Saira Banu, wife of Dilip Kumar alias Mohammed Yusuf Khan speaks about a few unknown things about the Peshawar born screen legend of Bollywood. In an email interview with the 75-year-old Saira Banu, she revealed a few facets about the 97-year-old Dilip Kumar known as a 'natural actor', who has played memorable roles in films like Devdas, Madhumati, Andaz, Aan, Naya Daur, Deedar and Mughal E Azam among others.
What was the reason for Dilip Kumar to stop working in films?
He actually wanted to quit after 'Ram aur Shyam'. The huge success of Ram aur Shyam did not overwhelm him and he confided to me that he was contemplating taking a bow. I pleaded with him not to take any such decision. The fact is that he had the guts and the confidence to work selectively in only one film at a time even when he was a young actor on the threshold of stardom. It did not scare him that he may be out of work if that one film did not succeed. He put his entire being into the work he did and he knew that his dedication and relentless pursuit of excellence would not go unrewarded.
Also, Dilip Sahab is such a multi-faceted personality. He read voraciously, took keen interest in sports, was always ready to be part of any genuine social service activity. There was no question of his missing the glamour and bustle of the film world because it never meant much to him. He is a simple man who reveled in the happiness he gave to others.
Did he ever regret not being able to see the release of his 1990 film 'Kalinga'?
Of course, he is unhappy about Kalinga not reaching the audience. After all he and an entire cast and crew of talented men and women had worked hard for months together. It was not his fault. The producer over-traded and found himself in a financial mess. Dilip Sahab withdrew money from his personal resources to try and complete the production but it was not enough to pull it through. Sometimes what is not to be is the will of God can never be, no matter how much you wish and try.
Javed Akhtar said that Dilip Kumar was a method actor way before Marlon Brando was. What are your thoughts about the same?
It is true that he tried method acting much before Marlon Brando made news as a method actor. Dilip Sahab evolved his own method of acting when he was at Bombay Talkies. You should read his autobiography “The Substance and The Shadow” which describes the pains he took and the highs and lows he experienced as a completely untaught actor. He has described it all with his own sense of humour.
And to quote the famous director Yash Chopra:
"Dilip Sahab is not a method actor as many cineastes think. He is a spontaneous actor who draws from his inner emotional reserves when he performs those marvellous dramatic scenes. I am saying this after watching him closely for fifty years or more. This alone was the reason why he had to seek the help of a psychiatrist to purge himself of the melancholy that had set in after all the tragic films he did in a row at the start of his stardom. In his personal life he was a loner till he married Saira. His evenings were spent with friends whose intellects could hardly match his. His siblings were different from him. He spent a lot of time reading and writing and working on the interpretation of the roles and screenplays that he selected.”