Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan, the epic series aired between 1987-1989 is our all time favourite. Everyone is so perfectly cast in their roles that we love each and every artist who was part of it. Last year after we re-watched Ramayan for the umpteenth time, we could not help but wonder where most of the artists of our favourite show have been. We searched the net, found bits of information about some and sadly almost nothing about some others like the fantastic Sanjay Jog (संजय ज़ोग). We continued our search till one day we came across Senior Journalist Anand Bhisey’s blog “Bharat Darshan” (Sanjay Jog’s interview taken in 1988). In its comments section we got to know that he is no more.
This came to us as a shock since we had not read or heard about it before. It saddens us that an artist we admire so much, who gave us cinematic moments to cherish forever was gone, gone long ago and we were totally unaware, just wondering where he had been all this while. In the past 24 years since its original airing, we know of at least 8 members part of Ramayan who have sadly, passed away – Ramanand Sagar (the maker himself), Jayshree Gadkar (Mata Kaushalya), Rajnibala (Mata Sumitra), Vijay Arora (Indrajeet / Meghnad), Lalita Pawar (Manthara), Urmila Bhatt (Maharani Sunaina, Sita ji’s mother), Nalin Dave (Kumbhkarn) and now Sanjay Jog (Bharat). This blog is to tell Sanjay Sir, wherever he is, that we always remember him, admire him and his work will always be special for us.
Sanjay Jog, a brilliant actor, expressive eyes, even as I write this name I can see ‘Bharat’ – tear-eyed looking at Shri Ram with hope that he will return to Ayodhya or expressing pain, embarrassment, guilt n anger all at same time while confronting Mata Kaikeyi or the smiles n joy when he with Shatrughna are describing their brother’s valour at ‘Sita Swayamvar’ to their parents. The list is long. He seemed to have lived his part, giving it his all. He became synonymous with Bharat. That one act is engraved in our minds and hearts.
Apart from Ramayan, Sir has acted in many Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati Films. We like his portrayal as ‘Ramesh Deshmukh‘ in the Marathi film, ‘Navri Mile Navryala‘ (1984) the most.
The following interview was published in the Gujarati Edition of the Magazine “G” in its July 1988 Issue. This interview gives us details about how Sir started his acting career, how he got the role of Bharat, etc. Since this interview was in Gujarati, a language we are not completely familiar with, this is our best effort at its translation.
SANJAY JOG : ‘Lakshman has length while Bharat has depth‘
Sanjay Jog, who has proved his mettle with his sensitive portrayal as Bharat in Ramayan, is a popular name in Marathi films and theatre. At the very beginning of the interview he said “After Shri Ram and Ravan the most important character in ‘Ramayan’ is that of Bharat. Ramanand Sagar auditioned me for Lakshman, Bharat and Meghnad but when he chose me for portraying Bharat, I was ecstatic“.
He adds further, “Lakshman’s character is important for its length. Also among all the brothers he is always remembered for the ideal Ram-Lakshman pairing. But people tend to forget that when it comes to duty and sacrifice for a brother, the pair of Ram-Bharat is remembered. No doubt if I had enacted the role of Lakshman I would have got more screen time but then I would have missed on the opportunity of working in the sensitive scenes as Bharat.” He is very happy portraying Bharat.
In the emotional sacrifice scenes of Ramayan, Sanjay Jog has impressed the viewers with his ability to portray repentance through his expressive teary light-brown eyes.
Born on 24th September, 1955 in Nagpur, Maharashtra, Sanjay spent his childhood in Pune and adolescence back in Nagpur where he completed his 10th grade.
When did you come to Bombay?
I did not come here to become a hero. I came here to study; I have completed my B.Sc. here from Elphinstone College.
How did your acting career take off?
Since I was interested in acting, I did an acting course in Filmalaya Studio after collage. In the mean time I got a leading role in the Marathi Film ‘Sapla (सापळा)’. Anupama was the leading lady and the very famous, Ramesh Deo was playing the Villain opposite me. ‘Sapla (सापळा)’ did not have a decent run. In depression, I returned to Nagpur and dedicated myself to farming. I came back to Bombay for some farming related work and landed with an offer to act in a multi-starrer Marathi Film called ‘Jidd (जिद्द)’. This film had every possible famous name in Marathi Cinema in its cast. I had the leading role. The film was a big hit and I made a place for myself. Since then I have worked in about 28-30 Marathi films as the leading man. Among these ‘Gondhalat Gondhal (गोंधळात गोंधळ)’, ‘Maay Baap (माय बाप)’, ‘Khara Kadhi Sangu Naye (खर कधी सांगू नये)’, ‘Dista Tasa Nasta (दिसतं तसं नसतं)’, ‘Navri Mile Navryala (नवरी मिळे नवर्याला)’ and ‘Sage Soyre (सगे सोयरे) ‘ are noteworthy.
Apart from Marathi have you worked in other languages?
