I’m constantly stumped when trying to buy gifts for people who I think are accomplished and “have it all” … I mean what do you give someone who has it all, in your eyes, at least? Similarly, how do you pay tribute to someone called Dilip Kumar? An institution in acting himself, so many that came after him aped his mannerisms and way of working.
There are so many roles on which he left his own stamp. it didn’t matter what kind of roles he accepted – he executed them with his own brand of intensity, be it an Azaad or a Devdas; a Kohinoor or a Ram or even the mischievous Shyam. Ram Aur Shyam was particularly noteworthy as he played two different personalities, one gregarious and out-going; the other tortured and reticent, both with aplomb.
It didn’t matter what kind of a song was filmed on him, he did more than justice to them all. With mitwa laagi re ye kaisi unbujh aag he had the listener yearn with him. Madhuban mein radhika naache re held the viewer spellbound as he handled the sitar as an accomplished riyaazi ustaad. And you joined his rustic excitement of falling in love as he announced laaga gori gujariya se neha hamaar, hoi gava saara chaupat mora roj-gaar…He had a keen sense of music and his dancing feet can be seen in that last mentioned song.
Rustic or urban, handicapped or full-bodied, his roles involved the viewer so that instead of calling Devdas a loser, one sympathized with him as long as Dilip Kumar stayed on screen. If Dev Anand was the romantic hero of the times and Raj Kapoor was the cheerful simpleton to whom life happened, then Dilip Kumar was definitely the one that Life tested. The one that left his own emotional mark on the roughness that life offered.
Consider this very beautiful poem by Shakeel. Starting with nothing more than the chords of the piano, Rafi, Shakeel, and Dilip Kumar would have you believe that this was a romantic serenade. Not quite. It’s a goodbye but delivered so grandly that its impact is actually heightened.
tu mera saath na de muhabbat mein sanam
chalte-chalte main kisi raah pe mud jaaunga…
saath mere mera afsana chalaa jayega,
kal teri bazm se deewana chala jaayega…
Dilip Kumar saahab nee Yusuf Khan saahab, I don’t think that will ever happen. You’ve left behind enough ‘qadmon ke nishaan’ in your acting career that many an actor-wannabe will want to study to perfect his craft that you will never be mere ‘raste ki dhool’.
I wonder if Dilip Kumar-Naushad-Shakeel made such a fantastic combo because of the intensity they each brought to their art?
Wishing this institution of acting a happy birthday.
Written for on Dilip Kumar’s birthday, today, 11 December 2018
Monica Kar received her BA in English Honours from the University of Delhi. She now lives in St. Charles, Missouri, where she wears several hats, including doing voluntary work as an educator and homemaker.