Tribute from one great actor to another
“Its a celebration for the greatest, on the eve of his birthday. He will turn 89 tomorrow, the 11th of December. Exactly 20 years older to me by birth and exactly 2000 years ahead of me in our common vocation. He is my idol and has been since the day I first saw his work. He has been an inspiration not just for me but I am certain to thousands of those that have ever dreamt of facing a camera for the art form called cinema. His presence his aura and his dedication to film shall be documented as ‘before Dilip Kumar and after Dilip Kumar’. He set fresh norms of performance in his acts of excellence, faultless and beyond any kind of improvement. His greatest quality was his connect with those that stood before him in the frame to act. His strength of delivery and his strength of connect with any character he portrayed has been unique and unsurpassable. On the eve of his birthday, I wish him good health and a long life of peace and happiness. He was the best and still is. Dilip Kumar, Yusuf Khan, Dilip Saheb … happy birthday !!”
“I entered his spacious home after decades. After minor cosmetic changes, it has remained the same. My visits to his place have been limited, but eventful on each occasion. A meeting of the artists and the film fraternity, a midnight informal call, a casual trip to see his excellent skills at badminton, or a shoot at his luxurious lawns during the making of ‘Zameer’ with his wife and my co star Saira ji, Saira Banu ! All have been clearly etched in my mind. And why not ? He was the one actor that we as young students in University broke boundaries and hostel rules to go see his films night after night. His early films had been historic in content and repute – Aan and Shaheed – ones that I still remember seeing in the darkness of cinema halls with the barest minimum facility and comfort. For 4 annas, 25 paise, a quarter of a rupee, we would sit on wooden benches right up in front in the theaters and marvel at what our hero would enact. And among the many that we saw and enjoyed, it was for me always a Dilip Kumar that stood out. Different and distinguished. And always without fault.
And then one day I stood along with him on the sands of Juhu as the camera rolled to give the mahurat shot for ‘Shakti’, the only film that we worked together in. Our first shooting scene in the film was in a jail sequence, where the police official but also my Father in film comes to visit me and tries to convince me that I was taking a wrong path in life and I disagree. Tough to stand in front of one whom you have admired for ages, and disagree with. But it happened and it kept happening day after day, till the film was complete. There were electric moments between him and me in the script, written by that incredible team of writers Salim – Javed, and each moment was filled with the distinction of great and impressive drama.
The film completed its work during the same time when I was injured during ‘Coolie’ and released when I was still recovering from my ailment. The final print was shown to me on a make shift theater put up in Prateeksha, for I was still not well enough to move out of the house. Did I ever imagine many years ago, as I sat in a rather ill equipped theater in a corner of Kathmandu in Nepal, around 1954, that I would one day share the same screen space with this tremendous talent that would explode in front of me. Never ! And it still remains a illusion in my life to have actually been a part of a project which was headed by this thespian ! God has been kind, very kind !!”Aan Amitabh Bachchan Coolie Dilip Kumar Salim-Javed Shaheed Shakti