I have done 2-3 Gujarati films among which ‘Dikri Chali Sasariye (1985)’ was very successful. In this film I played an anti-hero.
My first Hindi film ‘Jigarwala (जिगरवाला)’ (Anil Kapoor-Tina Munim) is yet to release where I play the parallel hero’s role. Apart from this ‘Apna Ghar (अपना घर)’, ‘Humshakal (हमशकल)’, ‘Muthbhed (मुठभेड)’ are worth mentioning.
Tell us about any Hindi serial you acted in before or after Ramayan.
I have not worked in any other serial apart from Ramayan till now.
How did you land a role in Ramayan?
I played the role of Abhimanyu in a Gujarati Film called ‘Maya Bazar (माया बज़ार)’. Gopal dada was the makeup man of this film. He was also handling the make-up department for Ramayan. He suggested that I should meet Papaji (Ramanand Sagar). Later on meeting Papaji, he put in a good word for me. Papaji had also seen my pictures in Abhimanyu’s getup.
Don’t you think after doing the role of ‘Bharat’ in Ramayan your image will be limited to doing sentimental roles?
No, I was never scared about being stuck in an image. Because basically I am a theater artist. On stage, I have played all kind of roles – Hero, Side-Hero, Villian, Supporting Character, Comedian; this has increased my self-confidence. You talk about image, in complete contrast to the character of Bharat I have played in Ramayan, I play a Greedy Luxuriant brother in Kalpatru directed Hindi film ‘Apna Ghar (अपना घर)’. He throws his Mother, Brother and Bhabhi out of the house. If I was typecast by the image of Bharat’s character would I get opportunities to play such different-varied characters? Even in the past I was never concerned about image. Though known as a hero in Marathi films, I enacted the villain’s part in a film called ‘Aavhaan (आव्हान)’ because I really liked the part. The hero of that film was Nana Patekar.
What would you like to say about ‘Ramayan’?
It’s a nice series, it gives us something to learn, something to understand. It’s a reflection of our ancient culture.
It is being said that Papaji has dragged the serial unnecessarily, what is your opinion?
In the serial Papaji has presented only what is there in Ramayan. Yes, sometimes some sequences are shown in depth, but that only increases our knowledge about Ramayan. The common man is watching it with interest and it does not seem like they are getting bored. It certainly is a bit disheartening that the series gets over on 31st July. People are eager to see sequences involving Luv-Kush.
What are your future plans?
I have a Poultry farm and some land in Pune. While taking care of them, I wish to continue doing films in whatever good work I am offered.
The following interview was published in the English Daily, The Hitavada (Nagpur Edition) on 1st Dec, 1988. This interview gives a glimpse of the kind of person Sanjay Sir was – Free, Frank and Fearless. He comes across as a man of strong likes and dislikes, someone who spoke his mind and had well-defined opinions.
Hitavada captures a glimpse of Sanjay Jog
Free, frank and fearless, that’s Sanjay Jog, ‘Bharat’ of Ramayana serial, for you in a nutshell.
Handsome, suave, cat-eyed and fluent in five languages, Sanjay has not allowed fame and popularity to go to his head. Born and brought up in Nagpur, except for some part of his childhood spent in Pune, Sanjay migrated to Bombay to pursue a career in films. He obtained his diploma in acting from the Filmalaya Academy of Cine-arts and TV, and followed it up with a Diploma in Direction from the same institute.
He made his debut in films while still a ‘student’, with the Marathi film ‘Saaplaa’ (The Trap), which bombed at the box office. He then had a series of hits to his credit, including five golden jubilees and two diamond jubilees. He has acted in over 32 Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati films so far.
He had been offered the role of ‘Laxman’ in the Ramayan serial initially, but settled for that of ‘Bharat’ because of his busy schedule. Sanjay feels that only two characters in the epic are worthwhile from the acting point of view – Meghnad and Bharat – and has derived immense satisfaction portraying the latter.
Sanjay had aspired to become an Air Force pilot, but his parents forbade him after the family lost a number of relatives, who were in the services, during the ’71 Pak war. But that hardly seems to have made any difference, as he is now ‘flying high’ in terms of popularity.
Why did he choose to become an actor, and not a doctor or engineer? “Well, for one thing, I can’t report to anyone. I like to work independently, without someone else dictating terms. This wouldn’t have been possible had I gone for technical education.” He also confesses that he does not have the ‘brains’ needed for the medical profession. “Apart from that. I want to be known all over the world, and being a film and TV actor is the one way in which I can do it.“
He is very ‘down to earth’ in his outlook and has well-defined opinions. “I know that I will remain popular as long as the serial is being televised. When the fans mob me, it’s the Bharat that they want, not Sanjay Jog the person” he says.
