Monday, Feb 06, 2023

Naseeruddin Shah: ‘Dilip Kumar left behind no significant lessons for future actors’

Naseeruddin Shah called Dilip Kumar among the finest actors in the country, whose sheer presence could elevate a film. He, however, lamented the actor 'never passed on the benefit of his experience, didn’t bother to groom anyone'.

dilip kumar naseeruddin shah karmaNaseeruddin Shah and Dilip Kumar have shared screen space in Karma (1986). (Photo: Twitter/BombayBasanti)

Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah looks up to thespian Dilip Kumar as much as any other cinephile. But, while acknowledging Dilip Kumar’s irreplaceable contributions to Indian cinema, Shah has raised a question “on whether his (Kumar) example as a star was worthy of emulation and whether he helped push the envelope toward progress or whether he facilitated the downward spiral of popular Hindi cinema into the total star-centricity in which it wallows today.”

In an opinion piece Naseeruddin Shah wrote for Indian Express, he stressed on how Kumar’s mode of expression did not follow the norms of “fake theatricality, arch voice-intonations, and constantly wagging hands.”

“His mesmeric stillness and impeccable poise established a paradigm for good acting in Indian films. His economy of movement and gesture seemed to be little understood by his peers and even by those who came after, though many superficially mimicked his style,” Shah said.

However, he added that despite Dilip Kumar‘s greatness, he did little to uplift his kind of cinema. Naseeruddin Shah added in his piece, “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.”

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The actor, who recently got admitted to Mumbai’s Hinduja hospital for pneumonia, asserted that Kumar, in his acting career, produced only one film and did not direct any officially. “He 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.”

Infact, Shah opined that Kumar’s autobiography was “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.”

In the article, Naseeruddin Shah wrote that Dilip Kumar is among the finest in the country, whose sheer presence could elevate a film. But, despite all the stardom, the legend “chose to play safe.”

First published on: 12-07-2021 at 17:11 IST
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