Dilip Kumar: The Substance and The Shadow – An Autobiography – as narrated to Udayatara Nayar
Hardback | 230 x 150 | 450pages | ISBN 9789381398869
Publishers: Hay House India
We have read the first three of the four parts – The Seeds of a Flight of a Fruit Merchant’s Son, Yousuf Khan, The Substance, To The Legendary Thespian Dilip Kumar, The Shadow, First and Second Innings at the Hindi Film Cinema and Marriage and Life with Saira Banu – on 5 February. 19 February and 5 March 2015, respectively. We carry on to the concluding part….
Dilip Kumar did not speak about his achievements and social service, as his wont, while narrating this autobiography. Hence this section explores insights into the man and his working style, through the personal and professional experiences of actors, directors, eminent friends, relatives and others who have had occasions to come into contact with him.
We glance through the representative ones of these here:
Raihan Ahmed – Saira Banu’s brother Sultan’s son
‘Travelling with Yousuf Uncle is guaranteed fun and adventure…Road trips were the best as he would make us try all kinds of street food…He has the ability of blending with any age group… Kite flying with Yousuf Unlce is an experience only a few lucky people can mention… Few people know that he is a great magician and has a box full of tricks..
The first image that comes to mind.. is dignity.. He has entertained without ever having to resort to crudity…Dilip Kumar showed us how the subtext can be revealed, how to play against the emotion, how less is more and how simulated spontaneity can be as effective as real thing…
V. Babasaheb – A cinematographer by profession, who filmed Gunga Jumna
I knew it would be a great achievement in my track record if a sequence came alive on the way Dilip Saheb had visualized….He had calculated the speed of the train and the galloping of horses precisely..Saheb then explained to me he wanted the camera to be tied beneath door of the compartment to capture the hooves of the galloping horses raising dust as they advanced parallel to the running train. He strapped me to the floor of the doorway of the compartment in such a manner that I could operate it from that position and get the shots……..The scene I can never forget is Ganga’s death scene
He was going to take several rounds of the studio..running…in order to be out of breath… when he entered the house and gave the climax shot….I missed the initial timing..he was angry.. but he complied with.. a retake. He went through the whole gamut gain and with more intensity the second time and we canned the shot.
…No art in the entire universe can ever exist, flourish or even take birth without an ‘unconscious assimilation’ of influence that eventually propels it to its creation… I believe that what (Mr. Dilip Kumar) is what was and is, correct, right and the best…The history of Indian Cinema shall.. be ‘before Dilip Sahab’ and ‘after Dilip Sahab’.
Dilip Sahab has expertly used the eloquence of silence in some of his iconic performances in a way no actor before him had.
…(Dilip Kumar) would be equally concerned to raise funds for the needy artistes and workers; the first cheque always came from him. The Film Industry Welfare Trust and superannuation schemes for old, retired artistes were his initiatives..
Dilip Sahab is not a method actor as many artistes think. He is a spontaneous actor who draws from inner emotional reserves when he performs .. marvellous dramatic sense…He was extremely serious about his work; emotions just surfaced naturally when he was before the camera. In the final take, therefore, he invariably did what he felt was best..
Dilip Bhai was, and still is, a shy man. The only time I felt he was drawn to a co-star was when worked with Kamini Kushal… The only reason why Dilip Bhai did not attend the premiere of Mughal-e-Azam and even refused to see the movie at trial show was because (K.) Asif had betrayed his trust (when [his younger sister] Akhtar chose to marry a much-married [first marriage with Sitara Devi and second one with Nigar Sultana], man twice her age).
I had a subject…After hearing me out, he said nothing… on the fourth day..he smiled and told me the story had potential and he would consider working in it…people started asking me questions if what they heard was true.. the look on their faces would convey:”This is the end of your career.”.. he will make you sit somewhere outside the set and direct the film himself.. and by the time the movie is completed, you will have aged because he takes years to complete a film…. All through the making of Vidhaata (1982), Dilip Sahab paid great attention to my visualization of shots and cooperated to such an extent that the film was completed a month ahead of schedule…. I feel proud that I made three films (Vidhaata, Karma and Saudagar) with Dilip Sahab in the central role.
Dr. Shrikant Gokhale – personal physician (and a friend as well) for four decades
I have always seen the respect he gives to his admirers…It pains him when he sees street urchins and little girls who come and press their smiling faces against the car window at the traffic signals.. he gives generously… but they don’t know he is concerned and disturbed about their hapless condition.
…I was able to appreciate the Western actors and the refinement of their acting after I watched (Dilip Kumar’s) films. It began to crystallize in my understanding of the eloquence of the medium that a mere look or sheer silence can convey so much and so powerfully…
I am and always will be amazed by the layers of emotion he evoked in the viewer when, he, as Price Salim (in Mughal-e-Azam) simply sat in the royal durbar, saying nothing, and doing nothing as Anarkali performed the provocative Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya number.
