Monday, July 19, 2021



( L to  R..Ramanand Sagar, Ghulam Rasool Renzu and Dilip Kumar)


Dilip Kumar has a strong connection  with Kashmir that begins from the actor’s childhood. As child  ,  the actor and his brother  lived  with  the family of Dr. Haseeb A. Drabu   after they were   diagnosed with tuberculosis.   Since antibiotics or  streptomycin was not discovered at that point of time, the only medical advice to Tuberculosis patients was to move to some hill station or sanatorium .Dilip Kumar’s father  had close links with Drabu family of Rajpora , Kashmir on account of his  fruit business . Sarwar Khan ,  Dilip Kumar’s father  was  trading in Kashmiri apples . This could be much  before 1947.

In 1956, when Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad  invited him for the  Jashn e Kashmir , Dilip Kumar was more than happy to come to Srinagar and don white dress for an exhibition cricket match played by participating  film stars . He brought Raj Kapoor , Nargis  ,Om Prakash, Nirupa Roy and a large group of some prominent film  actors with him.

Dilip Kumar loved to stay in houseboats and Pahalghaam remained his favourite destination .Sometimes  ,he would stay at 'Hotel Oberoi Palace'  in Srinagar or 'Highland Park' in Gulmarg.  He also liked Nigeen lake and its peaceful ambiance .

He had many friends in Kashmir that include  Dr Farooq Abdullah ,M. Y. Khan ( former chairman of J&K Bank), Ghulam Ahmed Shonthu ( former Chief Secretary), Sheikh Amin family, Tramboo family , Janki Ganju, Bashir Bakshi , Nazir Bakshi , Mir inayatullah ( Chief Warden  Wild Life  ), G R Renzu ,  Gani Sahib( hotelier)  and many more . The list is long and accordingly , I am mentioning some prominent people who come to my mind at the moment. He loved  Kashmiri food  especially Goshtaba and  Dum Alu . Coming from a family trading in Kashmir fruits, he loved cherries and  Ambri apple of Kashmir  . These special fruits  were  arranged for him and his   family by a Mumbai fruit merchant .The actor loved  Kashmiri handicrafts especially papier mache and wood carving .  A Purohit from Mattan told me that Dilip Kumar would drop inside the Mattan spring  to feed fish as and when he visited Pahalghaam. The owner of Mir Paan House on the fashionable Residency Road ( Srinagar )  has old me that he has personally offered a simple  Paan to Dilip Kumar  when some local host brought him to the shop during night time. The Sardar Ji,   owner of Hind Book Shop on the  Residency Road  ( Srinagar)   has told me that in 1973 or 1974 , Dilip Kumar visited his shop and purchased  J M Barrie’s  ‘The Admirable Crichton ‘.  The manager of Ahdoo’s Hotel on the Bund once told me that he arranged a late night dinner for Dilip Kumar , Saira Banu and their local host in the restaurant . They entered from the Bund entrance and a sitting arrangement had been created for them inside in a separate enclosure that was not visible to other guests .

Many times musical  Mehfils were held in Srinagar in honour of Dilip Kumar. Very  select and limited people were invited to these gatherings. Some people still remember one such Mehfil organised by Bashir Bakshi wherein Vijay Malla and Ghulam Nabi Sheikh sang Gazals. The thespian was impressed by Urdu Gazals sung by Vijay Malla 

Saira Banu has a Kashmir ancestry from her mother’s side .   Saira Banu’s grandmother belonged to a Kashmiri family from Amritsar . Along with Dilip kumar , Saira Banu  once  paid a visit to Baba Rishi Ziyarat  near Gulmarg  seeking the boon of a child  that her family  desperately desired .  Saira Banu had conceived in 1972, but developed complications in the pregnancy, leading to the child's death.

In early sixties of the last century  ,Dilip Kumar wanted to make a film on "Habba Khatoon" . The project was discussed in detail with Mehboob Khan who had even got  the screenplay written. Dilip kumar wanted to play a prominent role in the movie but the project was dropped due to sudden death of Mehboob Khan in 1964.He then decided to make a film on Begaar ( forced labour ) . The project was named ‘ Kar Begaar ‘. This project too was dropped at the last moment . He was seriously interested in  setting  up a film studio in Srinagar . Some meeting were held with entrepreneurs local artists  and government officials . Tramboo family especially,  Nazir Tramboo was also actively involved in this project  that could prove highly beneficial for artists from Kashmir and also  give a flip to tourism sector . This project too could not see the light of the day.

