It is widely believed that thespian Dilip Kumar is India’s first actor to introduce ‘Natural Acting’ in Indian cinema. But the fact is prior to him there was another exceptional actor who actually began the trend of ‘Natural Acting’ in Indian cinema in the mid 30’s. He was Motilal, the savvy and debonair actor who is best remembered for his role as ‘Chunni Babu’ the alcoholic friend of Dilip Kumar, in Bimal Roy’s classic movie DEVDAS (1955). The movie fetched Motilal the prestigious Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award.
|MOTILAL in DEVDAS|
Hailing from an affluent family, Motilal was convent educated and aspired to join Indian Navy but destiny had other plans hence on the day of physical test he fell ill and was ruled out for Navy. Being convent educated he used to watch a lot of Hollywood and other foreign movies and this had a great impact on his personality.
Hence, when he made his debut in 1934 with SHAHER KA JADOO in Sagar Film Company, he brought a revolution in acting in Indian cinema as he dared to challenge the theatrical performance of the super stars of the 30’s viz. Prithviraj Kapoor, Ashok Kumar and Sohrab Modi. His style of acting was thus applauded by the great filmmakers of that era like Mehboob Khan (TAQDEER), Raj Kapoor (JAGTE RAHO), Bimal Roy (DEVDAS), S. S. Vasan (MR SAMPAT), B.R.Chopra (WAQT), Hrishikesh Mukherjee (ANARI) etc.
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In fact in the mid-40s when Dilip Kumar made his entry in Bollywood he was deeply influenced by Motilal’s natural performance and his ability to infuse himself in the characters he portrayed on screen. Dilip Kumar thus adopted his style and played a pivotal role in popularizing Motilal’s school of acting.
Eminent actor Naseeruddin Shah too considers Motilal as one of the most iconic actors of Indian Cinema, who has inspired several actors for generations including him. However, it is unfortunate that the younger generation has forgotten the legendary actor and the founder of ‘Natural Acting’.
June 17 marks the death anniversary of this versatile actor, Glamsham.Com remembers him and pays humble homage.