…My father (Surinder Kapoor)..told me that Dilip Sahab never wasted his time in frivolous gossips.. he spent his time with writers and intellectually advanced people with whom he can make intelligent conversation and exchange meaningful thoughts… that Dulip Shab had more friends outside the industry than within because he disliked talking shop and never encouraged hangers-on….
Yousuf Uncle and papa (Raj Kapoor) shared an eternal fraternal relationship, which nobody could fathom or believe. They were in competition with each other as stars and yet they loved each other as though they were born to same parents…..We were filming Prem Rog(1982).I had to bring an intense expression of a despondent lover, and hard as I was trying, Raj Kapoor, the director, was not getting..what he wanted…he shouted at me..”Mujhe Yousf Chahiye”…When Yosuf Uncle was facing the brunt of Balasaheb Thackeray’s… objection to his receiving the Nishan-e-Imtiaz from the Pakistan Government. Yousuf Unlce said in an interview, “I miss my friend Raj today more than on any occasion. He could not let this agitation about me or any other artiste go unanswered.”
The greatest quality Dilip Sahab possesses is his ungrudging admiration for the achievements of others in the profession. In an interview [during the shooting of Kranti (1981)], he was giving the example of Raj Kapoor as an inspiration for the generations of film aspirants to look up to.
…When (Dilip Bhai) found out that I am a Maharshtrian is something that I cherish because it made me seek the perfection I then lacked in my Hindi and Urdu diction, he very truthfully said that singers who were not conversant with Urdu language invariably tripped in pronunciation of the words derived from the language and spoiled the listening pleasure of those who enjoyed the lyric as much as the melody….So, in the first meeting, Yousuf Bhai gave a gift unknowingly and unhesitantly…Salil Chuadhary gave an opportunity to sing a duet with Yousuf Bhai for Musafir (1947) – Lagi Nahi Chhute – and it was a memorable experience to observe the pains he took to sing faultlessly.
Ram Mukherjee – Director of the film Leader
Dilip Sahab’s love for his fans is something no star of his time or later could match. He says : “When an unfamiliar had claps mine and I feel the warmth of genuine adulation that clasp I feel a deep sense of reward for all the hard work I put in for a performance which no award can give me….”..If you watch Leader today you will find some of the lines spoken by Dilip Sahab so relevant to the present political climate.
Veera Rao – a well-known social service personality
When Dilip Sahab took over as the chairman of NAB, the great challenge was to generate funds…It did not take Dilip Sahab more than a minute to welcome the idea ..of NAB train in which people would travel with Dilip Kumar… for the ten years the train ran.. Dilip Sahab never let (the project) down…..At one large event for school children at the Brabourne Stadium … Dilip Sahab was alone was not without sunglasses… (when asked) why he never shielded his eyes from the sun, to which he said : “I like to talk to people without hiding my eyes.”
It was a mystery to me why Dilip Sahab did not give his name as director in the film credits when all the hard work behind the camera was being done by him…There have been two regrets…he could not work with Satyajit Ray as we as in Pyaasa (1957).
God gave His children memory
That in life’s garden there might be
Seven decades after his first film Jwar Bhata, and sixteen years after he acted in his last production, he continues to the final word in screen acting, someone who inspires awe and respect….Actors like Motilal and Ashok Kumar had already begun weeding out the theatrical elements from the film acting by late 1940s, but it was with Dilip Kumar that it became the norm…He demonstrated that it was not necessary to raise one’s voice to be heard….He introduced novel innovations such as acting crucial scenes with his back to the camera, using only his voice…He gave film acting a kind of layered edge, which was marked by self-conscious histrionics till that point of time. Many actors have tried to copy his style over the years and rightfully so, as I feel there is much to learn from his school of acting…
I must describe the first scene I enacted with Dilip Sahab on the sets of Devdas. The scene had a very simple dialogue – Aur Mat Piyo, Devdas – for me. I had to say the line when Devdas would stagger in completely inebriated, the camera was to capture Devdas and then follow him and turn its focus on me when I spoke that line with an expression of anguish and helplessness… As the technicians announce their readiness to shoot and Bimalda looked at me to know if I was ready, I realized that Dilip Sahab was not on the sets…One assistant whispered that he was taking brisk rounds of the studio to get that tired, weary look.. he had instructed cameraman to be ready to start the camera when would stagger in….When the camera started and I saw the incredible perfection to Dilip Sahab’s performance, all I could do was to speak helplessly the line: Aur Mat Piyo, Devdas. The helpless look on my face was what Bimalda wanted, and it came quite naturally…..