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The Dignity of Dilip Kumar

 By Jaideep Sen      

On 7th July, 2021, Dilip Kumar Saab was finally relieved from his suffering due to poor health of many years and gave lesser mortals like me to relive and rewind to the greatness of Dilip Saab. 

Dignity is precisely what Dilip Saab brought not only to his performances but to the overall realm of Hindi Cinema. 

A scene from Shakti

My generation was brought up more on Salim Saab-Javed Saab’s Angry Young Man portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan Ji and uncannily it took the same haloed trio to introduce me to the greatness of Dilip Saab in Shakti. What a film, what crackling writing, what performances by both Dilip Saab and Amit Ji! 

Dilip Saab was hitting the ball out of the park in every scene. Like a chameleon on top of its game -- because the character of Ashwini Kumar had such vast changing colours to cover. From a tough cop to loving husband to helpless father to ultimately shooting his only child dead. 

Dilip Saab scored a 10 on 10 in every scene of this once in a lifetime film, that too with an understated performance. That is the magic of masters who achieve maximum impact with minimum fuss. No wonder then that Shakti finds a mention in almost every conversation that involves marvels of Hindi cinema. 

I often tell Salim Saab that he and Javed Saab must have relished writing the dialogue of Shakti, knowing that their lines would be mouthed by two of the greatest actors on this side of the equator. 

Dilip Kumar in Mashaal

My tribute to Dilip Saab can not be complete without mentioning his greatest scene. In Mashaal, his histrionics reached another level. While the Shakti scene was understated, the Mashaal scene was at the other end of the high-strung histrionics spectrum: when he tries to stop a car to take his wife (played by Waheeda ji) to the hospital. That scene is hair raising to say the least and Dilip Saab actually transforms into a middle class distraught husband, an achievement that makes the actor evaporate and only the character is visible to the audience. 

What is remarkable about Dilip Saab’s genius is that he performed this emotion twice in the film, once when his wife is actually dying and the second time when he takes Raja through what happened that fateful night. Dilip Saab was a volcano on fire even the second time around and that happens only with acute understanding of the craft and unflinching love for the art of acting. 

Dilip Saab’s mortal remains have been put to rest but the mashaal of his immortal status and stature in Indian Cinema shall always burn bright. 

Jaideep Sen is a filmmaker and a connoisseur of the art of storytelling.  

Read his earlier posts in the Salam Salim Saab series: 

#1 Salaam, Salim Saab 

 #2 Silence that Speaks 

#3 The Invaluable Value of the Pen

 #4 The Guru of Screenwriting

 #5 The Forever Burning Flame of Sholay

 #6 The Strength of Characterisation 

 #7 Bond of Brotherhood

 #8 The Sangam of a Genius and his Admirer 

 #9 First Link in the Zanjeer 

#10 Vijay – The Eternal Winner 

 #11 Let's Celebrate Salim Khan! 

 #12 The Memorable Women Behind the Angry Young Man

 #13 The Definition of a Love Story 

#14 Relevance Etched in Stone 

 #15 Fuelled by Rejection 

#16 Dialogue - the Spoken Word 

 #17 When Salman Khan Chose to Strip Off his Stardom

 #18 The Most Memorable Line of Indian Cinema

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