‘I have admired his performances. To me, they have remained beyond fault.’
Amitabh Bachchan has often spoken about his screen idol Dilip Kumar.
They played father and son in Ramesh Sippy’s Shakti, a film that has taken on classic proportions.
Subhash K Jha brings back a conversation he had with the Big B, where he discusses Dilipsaab, and says, “Our first scene in Shakti was in a jail sequence, where the police official, who is also my father, tries to convince me that I was taking a wrong path in life and I disagree. It was tough to stand in front of someone you have admired for ages, and disagree with him.”
You have never concealed your admiration for Dilip Kumar. What makes him a role model for you and generations of other actors?
I have admired his performances. To me, they have remained beyond fault.
I have admired his intellect, and the way he has translated that into his work.
I have admired his clarity of speech in whichever language he speaks. Clarity in speech is, to me, the greatest acumen for an actor.
You cannot be a great actor without the benefit of these two elements in your expression — graph and tenor.
Which of your performances have been directly inspired by Dilipsaab?
That would be sacrilege.
I should be inspired by ‘the person’ to inspire me to perform or deliver what is asked of me professionally.
Tell us about your first meeting with Dilipsaab and anecdotes about your interaction with him.
Our first scene in Shakti was in a jail sequence, where the police official, who is also my father, tries to convince me that I was taking a wrong path in life and I disagree.
It was tough to stand in front of someone you have admired for ages, and disagree with him.
But it was a job I had to do.
What were your thoughts when Director Ramesh Sippy offered you a chance to work with him in Shakti?
It was not Rameshji that offered me the chance to work with him.
It was Salim-Javed, who thought up the idea and the story.
What was the experience like? Did the two of you hit it off instantaneously? How easy/difficult was it for you to adapt to his method of working?
For me, it was a moment of disbelief, until professional exigencies took over.
He is a considerate colleague and senior, and never failed in those attributes when we worked together.
It remains an illusion to have actually been a part of a project which was headed by this thespian.
God has been kind, very kind.
You did only one film with him. Any regrets about that?
We seek a moment of Godliness often in our life.
It seldom comes, but when it does, you cherish it and remain in gratitude and satisfaction.
Which are your favourite films of Dilipsaab? Why?
All. And why? That would be insolent!
Many of his admirers feel he didn’t do enough work, that he retired too early. Your comments?
No one has the ability to describe it for another.
Our individual capacity gives us the liberty to describe it for ourselves. We need to respect that.
If you had the chance to do one of Dilipsaab‘s roles which one would it be?
I would never dare to even think of doing that.
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