Ghulam Mohammad Dug , proprietor of 'Taj Hotel' at Amirakadal in Srinagar,  who had  links with Dilip Kumar told me this:-

"I visited him once in Mumbai in1967  and got introduced to the thespian. Thereafter as and when he visited Kashmir , he would ask for me . Together we went to Tsraar e Sharif  Hazratbal or many other places. Although I was worried lest some untoward may not happen due to crowds that thronged to see him but he would talk to people ,wait for them and reciprocate their love and affection.
One day I went to see him in the houseboat . I found him sleeping on the narrow wooden  walking passage around the houseboat. He was sleeping without any bedding or sheet or pillows. Just  like a commoner. As he got up, he told me that he loved to sleep like that to see the lake ,the birds and the silence . According to him he felt more happy  when he came very close to nature. While talking to me ,he said ' You must save this lake. Save your culture and save the  unique and appreciable ways of your living from rapid westernisation. "

Although Ghulam Mohammad Dug has closed the Taj Hotel at Amirakadal, he continues to remain in the  hotel business . He has opened ‘Hotel Pine Grove’  on Boulevard, Srinagar.  On his  Facebook  wall, he has also written this:-

“ 1971 and  1973 I remained associated with him for all the days he stayed in Srinagar. He was here to select locations and  to consult authors/historians of Kashmir in connection with the  making of his new film titled " Kar Begar" under his own banner "Citizen Films India" The said film project was later on abandoned for unknown reasons. Here I would like to make a mention of an incident which may not be of much significance to readers but it shows how careful he was in pointing out  shortcomings of others  to  them. It so happened that while in Srinagar during his stay in a house boat in Dal Lake he fell ill and  Dr. G.Q. Allaqaband visited him to treated him. On the day of his departure when he was about to cross in a shikara,  he thanked houseboat owner for the  services rendered to him but very soberly added ," Chacha agli bar jab hum ayenge apni boat mein ek peene ke paani ka nal zaroor laga lena" please remember those days direct tap water supply system was yet be launched in the  Dal Lake area and  houseboat owners had to fetch it from banks of the lake in a Shikara. I gather at that time from Dilip Kumar's specific remark made to houseboat owner was perhaps the supply of " polluted drinking water to him" during his stay in his houseboat was the  cause of his illness. It shows how great he was to draw the attention of the  houseboat owner for committing the  negligence, in such a polite  and  beautiful manner when he had other options, like reporting the matter to the  authorities, was also available  so as to initiate action under law .”

Padamshri Pran Kishore told me this :-

“ I was entrusted the job of recording detailed interview of the thespian  by Shri N.L. Chawla , the then  Station Director AIR, Srinagar.It was a challenging task. We invited him to the Radio Station . Dilip Kumar arrived on time and I recorded something great  for the AIR.  As usual , he was tidy and well dressed .  He  had profound knowledge of English literature , music , Urdu poetry , Bangla literature and novels of Munshi Prem Chand . From the interview , I  could understand the depth of his study and his  understanding of the issues relating to cinema.

After the recording , I requested him to join  special cultural show at Tagore hall in the evening that day. We  , the members of Akashvani Club were holding an event in aid of victims of Budgam earthquake  . When he heard the details , he immediately agreed to come .  Joined by Saira Banu, he  was there on time . His presence served a  great purpose .

In the interview, I  touched the question of 'New Wave Cinema'   and he was forthright in his reply. While he appreciated the talent of all the artists and directors connected with the 'New Wave Cinema' , he clarified that cinema has a commercial angle as well. One needs money to create a film . If one is able to recover  at least what he spends   ,it is fine . With losses, how long can one continue making films. He believed  that commercial aspect of a film can't be ignored or overlooked. "

Dilip Kumar has also attended the marriage ceremony of two daughters of Janki Ganju of Srinagar. Janki Ganju was a close friend of the thespian .Janki was a very well-known and well connected Washington based  NRI .Capt. S K.Tikoo has told a beautiful story with regard to his interaction and proximity to the thespian. He  told me this:-

" It may sound strange but I am telling you something that is true . I met Dilip Kumar in 1974 at Chandrajeet Yaday's house in New Delhi. Yadav  was  then general secretary AICC in-charge youth affairs .It was a dramatic meeting wherein I made every effort to impress the thespian with  theatrics taught to me by Padamshri Moti Lal Kemu and I succeeded . He didn't forget me . Surprisingly, the great actor had conveyed minutest details of this meeting to his close  family including Saira Banu and Naseem Banu . I was possibly presented as some special character by the thespian to his family.
Back in Srinagar, sometime later, I received a call from Hotel  Broadway that Dilip Kumar was in Srinagar and wanted to see me .When I went to the hotel,   the emperor of Hindi cinema,  accompanied by Bakshi Bashir , came to me and gave me a tight hug. He sent a word to his waiting family members to go to their suites after pointing his finger towards me. I could see them smiling. I reciprocated the smile.

