Remembering Dilip Kumar Through Amitabh Bachchan's Eyes

Amitabh Bachchan has long considered the legendary Dilip Kumar to be his idol.

5 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Amitabh Bachchan has always considered Dilip Kumar to be his idol</p></div>

Dilip Kumar, Bollywood's 'Tragedy King', was a paragon and institution in himself, lending his art to hundreds of films, each left behind with the actor's essence. His passing, today, shocked the entire nation, and several people across the film fraternity mourned his demise.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Dilip Kumar in 'Devdas' (1955)</p></div>

Dilip Kumar in 'Devdas' (1955)

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

With such a large presence, it's natural for any young actor after him to idolise him. One such actor is Bollywood's 'angry young man' Amitabh Bachchan. Over the years, he has frequently talked about the impact Dilip Kumar has had on his life, and the everlasting effect on his career.

Here's remembering the legend Dilip Kumar through Amitabh's eyes.

Amitabh's Admiration of Dilip Kumar Dates Back to His University Days

"He was the one actor that we, as young students in University, broke boundaries and hostel rules to go see his films night after night. His early films had been historic in content and repute- Aan and Shaheed- ones that I still remember seeing in the darkness of cinema halls with the barest minimum facility and comfort," Big B wrote in his blog.

"For 4 annas, 25 paise, a quarter of a rupee, we would sit on wooden benches right up in front in the theatres and marvel at what our hero would enact. And among the many that we saw and enjoyed, it was for me always a Dilip Kumar that stood out. Different and distinguished. And always without fault".
Amitabh Bachchan about Dilip Kumar
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar, and Jaya Bachchan at a film theatre</p></div>

Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar, and Jaya Bachchan at a film theatre

(Photo Courtesy: Amitabh Bachchan official blog)


It Took Decades for Amitabh Bachchan to Get Dilip Kumar's Autograph

In a post on his official blog, Amitabh Bachchan once recounted an incident from the first time he saw Dilip Kumar. "I remember the first time I ever saw him. 1960. I had come to Bombay as a visitor with my parents. It was a prominent restaurant, in now what is commonly referred to as South Bombay, where Dilip Kumar, the Dilip Kumar, walked in," he wrote.

Amitabh recalls that he ran out to the nearest stationary shop to buy an autograph book when people around Kumar urged him to ask the actor for an autograph. "Poised statue like, hand extended with the book, I repeated my quivering words to him. He remained unmoved. Either to me or to the book. In a short while, he turned and left," he wrote.

He added, "I followed his departure, book in hand and a little embarrassed and self conscious and disappointed, returned to my seat, consoled by the elders with me not to take it personally. He may not have noticed you, or perhaps he was too busy with what was transpiring between him and is friends. I understood with some trepidation. End of meeting with Dilip Kumar."

He finally secured the coveted autograph years later, at the premiere of his film Black. Dilip Kumar had been invited by Rani Mukherji.

"After the film was over, I found him waiting outside the theatre for me to emerge. I walked up to him. He stretched out his hands to me and held both of mine and stood looking me in the eye, without saying a word. An eternity passed. No one spoke. Two days later a letter came from him applauding my work. And signed, DILIP KUMAR!! After 46 years I got the autograph I had craved for".
Amitabh Bachchan, Blog entry

Big B on Working With the Legend in Shakti

Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan first worked together in the film Shakti, helmed by the duo Salim-Javed. Amitabh played the role of Vijay Kumar, a hurt and disgruntled son to Kumar's DCP Ashwini Kumar.

In an interview with Bollywood Hungama in 2012, Amitabh Bachchan talked about the experience of finally working with his idol.

"For a very long time it was not believable that I was actually working with Dilip sir. It's very important to evaluate the person standing in front of an actor while evaluating their acting...That's the greatness of Dilip sir. He's a very considerate co-artist," he had said.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar finally worked together in 'Shakti'</p></div>

Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar finally worked together in 'Shakti'

(Photo Courtesy: Amitabh Bachchan's official blog)

"I particularly remember when I was preparing for my death scene in the film, he came up and said, 'I'll prepare with you'. I said, 'No Dilip sir, let me do it on my own.' But he insisted. These are things that encourage a young artists at that point of time. While we were rehearsing, there was some noise and there were unit people talking. He sort of snapped at them and said, 'Can't you see he's rehearsing? Can you please keep quiet?' This is something that should have come from me if I was getting disturbed but coming from him it meant a lot. It shows his consideration."
Amitabh Bachchan to Bollywood Hungama
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Amitabh and Dilip in 'Shakti'.</p></div>

Amitabh and Dilip in 'Shakti'.

(Photo Courtesy: Amitabh Bachchan blog)


Amitabh's Visit to Dilip Kumar's House at 2 AM

During an award show, Amitabh Bachchan gave a heartfelt tribute to Dilip Kumar, who sat in the audience with wife Saira Bano on his side. On various occasions, Amitabh has said that Kumar's film Ganga Jumna remains his favourite. Standing on the stage, he revealed that Kumar's performance in the film remained with the actor throughout his life.

"For someone who was born in Allahabad in UP, it was very difficult for me to imagine that someone who didn't come from UP, didn't come from Allahabad, was able to enact all the nuances that are required in the language Awadhi that was spoken in Ganga Jumna," he added.

He recalled an anecdote from the times he, Salim Khan, and Javed Akhtar would spend hours at his home.

"On one particular day, around 2 in the morning, we all suddenly felt the desire to go meet Dilip sir. I felt very hesitant and I said, 'It's 2 in the morning. How can we just go and meet him?' But they said that he will meet us. We drove to Dilip sir's house at 2 in the morning. We told him we just came to meet him and will go away soon but Dilip sir spent the entire night speaking to all of us. It's one of the greatest joys I've ever had".
Amitabh Bachchan, Award ceremony
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Amitabh signs his father's collector’s edition of 'Madhushala'; gifted to Dilip Saheb</p></div>

Amitabh signs his father's collector’s edition of 'Madhushala'; gifted to Dilip Saheb

(Photo Courtesy: Amitabh Bachchan blog)

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar</p></div>

Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar

(Photo Courtesy: Amitabh Bachchan blog)


Dilip Kumar left an impact on the industry like no other-- with his charm, talent, and grace, and above all, his compassion. When Shah Rukh Khan once asked about the quality that makes his films endearing, he'd said, “No actor can be bigger than the substance which he portrays."

And in the end, that's what the legendary Dilip Kumar will be remembered as: A man with substance.

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