Life lessons from Dilip Kumar for a 90s kid. On Wednesday evening, our family of six gathered together for a weekday soiree in front of a 14″ black and white Sonodyne TV, eagerly waiting for Chitrahar to start at Doordarshan. After a few songs, listening to the guitar and birds chirping, my father, a lover of Hindi films, preached: They dance in three different areas to get your attention for a four-minute song.
Now, an actor who can complete the entire song just by picking leaves from a branch appears.
And believe me. You will never know ki Gana kab khatam ho Gaya (at the end of the song).” That’s how Dilip Kumar was introduced to me through Salil Chowdhury’s melodious Dil Tadap Tadap Ke song in Bimal Roy’s classic Madhumati (1958). For a kid growing up in the early ’90s who wasn’t hungry for Amitabh Bachchan’s stardom and was still struggling to accept Aamir Khan as his rabbi’s love, it was dinnertime to discover the charismatic actors of the black and white era.
In a home where a mother, fascinated by Rajesh Khanna, named her firstborn son, Amitabh Bachchan was Amitabh and Rajendra Kumar was “Jubilee” Kumar. Dilip Kumar has always been Dilip Saab. Dilip Kumar was always a “gentleman”, even when he playfully danced with the gaon ki Goris of the gang in Nain Lad Jaiye Ki Manwa Ma Kasak Hoibey Kahi in Ganga Jamuna (1961) as gaon ka Chhora.
A life that imitates art and art that imitates life are never mutually exclusive, and we never knew when the two lines became blurred while watching Dilip Kumar. So my father wants his children to learn the ethic of life through movies, and he always told us, “Be like Dilip Saab, not Amita.” His bluntness, his character, his composure, even his very plain-looking hairstyle had to be absorbed.
As a teenager, seeing occasional explosions when a family of four revolted, my father had a Dilip Kumar scene we always followed when we revolted. A scene from the 1960 masterpiece Mughal-e-Azam. Salim, played by Dilip Kumar, is immobilized as he confronts his father Akbar the Great, played by the legendary Prithiviraj Kapoor, for the love of his life. His hands do not move, but his voice is firm. It could have been a cinematic scene, but Dilip Kumar and director K Asif promoted it as a textbook on familial maria das.
In Bimal Roy’s Devdas (1955), Dilip Kumar earned the title of ‘King of Tragedy’ by making a feudal, arrogant, whining lover, a tragic hero. After angering her boldness and uneasily (helpless) avatar in the scene where she beats her childhood love Paro, played by Suutra Sen in the film, Dilip Kumarman portrays the horrific side of Devdas’ reviled lover character in his deeply wounded voice and wet eyes as he bandaged Faro’s bloodstained forehead with a piece of cloth torn from the silk kurta.
At the same time, as a Tangela in BR Chopra’s Naya Daur (1957), a socialist critique of Nehru’s industrialization policies, he fascinated us when we saw him sing and dance with the beautiful Vyjayanthimala in OP Nayyar’s sweet Ude Jab Zulfein Teri. And a lot of people like me couldn’t help but look like him in the ’90s while we were on winter break in our village again. again is oddly similar to the background of the song. Hanging kerosene lanterns such as mud house, same mud tile Kapra.
And the story of Dilip Kumar’s off-screen life we got to know his father over the weekend over tea and Chanachur drinking, reading a contemporaneous interview in a magazine or watching Rangoli at Doordarshan hosted by Sharmila Tagore. There were many Qissas. Used to share beautiful anecdotes from last year’s filmi Duniya.
One such Kissa was about the 1951 mega-hit Deedar. In this film, Dilip Kumar plays a blind man who gains sight to blind himself for the sake of his love. The Kissa is that he had spent hours observing the blind beggars outside the Mahalaxmi Theater in Bombay because he felt that by then the actors were portraying blind people with their eyes closed. Not true in real life. He performed the role with his eyes wide open and the audience understood that Chamu couldn’t see.
Then there was his Qissa, discovering new talent in the industry.
While watching Devdas’ climax, Dilip Kumar was impressed with the scene in the furnace of a train engine burning as Devdas sips his whiskey. He asked Bimal Roy. Who did the video editing? Roy told him the film was edited by a young man named Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Dilip Kumar met Hirsh Kesh, who was his age and encouraged him to make the film.
Hrishikesh said he had a story but didn’t know who would do it. One day, Hrishikesh invited Dilip Kumar to an empty apartment and showed him an empty wall. Dilip Kumar asked a curious question. What is this sign on the wall? Hrishikesh replied: They are the vestiges of all the tenants who lived here. They leave, but some of their Nishanyaniyas are forever etched into this wall.
Then Hrishikesh continued Musafir’s story to Dilip Kumar. Two years later (1957) big-name movies including Dilip Kumar were released, and the film industry won directors who brought middle-class life in the ’70s to the screens with films like Anand, Chupke Chup, and Goodie. We’ve been told that Dilip Kumar never negotiated for money. Producer Qissa asks him to shoot a movie.
He signed the contract.
A few months later, the producer invited Dilip Kumar to Eid lunch. When he started to leave after luncheon, the producer handed him an envelope named Eidi. On the way home, Dilip Kumar mysteriously opened the envelope and found a check for 10,000 rupees. He ran straight to the producer’s house and asked Adi to return the large check.
The producers apologized to Yusuf Saab and Sharminda Toaf Humain Ka Rahain Hai. Aapne ye nahin bataya tha ki aapko 30,000 rupaiye milte hain, ek film ke liye. Humein Pata Nahi Tha, Aur Aapse 20,000 Rupaiye Ke contract signing Karwariya. Ye 10,000 Rupaiye fee Maan Ke Rakh Lijiye (I’m a shy person. I didn’t say that I usually get 30,000 rupees per film. I didn’t know, so I made the contract for 20,000 rupees. Please take this Rs 10,000 as part of the fee)”
Such Kisa is narrated like a Panchatantra story on a Sunday afternoon, telling how morally superior people of the past were. We’ve never seen the two legends Dilip Kumar and Guru Dutt work together. The two almost made a movie. It was Pyaasa that Guru Dutt initially proposed to Dilip Kumar. However, he turned it down because playing a tragic role affected him, and Pyaasa’s story is closer to Devdas.
Even in his 60s, Dilip Kumar stole the scene with acting instead of a script when collaborating with young stars like Shakti’s Amitabh Bachchan and Mashaal’s Anil Kapoor. Who can forget the trauma of being homeless on an empty street on a drenched Mumbai night in Marshall (1984) and asking for help?
We don’t know how he has felt in recent years. A man born as Yusuf Khan in Peshawar, India at the time, known throughout the subcontinent as Dilip Kumar. A man who heals two divided countries with a movie that doesn’t matter if Dilip Kumar is more Yusuf or less Dilip or Dilip is more Yusuf. In a world where hatred of all kinds grows, we can always cling to one conversation from Mughal-e-Azam.
Magar is badalti hui duniya mein mohabbat jis insaan ka daaman thaam leti hai, wo insaan nahi badalta. (Luck may change, the world may change, the history of a country may change, and the emperor may change. But in this changing world, those who are touched by love do not change.) Dilip Saab never changed because she was obsessed with love until “Zindabad, Zindabad, Ae Mohabbat Zindabad!”