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Archive for July, 2021

Dilip Kumar, the tragedy king, who put so much soul in so many stories which have been watched on the silver screen by generations of Indians and Pakistanis, has gone. Left behind is his own story. In the bygone days this would have been a story told and retold in the Bazaar of Storytellers where he was born. 

The ancient Bazaar in the heart of Peshawar where traders and travellers, after their long tiring journeys, exchanged stories for thousands of years came to be a place where stories were told, perhaps, more than the ware that was sold, hence the name Qissa Khwani (literally story telling). Present day Peshawar is another country; old stories are lost, new are told through other means-books, radio, film, television and social media. Dilip belonged to this new era but he was equally good in narrating stories of the Bazaar in the old way. 

In 1988 he had made a sentimental journey to his birthplace and that is when the Press recorded what he remembered of his town- the mud houses, the heat, the narrow streets, food stalls with sizzling chapli kebabs, his own house where he enjoyed eating Baqar Khani, dry fruit and malai. Hopefully, soon that house will be converted into a museum.

Dilip’s first movie that we watched was Aan and it was the family’s favorite.My elder brother Khalid was his great fan. He went as far as Lahore and Jashn-e-Kabul to watch his movies; me and my sister Shaheen went as far as a place called Tin Hati just to see a special ladies show arranged in a rickety cinema house which was a challenge for our driver to find but he had to because Nasira, my dear friend and a faithful fan of Dlip had to watch the movie at all costs! 

Dilip was equally great at comedy which he proved in Ganga Jamuna, Ram aur Shyam and Gopi. In between tragedy and comedy he had played versatile roles. However, there was one role which was unique.
During that first visit to Pakistan, I wanted to meet him and write an article in Dawn. I was very keen to ask him about the fate of that movie. It was early eighties or may be late seventies when one day I read the news that B.R. Chopra was making ‘Chandragupta and Chanakya’ and that Dilip was to play the role of Chanakya. Since Chandragupta was the subject of my research thesis during Masters I was very keen to be a part of the movie. I wrote a letter to Mr. B.R. Chopra and attached my paper to it. Chopra’s response was prompt and we exchanged a few ideas but unfortunately the movie was not made. So when I met Dilip Kumar at the Indian Consulate in Karachi, I wanted to know from him the fate of the movie and it was from him I learnt why it was shelved. I recently did a search and found this article in which Dharmendra explains it better than me. https://bit.ly/3i61oPM

Dilip Kumar

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