Dilip Kumar: Examining a colossus that strode the screen

What’s behind the everlasting appeal of cinema legend Dilip Kumar?


The principle reasons “are related to the myths or legends which have enveloped and continue to camouflage the flesh-and-blood form of the multi-faceted persona of Yusuf Sarwar Khan, alias Dilip Kumar. Dilip Saheb has, on one hand, projected a disarming personality both on and off-screen to endear him to the masses and, on the other hand, equally charmed them with the aura of mysterious shroud cleverly disguising the man behind the megastar,” a new book on the icon says.

Profusely illustrated and meticulously researched, Dilip Kumar -- Peerless Icon Inspiring Generations has been authored by the father-daughter duo of TrinetraBajpai and AnshulaBajpai.

“Dilip Kumar in that sense became an actor who was ‘felt’ by the cinemagoers. His acting style had evolved into an emotional experience, an intellectual exercise and an aesthetic delight-all at the same time. He gave torment a face; grief a voice; and emotion a depiction which was beyond the level of fine art. Even today, Dilip Kumar is the idol and inspiration of every aspiring undergraduate of acting,” the book states.

The other factor contributing to the creation of the myth was that in his public appearances, interactions and orations, Dilip Kumar “exuded sheer honesty of purpose and utter conviction of siding with the correct. The man’s appeal was charmingly magnetic in every sense of the term. The mass adulation generated by the superstar was equally honest, sincere and deep-seated,” the authors write.

The story of Dilip Kumar “reads like a novel of a bygone age. As a child, Yusuf was a mischievous but natural leader. In his school, the children fell into two groups-one led by brother Nasir, and the other by Yusuf. Initially, everyone would join Nasir’s group. But, Yusuf would be so boisterous-inventing all kinds of entertainment-that ultimately, he would win them all over”, the book says.

It was this grounding that would stand Dilip Kumar in good stead in his early years in cinema and beyond.

Spread over 13 chapters and an epilogue, the first two deal with Dilip Kumar’s early years and his evolution. Chapter three is divided into six sub-parts from the ‘Formative Forties to The Climatic Nineties into the Millennium.’ Subsequent chapters deal with issues like ‘The Films that were Not To Be,’ ‘Dilip Kumar and SairaBanu: A Match Made In Heaven,’ ‘Dribbling With Directors, A Sharp Musical Ear’ and ‘The Terrific Trio’ (Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, and Raj Kapoor-mistakenly named as Raj Kumar on page 301).

The artist, the man, and the megastar has left indelible footprints on the sands of time. To say in terms of cinema, this Mughal-E-Azam (1960) of cinema has had a unique Andaz (1949) and his Aan (1952) as an actor remains unmatched till date. The Kohinoor (1960) of cinema ushered in a Kranti (1981) through his Shakti (1982) and Karma (1986) of exceptional acting by playing everything under the sun, be Ram AurShyam (1967). The Saudagar (1991) of cinematic dreams will remain Amar (1954) in the cineverse,” the authors conclude.