When the veteran ‘ultimate’ versatile actor, agile dancer Dilip Kumar-saab ( real name: Mohammed Yusuf Khan) passed away recently, at the age of 98, the entire film-industry and all his ardent loyal fans saluted the revered screen-legend – Chaitanya Padukone
Several top co-stars from Amitabh Bachchan to Vyjayanthimala and eminent directors like Ramesh Sippy & Subhash Ghai who had worked with him all shared their fond nostalgia and paid rich tributes to the thespian articulate ‘method actor’ who was and continues to be an all-time inspiring icon .
Way back in 1984, a multi-starrer hit movie ‘Duniya’ produced by Yash Johar ( yes, Karan Johar’s ‘late’ father) was released. Directed by the brilliant Ramesh Talwar , with melodious music by genius R D Burman, this action-drama-emotional film ‘Duniya’ had a formidable ensemble cast .
Which comprised Ashok Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Saira Banu, Rishi Kapoor , Amrita Singh, supported by Prem Chopra, Amrish Puri, Om Puri, Pradeep Kumar and Pran.
The ‘Duniya’ director Ramesh Talwar shared with me, an exclusive candid nostalgic Q & A tribute to Dilip Kumar .
It is pertinent to mention here, that the smart, suave Ramesh is an occasional actor, an acclaimed drama-play-theatre (IPTA) stalwart, who has directed several Hindi movies including landmark ones like ‘Doosra Aadmi’ , ‘Zamana’ and ‘Baseraa’ and has co-produced ‘Noorie’.
In fact, Talwar has assisted his ‘mentor’ showman-director Yash Chopra-saab in several iconic movies including Ittefaq, Daag, Deewaar and Kabhi Kabhie.
Over to Ramesh Talwar :
Directing a ‘great legend’ called Dilip Kumar in ‘Duniya’ –how did you get over the initial fears ?
Honestly speaking, I had always been a die-hard fan of Dilip-saab and had always seen his movies ‘twice’. When ‘Duniya’ was finalized, there was this lurking anxiety and worry.
Maybe because one had heard stories of ‘how he made certain directors sit outside’. My career as director could then be at stake.
So before we commenced the shoot, I requested producer Yash Johar-jee to arrange a proper meeting where I would get to know Dilip-sahab well and develop a working-rapport with him.
Isn’t Dilip-saab quite friendly and witty by nature, despite his intimidating aura and personality ? Quite true.
Which is what I realized after interacting with Dilip-sahab frequently and once he started fondly calling me ‘Kaaka’ ( a Punjabi term often used for a young kid ).
It was an advantage that Dilip-sahab could speak many languages. Since he also hailed from North West Frontier region he spoke to me fluently in that local Punjabi dialect.
Respectfully, I would always address him as ‘Yusuf-sahab’ . Luckily, he had watched my movies ‘Doosra Aadmi’ and ‘Baseraa’ ,before we started shooting and knew my caliber as a director.
How was your professional rapport with Dilip-saab, who was very senior to you ? Before we even started the shoot-schedules, ( ‘Duniya’) screenplay-dialogues writer Javed Akhtar-saab and I had a detailed narration with Dilip-sahab spanning two long sessions at a Bandra 5-star hotel room.
So whatever issues cropped up, got amicably ironed out. From his side Dilip-sahab made me aware of certain do’s and don’ts .
Regarding camera- focus on his preferred left-side face-profile . That he would not be shooting after sunset or late nights, as he was also actively involved in social work and community welfare.
That he would be willing to re-shoot certain scenes later on, if there were any issues from his side or our side.
Dilip-sahab who was around 62 years, by then, had a relaxed life-style and would arrive on the sets latest between 10.30 am to 11am in the morning and would also take a brief rest-break in the afternoon.
Until he saw a smile of satisfaction on my face, he would be enthusiastic to give multiple re-takes and was willing to be instructed by me.
A meticulous ‘perfectionist’, he would give his best to every shot ! I consider myself blessed to have got the opportunity to ‘direct’ a fabulous human being and an excellent actor called Dilip Kumar.
We completed our movie ‘Duniya’ on time and Dilip-sahab was so happy after watching it, that at a private party hosted by him he even praised me in the presence of top directors Ramesh Sippy and Subhash Ghai.
“Dilip-sahab said to them, “ Itney young director Ramesh ke saath kaam karkey kitna mazaa aaya mujhe. Jaise apne dil mein tha, vaisey hee (‘Duniya’) picture banaayi hai.”
Wasn’t there was some ‘galat faimi’ , which upset Dilip-saab , whilst shooting on the sets ? (Smiles). There was this scene with Om Puri which required Dilip sahab to walk a few steps, stop and then turn twice with the camera focus following him.
Star artistes Jeetendra and his co-actors who were shooting on the neighboring sets, heard of Dilip-saab shooting and came there to watch him from a distance. This apparently miffed him and he lost his cool.
Looking at me he said ‘Kya tum mujhe machine ki tarah mechanical samajhte ho ?’ he groused. Sensing the tense atmosphere, all the visitor-star artistes began leaving one by one.
They must have thought, ‘Ramesh ki verbal ladaai ho rahi hai’!’ I switched off the full-lights, sat next to him and politely explained, ‘Dilip-sahab, you wanted your left profile for the right up frame. That’s why I set the shot and your movement in this particular way’.
He hugged me and said, “Beta koi baat nahin, maaf karna. Vaise tum bade soch ke kaam karte hain”. That then was Dilip-sahab’s graceful humility.