He had come to Srinagar alongwith Saira Ji, Naseem Bano and two more ladies to join the marriage function in the family of Janki Ganju ,his close friend. The boarding and lodging arrangements were done for the family in Hotel Broadway. Janki Ganju was the in-house guest of the then  governor and was staying with him in Raj Bhavan. The marriage was to be solemnised at Karan Nagar .Dilip Kumar wanted to attend all family functions and remain near by,so Hotel  Broadway was the most suitable choice .

For me ,  It was amazing to see   three greats of  Hindi cinema ; I mean Pari Chehra Naseem Banu, Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu . While the ladies went to their suites, Dilip Kumar and I sat at the bar that was in the hotel  lobby itself.Sita Ram, the then bartender at Hotel Broadway  had served Dilip Kumar in some hotel in South India. He called his wife from the house telephone and smilingly conveyed to me what Saira had just talked to him,' hum to samjhay thei aap hum se mazaaq kar rahey thei magar yeh to waqai ek moajaza hai". He had discussed me and our meeting in Chanderjeet Yadav' house  thoroughly with Saira Ji in particular. I could feel it.

I think, it is essential for me, to let you  know, what really took Dilip Kumar, by utter surprise, when we had that accidental meeting at Chanderjeet Yadav's place in New Delhi.When Dilip Kumar wanted my visiting card ( it was not business card yet), and my telephone  number , and I disappointed him, by replying, that I didn't have either of the two. 'How do I meet you, if/when I come to Srinagar? ‘ He was stumped, when I replied, ' when you land in Srinagar, ask anybody  you come in contact with on your arrival in Srinagar, that you want to meet Captain Tikoo, and you will be escorted to me. ‘  That is why Saira had said, ‘yeh tou Moujaza hai .’

We talked about many things ,many issues. The thespian was  warm and affectionate to me in the entire conversation. After he left ,I stayed at the bar for sometime.Another 15 minutes and Sita Ram,the highly impressive bartender,   handed over the telephone receiver to me ; it was an in-house call and it was Dilip Kumar,” kal aath baje, idhar he, theek hai'. I said ,' theek hai '

Next day ,Janki Ganju was also there. Dilip Kumar introduced him to me. Janki was warm and cheerful. From the conversation , I could  feel that  Dilip Kumar was very close to Janki Ganju. He  would always call him "Jaan".   Speaking in chaste Urdu, Dilip Kumar  addressed his friend,' janki tumhe dekh kar aisa lag raha hai mai booda hota ja raha hoon.."
I had some gala time with Mr Ganju, he was full of life and liked all good things in life.However I could not join the reception and some functions in Janki Ganju's house as the dates clashed with the prefixed appointment that I had with my Delhi doctors.
Dilip Kumar was a regular visitor to Kashmir I met him again and he invited me to Mumbai. I could feel that Dilip Kumar's love for Kashmir was deep and sincere  He wanted to do something for Kashmir . To me , he talked about the  hurdles that came in his way. Let me tell you in short, Hindi cinema will not see another Dilip Kumar for many many years to come .  I have more to convey about the great actor . Let us keep that for our next meeting. "

Some days back ,I was participating in an online  discussion  relating to acting skills of the thespian. It was organised by Prof. Liaqat Jafri of Jammu. Film lyricist and screenplay writer , Hassan Kamaal ( who wrote songs of BR Chopra production Nikaah )  ,who was also in the panel said this :-
" The greatness  of Dilip Kumar was revealed to me when he asked me to change dialogues of the actor who was to face him in a movie for which I was engaged to write screen play ,dialogues and  songs. Dilip Sahib told me ," Bhai agar aap ne mujhe bees (20) Kar Diya, inn ko to Unees (19 ) Karo.'  I changed the dialogues. In the movie, It had a dramatic effect on the personality of that particular actor. Dilip Sahib also looked more majestic with that upgradation.' 

Do we see this type of involvement from  actors presently ? How many  actors   can be  identified as rank  twenty ( according to Dilip Kumar 's parameters ) ? Have we learnt to compromise with rank 8 or 9 at the most ? As per my knowledge ,only a few can come near  to rank twenty or the bright sunlight that illuminates the darkness around it . I conclude this post with two couplets of Urdu poet Bashir Badr....

" Meray saath jugnu hai ham-safar magar iss sharar ki bisaat kya ,
Ye charaag  koyi charaag hai na jalaa hua na bujhaa  hua..
Jisse le gayi hai abhi havaa vo varaq tha dil ki kitaab  ka,
Kahin aansuon  se mita  hua kahin  aansuon se se likha  hua......"

( Avtar Mota)

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