What make Dilip Kumar stand apart from other actors of his era are the different dimensions of his acting. The same Dilip Kumar, whose tribulations in “Devdas” or “Deedar” as the tragic lover brought tears to our eyes also manages to make us laugh through his jocund moments in “Kohinoor” and “Azaad”. His seamless synthesis of this dichotomy played a major role in making him an on-screen persona cherished by millions.
He was a method actor. The most important thing to notice was how he maintained a balance in his work. If in “Foot Path” he has done a realistic role where his character brings out the negative shades, “Deedar” shows love at its extreme where the lover forcefully blinds himself because his childhood lover doesn’t remember him anymore. In “Aan” you find him as a typical hero of commercial cinema who rides horses, engages in sword fights with villains and protects his beloved from them. He became a complete entertainer in this film.
Dilip Kumar will not only be remembered because he was an actor par excellence, but also because he re-lived his characters. Even without uttering a single word his eyes can be seen speaking a thousand words. Look at his character in Mehboob Khan’s “Amar”, and you find grey shades, too. Dilip Kumar, through his eyes, conveyed resentment, guilt and remorse of a man who raped an innocent village girl.
One can see the intensity of emotions in these movies. This was the reason that legendary director Bimal Roy cast him in milestone movies like “Madhumati”, “Devdas” and “Yahudi”.
“Madhumati” is a film with many layers. It is a story of reincarnation, timeless romance and feudalism. The entire film holds you throughout due to the marvellous acting skills of Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala, soulful composition and it is most interesting to see how three different stories unfold and how they are finally linked. These complexities are well depicted by the great actor.
In each of his film, he relived the character. For “Kohinoor” he learnt the sitar. He played his roles with such depth that he went into depression after his tragic roles in “Devdas”, “Daag” and “Deedar”.
One cannot forget to mention BR Chopra’s “Naya Daur”, which was based on the issue of industrialisation and how it affected the villages. Dilip Kumar played a ‘tangewala’ to perfection.
“Aadmi” is also one of his finest films, where he portrayed the role of a wealthy man who was orphaned at an early age. His loneliness made him a complex person. Dilip Kumar had brought the inner conflicts of human emotions due to the situation so well.
It is interesting to see the actor, who has given us such intricate portrayals, dancing on songs like “Mere pairon mein ghungroo bandha de” in “Sunghursh” to “Nain lad Jayayehe toh manwa ma kasak hoyebe kari” in “Gunga Jumna”.
There is no end to this and a lot more can be said about Dilip Kumar the actor. One wouldn’t know where to put the full stop. It is difficult to believe that he left us. Actually, he never will because his works will always remind us that a legend was born. With his demise, it is the end of an era.
–By Ila Sankrityayan