when he made Sushant Singh do a scene with the camera switched off for Waris Shah. Last week all of us-Gurdas Maan, his wife Manjit, Manoj and I were in the States promoting Waris Shah. Over there I introduced him to all the games that I used to play as a child. He was so happy, so childlike. Manoj treated me with such tender care. On the flight back from the US I dozed off with my reading glasses. He quietly removed my glasses, put a blanket on me...Gawd how heartbreaking it was to see him so still knowing that he would never wake up again. He has an old 80-plus mother. Who'll look after her?" Manoj was on the verge of starting a film for Tips and of course another one for his dear friends Gurdas Maan and wife Manjit. "Of course God had other plans," Divya says bitterly.
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