He is contemptuous of the ‘involvement’ story and describes it as ‘bullshit’. “If I was really involved in my role, I would actually murder or rape the other person, as the script demands. A man can never forget his own self. Acting is purely mechanical. Acting is as easy as falling off a log“. He quotes, “And anyone who can react to a situation without being camera-conscious, can act. Being conversant with the technical aspects of film making helps in the sense that the crew is happy with you. I don’t have to be cued for my movements, since I know when the camera will zoom in or pan away.“
Sanjay describes himself as ‘super-superstitious’. He is very religious minded, and prays regularly. When asked whether he would have done Bharat’s role had he been a ‘nastik’, he shoots back, “Why not?” He adds, “Acting is my profession, and I’m being paid for the role. The role one plays, is only an image, similar to a mirror image of oneself. Your prejudices and beliefs should not affect the roles you do. I would prefer to play the villain“, Sanjay says. Why? “Because it offers a better opportunity to display your acting capabilities, as you are not a villain in real life“.
He also has his priorities fixed. “I am financially comfortable and can afford my present lifestyle for my whole life. But I want to act for a few more years, and then try my hand at direction“.
Having picked up Gujarati and Punjabi from his friends in Bombay, why hasn’t he acted in Punjabi films so far, when he has done a few Gujarati films? “A hero’s concept for the Punjabi film makers is a tall, well-built man, which I am not. I don’t want to act in a Punjabi film and fail. Heroes in Marathi films were also hefty and well-built a few years ago. However, over the years, the men who play the lead have shrunk in size. I am waiting for this to happen in Punjabi films“.
His dislikes are stronger than his likes. “If I don’t get a thing I love, I don’t care much. But if I see something I hate, I will get it removed, no mater what it costs me“.
“I am still very fond of theatre, but can’t get involved for lack of time. But I will do a role if it is monetarily as well as creatively satisfying. The same goes for my film roles, too“.
The recent spotlight has not affected his lifestyle a wee bit, and he is neither elated nor irritated by the attention he gets. “I still eat the same food, smoke, drink and meet my friends“.
His Hindi film “Jigarwala” is due to be released shortly and seven more are on the floor, five of them with the same director. And he will try his hand at direction only in 1990.
“I don’t believe in giving ‘messages’ for my fans. I’m just a normal human being, no supernatural“. But then, people can learn a lot from his motto, ‘live and let live‘.
(The Hitavada, Nagpur, December 1, 1988)
Selected Filmography, Marathi – Sapla, Jidd, Kunkavacha Tila (1981), Gondhalat Gondhal (1981), Aavhaan (1982), Mai Baap (1982), Savitrichi Sun (1982), Navri Mile Navryala (1984), Amhi Doghe Raja Rani (1986), Khara Kadhi Sangu Naye (1987), Dista Tasa Nasta (1988). Hindi – Apna Ghar (1989), Jigarwala (1991), Humshakal (1992), Naseebwala (1992), Beta Ho To Aisa (1994). Gujarati – Maya Bazar (1984), Dikri Chali Sasariye (1985). Sir has been part of many more films, we still trying to find the missing names. Apart from films Sir had acted it many plays, one of them being the cult classic Marathi play ‘Vastraharan‘. This play has been staged 5000 times since its first show held on 16 Feb, 1980. Sir was part of this play for its 800th show where he played Shakuni Mama.
‘Beta Ho To Aisa (1994)’ was possibly his last release. Sanjay Sir was unwell, battling a liver ailment. On 27th Nov, 1995, he lost the battle due to liver failure. He was just 40 when he bid his final adieu to the world. Its been about 16 years since, when the industry lost one of its talented actors and we our beloved ‘Bharat’.
Even after searching for a long time we could not find any information about Sanjay Sir’s family. Just as we were about to finalise the content for this blog, we chanced upon a young man’s interview. This young man, a known face in Marathi Films and TV Series was Ranjeet Jog, Sanjay Sir’s son!!! Our joy knew no bounds, we finally got to know about Sir’s family.
Sanjay Sir was married to Neeta, a lawyer’s daughter (a lawyer herself) from Nagpur. The couple is blessed with two children – Ranjeet and Natasha (now married). Ranjeet was in his 10th grade when Sanjay Sir passed away. While coping with the huge loss, Neeta ji moved to Nagpur with her kids. She started practicing law and has raised her children successfully against all odds.
Ranjeet Jog with his mother, Neeta Jog
In Ranjeet’s face (especially in the picture above) we see a glimpse of the actor we admire so much. We are so glad to see him take his father’s legacy forward. Whatever we have read about him so far, everyone is all praises for his talent and conduct. We wish Neeta ji, Ranjeet and Natasha the very best in life, good health and great success. Rest in peace Sanjay Sir. You continue to live in the hearts of your admirers through your performances.
– Maitri Manthan
* We would like to thank Ashok Shekhar, Senior Journalist Anand Bhisey, Author Harish Raghuwanshi, India-Forums member Lola and FB Fanpage ‘Bandh Reshamache – Star Gappa‘ for providing information and pictures for this blog.
* The information provided in this blog is to the best of our knowledge, if any discrepancies are found please let us know. Thank you.