A veteran actor, Sanjeev Kumar started his acting career with IPTA in Mumbai and moved on to act with the Indian National Theatre. Even as a young actor of 22, Sanjeev Kumar did not shy away from playing characters that were much older than he was, as he played the role of a 60-year-old in the play Damru directed by AK Hangal, and an old man in the adaptation of Arthur Miller`s All My Sons.
His debut film was Hum Hindustani (1960) where he played a small role and it was not until 1965 that he debuted as the lead actor with the movie Nishan. He even bagged the opportunity to act with superstar Dilip Kumar in the 1968 film Sangharsh. However, it was Khilona (1970)
that played a pivotal role in him gaining national recognition and won him a Filmfare award for Best Actor in 1971 and also the BFJA Best Actor award in 1974.
Apart from Hindi films, he also starred in Gujarati films which included Kalapi (1966) and Mare Javun Pele Par (1968) and also acted in various regional films in Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Sindhi Although his roles were quite serious, he did not limit himself to them and took on comic roles in movies like Seeta Aur Geeta, Biwi O Biwi (1981), Pati, Patni Aur Woh (1978), Angoor (1982) and Hero (1983), and was widely praised for his impeccable comic timing. His stellar career consisted of Sholay
for which he was hailed as a great actor and numerous roles as supporting actor in films like Zabardast, Hero and Silsila (1981)
. He was also a recipient of the National Film Award for Dastak and Koshish.