Naseeruddin Shah stands by comments on Dilip Kumar's lack of contribution to Indian cinema, dismisses rumours of feud
Naseeruddin Shah has offered clarification about his comments on the late Dilip Kumar, whom he accused of not doing enough for cinema.
Naseeruddin Shah stood by what he wrote about the late Dilip Kumar, whom he accused of not doing enough for cinema in India. Naseer in an op-ed published after Dilip Kumar's death wondered why the late actor ‘chose to play safe the way he did’, despite being a star and ‘immaculate’ at his craft.
In a new interview, Naseeruddin Shah said that he said what he did after careful consideration. He also addressed rumours of a turbulent working relationship with Dilip Kumar, on their sole collaboration, Subhash Ghai's Karma.
Asked about the controversy generated by his op-ed, he told SpotboyE, “Those who decided to take offence at what I said about Dilip Saab should have read the entire article and they would have realised that my praise, though conditional, for his acting chops was nothing less than glowing. I practically ran out of superlatives when describing his acting abilities. My 'complaint' had nothing to do with that at all. However, the reaction of people who choose to see meanings where there are none doesn't bother me... I said what I had to say, and if I hadn't meant it I wouldn't have said it.”
He also said that the rumours of a feud between himself and Dilip Kumar was the media's doing. "The supposed problems we had during the making of a film which I'd rather forget was all the invention of the media and some vested interests who made our working together sound like some sort of acting duel that was to take place, when considering the nature of our respective roles. I actually didn't stand a chance. All this fanned the non-existent flames when the fact was we hardly even met including in the scenes we had together. I don’t consider acting to be a contest or a game of one-upmanship and I was far from happy with all the talk of Dilip Kumar versus me. I have never denied that it was my childhood dream to act with and not opposite him.”
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 his op-ed for Indian Express, Naseeruddin Shah had written, "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."