LEGEND: The most memorable role played by Dilip Kumar was that of Prince Salim in movie “Mughal-E-Azam”; the film is arguably a semi-historical dramatization of how the Mughal dynasty prince fell in love with dancing girl Anarkali (Madhubala), a love story which captured the hearts of most everyone at home and abroad where Hindi films are ardently viewed
By Ali Peter John
A senior film journalist who has known Yusuf Khan, who changed his name to Dilip Kumar, for over 50 years, pays a tribute to the legend of Hindi cinema….
A personal tribute to the actor I knew for 50 years!
HOW I wish I was not born to see the morning of July 7, 2021. How I wish I had not woken up to listen to my caretaker, Pushpa, telling me that Sahab had passed away
In that one moment , l died several times and cried many more times. I was stone, l was mud, l was dust, l was asses, l was dead and nothing mattered to me.
The man who was a majestic miracle, to whom I was privileged and grateful to, had died, and l was reduced to nothing and nobody. I have no more ambitions to fulfil, l have no more desires to cherish and l have no more dreams to see or see them come to live …
The only satisfaction l had after crying for two hours was to know that only one Dilip Kumar had gone away and there were many more Dilip Kumars still alive and who would be alive as long as there is life and there is god in heaven.
Only the evening before I kept believing that there could not be a place like heaven and that no one went there or came back from there, but today morning when my senses opened to the reality of the death of the King of Tragedy in Hindi cinema and so many other fields of life which not many have tried to know. Today , l declare that l believe that there is a heaven and the first two human beings to land there were my mother and Dev Anand, and now the greatest of great human beings has joined them and the whole place called heaven with god and all his angels are dancing and welcoming Shahenshah to Jannat – a place that was beh-raheem till Dilip Kumar reached there and Jannat never looked so magnificent, it was the entry and welcome that Dilip Kumar received that added charm, charisma and dignity to Jannat!
MOHAMMAD Yusuf Khan was not just a great actor, he was not just a tragedy king, he was not just a complete actor, he was in truth the God of Acting. There have been many who have tried to follow him for the last half-a-century, but not one of them have come anywhere near him, not even the star of the millennium or the badshah of acting. He was a legend, an institution, a university, he had a doctorate in acting…if you think l am singing his praises after he has departed, or if you think l am flattering him, you can and you have the right to your opinion. But my opinion about Dilip Kumar as an actor is much more supreme than all the other opinions, all the books, and all the theses written about him.
He was a writer who could tell writers whether they were going the right way or the wrong way, and then he left them free to find their own ways. He had to read almost everything that was worth reading and he put what he read into his art of being an actor.
He was a poet who could quote lines from the greatest poets who wrote good poetry in Urdu , Hindi , English , Pashtu , Marathi and even some of the languages spoken in faraway countries, he could even write poetry, he had mushaira and kavi sammelan in his house before he married Saira Banu, and even after he lived with Saira in her bungalow, for any poet to be appreciated and recognized by Dilip Kumar was like getting the highest award for poetry anywhere in the world
He was a philosopher whose thoughts could change the thinking of some of the greatest minds and even some of the most common minds, he was amazingly aware about the past , the present and the future
He was a politician, but only a politician who could think of the best ways about how to serve the people, he was happy not to be a part of the way politics was practiced, especially in India; he was a politician who had no fear and was frank and fearless in telling the truth
He was an economist who could talk to a gathering of some of the best economists and they listened to him because of his knowledge, wisdom and of course his command over languages.
He was a speaker who not only humans, but even the sea, the waves , the birds in air, the stars in sky, the sun and the moon, and even god almighty wanted to listen to every time he spoke on a wide variety of subjects . l have had several opportunities of listening to him speak and capture, captivate and conquer the hearts and minds of people , kings , prime ministers and both clean and dirty politicians
MAN OF GOD
THE was a man of god and a god of human beings, but above all , he was a man who loved, cared and was loved and cared for by the people who had the good fortune to be around him, with him, and had full faith and trust in him.
He was many men in one man and it is this reality about him that will keep him alive (who says he is dead ?) for several lifetimes to come.
I have been seeing him during different seasons, of his graceful life, and have been bowled over and endlessly charmed by his simplicity, his humility and above all his greatness which he never knew about himself and never tried to let others know about .
Was he a great actor? Was he? Was he? Was he? These questions will be a part of our world and the world they call Jannat, where he will now ask questions to god to answer in the interest of humanity. No, you or even god, will not know the real Mohammad Yusuf Khan.
(Ali Peter John is a veteran film journalist who was the Editor of the Screen, a broad sheet film weekly brought out by the Indian Express Group)