Bollywood icon Dilip Kumar passed away at a Mumbai hospital on Wednesday after a prolonged illness. Die-hard fans The Morning Standard talk about their reverence for the ‘tragedy king’, and their memories of watching his films.
Upasna Prasad, 45, homemaker, Mayur Vihar
I was seven years when Shakti released in 1983, and all of us my family and the neighb ours went together to the theatre to watch Dilip Kumar. I am so much in love with his style of acting that I watched the movie again in lockdown. To revisit the old days, I even watched Mazdoor. I really liked the way he portrayed the role of a father, who wanted his daughter to get married to one of his employees, and then confusion ensued. I really love that part. His dialogue delivery in Urdu, and his diction was outstanding. Nobody could do it the way he did. Hum Mehnatkash Iss Duniya Se, Jab Apna Hissa Mangenge from Mazdoor is my favourite song till date. I want my son to watch his movies to know we had such great actors in our times.
Naresh Kumar Sharma, 58, Lawyer, Delhi High Court
I was 15 when I watched Mughal-e- Azam at a theatre in Ghaziabad in 1977. Devdas was my favourite character that he played. The calmness in his dialogue deliveries sets him apart from his peers. In Devdas, when he said, “Kaun kambakht bardaasht karne ko peeta hai,” is still a gold standard. We bunked college just to watch the first day first show of his movies. My friends and I used to also mimic him a lot. Many times, I even lied to my parents to watch his films. Once I took money from my father for the library membership, but used it to watch Ram Shyam at Apsara Cinema in Meerut. I had even got injured because of the hustle-bustle at the ticket counter, but the experience was worth it. I really liked his dressing sense in Aadmi. His dialogue from Kranti: “Hum khoon se aasman mein kranti likh denge” is one of my favourites. His Urdu and Hindi pronunciations were on point. He was not just an actor, but an institution.
Gautam Chintamani, 42, Author and Film Historian, Gurugram
Dilipsa - hab’s effortlessness ensured that each character he portrayed was unique. He was never rushed and unlike some of his contemporaries, he was extremely picky. When I think of him, the first few films of his that come to mind are Ganga Jumna, Amar, Ram Aur Shyam, Andaz and Mashaal. But the film of him I remember watching in a movie hall was Shakti, I must have been four-years-old. I still remember the scene where Dilip sahab tells his son’s kidnappers to kill him because he’d rather let his son die than break the law. His convincing portrayal scared me so much that I started howling and my father had to leave the film midway to pacify me.
By the 1980s, Dilip sahab had reduced the number of films he did, and therefore every new film was nothing less than an event. I remember the frenzy that Karma generated when I watched it in Allahabad. In the 1990s, Saudagar introduced him to a new generation of fans. As luck would have it, I saw his last film Qilla first day, first show in Sangam cinema in Delhi, when it was a single-screen. The film was a monumental letdown and with time, the film’s letdown only grew as we never knew this would be the last time the thespian would feature in a film. A Dilip Kumar retrospective in Shakuntalam cinema at Pragati Maidan in the late 1990s had coincided with my college exams. I wanted to see Mughal-e-Azam on the big screen and I was pleasantly surprised when my mother gave me the permission to go. Had she not agreed, I think I might have snuck out as it was too great an opportunity to miss.
BL Grover, 75, Businessman, KS Packers and Printers, Bawana
I used to save money for weeks to go and watch Dilip Kumar’s movies. And after this struggle, I had to stand in long queues for 2-3 hours to buy the tickets. But that effort was worth it. I was 11 when I went t o wat ch Naya Daur in a cinema hal l wi th friends in 1957. At that time, a ticket used to cost five aana, 1 0 aana and maximum Rs 2 . 5 . We bought tickets for Rs 1.5. The show was house-full, and I came out of the cinema as a Dilip Kumar fan. Even today, when I listen to the song, Udde Jab Jab Zulfe Teri, I start dancing. I had watched the first day first show of Mughal-E-Azam at Palace, Sabzi Mandi, in 1960. He made less, but quality movies. He has been my idol and today, I can just remember how pleasant my life has been just because of him.
Rani Khanam, 50, Kathak Dancer and Choreographer, Delhi
I have always been a big fan of Dilip Kumar. I was eight when I first watched his film, Ram aur Shyam, in Suchitra Talkies in Bihar. Then, I watched Gopi, Aadmi, Kohinoor, and many more, and I found his voice so versatile. Before Shakti was released, the magazines had written that Dilip Kumar would outweigh Amitabh Bachchan. When I watched the film, he seemed tense in front of Dilip sahab, even though he is a great actor.
In Mashaal, there was a scene where Waheeda Rehman is crying in pain and Dilip sahab is running on the road, requesting for help. I was crying all through the scene. I was very fond of watching films and I still remember how we used to go with family in rickshaws. We would buy 15-20 tickets and enjoy the films together. He was not a chapter but the whole history. Instead of mourning, we should celebrate such a great actor like him. He was never in controversy, worked till he could and never tried to stretch things.