Naseeruddin Shah praises Dilip Kumar’s performances but says he ‘didn’t do enough’ for cinema apart from acting
Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah wondered why late actor Dilip Kumar ‘chose to play safe the way he did’, despite being a star and ‘immaculate’ at his craft. Naseeruddin made these observations in an opinion piece written after Dilip’s death.
Dilip Kumar died on July 7 after a prolonged illness. Coincidentally, Naseeruddin Shah was suffering from pneumonia and was admitted to the same hospital as Dilip in his last days. However, they did not meet.
In a piece for The Indian Express, Naseeruddin acknowledged the ‘undoubted greatness’ of Dilip’s performances but questioned his contribution to cinema. He pointed out that his filmography was limited, compared to his contemporaries.
“Some of those works doubtless will survive the test of time but, given the position he was in, it is more than evident he didn’t do enough apart from acting and being involved in social causes close to his heart. He produced only one film, didn’t direct any (officially at least), never passed on the benefit of his experience, didn’t bother to groom anyone, and apart from his pre-1970s performances, left behind no significant lessons for future actors; even his autobiography is but a rehash of old interviews,” he wrote.
“It’s baffling why a man as conscious of his place in history as he was should be reluctant to record his interaction with some of the admittedly great filmmakers of his time or say anything really informative about the nature of his work and technique. I wish, at some point, he had at least been forthright about the travails involved in retaining legions of devoted fans,” he added.
Naseeruddin praised the ‘consummate characterisations, the dignified deportment, the mellifluous diction, the controlled but roiling emotionality’ in Dilip’s performances, especially before Ganga Jumna (1961). He also expressed gratitude to the late actor ‘for the magic’.
Dilip breathed his last at the Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai on July 7 and is survived by his wife Saira Banu. In his career spanning over five decades, he played a gamut of roles and is considered an institution in acting. He was known as the ‘tragedy king’ for excelling in brooding and intense romantic roles.