The Jynxed Film of The ‘Official Director’, Dilip Kumar—“Kalinga”…
-Ali Peter John
There was a general feeling in the industry that Dilip Kumar unofficially directed all these films. There were stories about him changing the entire scripts of films and even the dialogue and songs. I have seen in making these directors who were some of the biggest names sit in silence or sit outside the floor on which the film was being shot. His co-star actors had to take directions from him more than the official directors. That is the reason why when he decided to make his debut as a director with “Kalinga”, the news went out as ‘the first officially directed film by Dilip Kumar’. It was still a festival when he launched “Kalinga” in April 19,1991.
The venue for the mahurat shot was the lawn of the now defunct Centaur Hotel where there is the JW Marriott hotel now. Dilip Kumar himself was to play Justice Kalinga,a father who is ill-treated by his children when he retires and how he takes revenge on them. There were stories about how the story was inspired by a script written by one of his best friends, Dr B.R Chopra, who had narrated his story to the legend while he was making “Daastaan” and “Mazdoor” with him (Dr Chopra had earlier made “Naya Daur” with Vyjayanthimala and him). When he planned the film, he had Dharmendra in a key role, which was Dharmendra’s dream, but there were problems with the producer, Sudhakar Bokade and Dharmendra was replaced by Sunny Deol, but the casting problems continued and a popular Punjabi actor, Amitoje Naam took his place. The other actors were Raj Babbar, Meenakshi Seshadri, Radha Seth,a popular TV actress, Preeti Sapru and Raj Kiran among others.
The night of the mahurat was considered to be a landmark event in the history of Indian cinema. The entire industry was present and Yash Chopra who was the legend’s own choice directed the mahurat shot which was faced by Dilip Kumar alone, Yash as the judge and delivering a long and hard-hitting dialogue, which was the theme of the film.
The shooting went on, but with all kinds of hurdles in the way, especially the endless tussles between the legend and Bokade, who found it very difficult to understand the ways of the legend. He used to have tussles with the legend even on the money spent on his breakfast. There were times when the legend caught off taking over the film and had many well-wishers of the legend who were willing to take over. But the film was completed somehow and the legend looked thoroughly unhappy throughout the making of the film and Bokadia cursed both “Taqdeer” and kept abusing the legend all the time.
Dilip Kumar had an exclusive trial of the film only for Vijay Anand and Subhash Ghai. Ghai who was a great admirer of the legend literally ran away from the theatre, he couldn’t face his ‘guru’ and tell him the truth. Vijay Anand, who was always known for his gold and truthful opinion did not even spare his brothers, Chetan Anand and Dev Anand, stayed on to meet the legend and when he met him, he frankly told ‘the god of acting’ that he had directed a very bad film and he even offered to edit the film and make it reasonably good.‘The God’ listened to him and promised to have another show for him, but that show never happened.
The film is now lying in the cans and gathering dust. Bokade who was once a smuggler lived a grand but short life. He died of a heart attack when he was in his early fifties. Dilip Kumar as the world knows is lying in almost a coma and doesn’t remember anything at ninety-eight. All the other actors have vanished in their own way and gone their own ways, except for Raj Babbar who is still active both in films and as a prominent leader of the Congress Party.Kalyanji of the Kalyanji-Anand duo is only a name played near the house of Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar,Kamal Bose who had worked with Dilip Kumar on some of his important films and Shankar Kinagi who was what Dilip Kumar called ‘the man behind the film, without whom not even a stone can change its position’.
It is now twenty-eight years since “Kalinga” was started like a dream, but it has ended as a story that should have never been told, not by a legend, certainly.
Will someone please save Justice Kalinga from being sent to the gallows? Who knows this performance could be one of the greatest performances of the emperor of performances??
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