Never-ending innings

Never-ending innings

cinematic genius

Never-ending innings

tragedy king Dilip Kumar

Though unwell, he politely sits for an interview. A sultry summer evening is enlivened by Dilip Kumar’s conversation over a cup of green tea and biscuits at his Pali Hill residence.
When asked whether his latest biography will be repetitive or not, he answers, “I never believe in and allow repetitions. My earlier biographies by Vinita Lamba, Sanjit Nawrekar and Lord Meghnad Desai are well written but do not carry certain rare aspects of my life. All these, which include my childhood at Peshawar, family fruit business, the pains of partition and my career form ingredients of the present biography, which I am sure will make for an interesting read. I have not hidden facts about myself, neither eulogised Dilip Kumar. It is straight from my heart.”

Speaking about his career, one cannot forget the contribution of directors like Amiya Chakrabarty, Nitin Bose, Bimal Ray and Tapan Sinha. Speaking about Bimal Ray, Dilip Kumar smiles, “I remember Bimalda very much as he was one of my true mentors. He, along with script writer Nabendu Ghosh formed a top level creative duo. I worked with them in Devdas and Yahudi. Both films depicted two sides of my acting abilities —  the former one demanded a pure method while the latter had touches of the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Arts mingled with spontaneity. Bimalda was not just a director, he was a visionary. To him, his subject and not his actors, was of prime importance.”

Amongst the grand trio of Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar was the most gifted actor and nationally known as the ‘tragedy king’. Then how did he manage to perform swashbuckling characters and comedy equally well? He replies after a pause, “I was getting bored performing tragedy. It took a heavy toll on my mental state and medical practitioners advised me to attempt lighthearted films for a change. For films like Aan, Azad and comedies like Kohinoor and Ram Aur Shyam, I adopted a natural design which fitted with my roles. Performing comedy requires an appropriate sense of timing which method acting is unable to provide. Had I not attempted a wide variety of characters, I would have never been remembered.”

Dilip Kumar is respected for his trend setting performances in Shaheed, Andaz, Daag, Footpath and Ganga Jumna. He has done memorable work in Bengali films like Paari,  and Sagina Mahato, which is remembered as Dilip Kumar’s most haunting performance. How did he deliver his lines in Bengali so effectively?

He puts two fingers of his right arm on his eyes in traditional style and answers, “Any actor has to feel the essence of the language in which his film is being made. If his voice is dubbed then he loses a lot of points in creativity. I was fascinated by the language of Tagore and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, so I took it up as a challenge to learn and deliver my dialogues in Bengali.”

Does he have any regrets about his grand career?  Dilip Kumar laughs, “A creative soul can never be satisfied. Yes, I did not have the fortune of  working with the great Satyajit Ray; I did not take up Omar Sharif’s character of Ali in Lawrence of Arabia. I was criticised for such a step but I don’t mind it as I have no hesitations in admitting that Omar Sharif was far more brilliant than any actor as Ali in Lawrence of Arabia.”