Updated: December 11, 2021 1:39:18 pm
Late artiste Dilip Kumar was regarded by many as India’s first method actor. In a career spanning an impressive five decades, Kumar brought forth a sense of realism to Hindi cinema which has been hard to maintain for his successors. And this is not overstating things by any stretch of the imagination, since Dilip Kumar was always regarded as a mainstream Hindi movie star who performed a variety of roles with seemingly considerable ease. Sure, there have been actors since then who have been lauded for their element of ‘naturalness’ they bring to the characters, but unfortunately, those artistes are not considered commercial Hindi film heroes by many.
On his 99th birth anniversary, it seems appropriate to revisit some of Dilip Kumar’s acting lessons he imparted, either through his interviews or performances.
Avoid being boxed
In a video uploaded by Join to Bollywood, Dilip Kumar is seen explaining about the fatality of labels. Speaking in Hindi, the acclaimed actor said that one should not get stuck with the kind of roles they are doing or are being given. Kumar said he was once asked why he chose to move away from the tragedy genre. The actor simply stated that he just wanted to try something different as he had already done a lot of tragic roles by that time. Kumar also opened up about the risk when one chooses to step away from the oft-taken road. “Sure, there is a risk when you experiment, but you should change it up. If people can predict your choices, that is the end of your mystery,” the actor said.
Creating a backstory, doing some homework
“If there is a script, you take your cues from there. But there are a lot of blank spaces too within the given story, and your job is to bring a person to life. For that, you need to know the person really well, and that is where I create a story around that character,” Dilip Kumar had once said in a BBC interview.
Filmmaking is a collaborative effort
No one person can make a full-length entertainer on their own. There is always a team of people working behind the scenes to make the magic happen, and this is what the talented Dilip Kumar believed in as well. “There were some scenes in movies like Gunga Jumna and Ram Aur Shyam where we had to make adjustments of our own, practically and emotionally, to see what was conceivable, and what could be pulled off on-screen. Sometimes we even used to direct and edit our own sequences. This is why no one person can take credit for making a film. It is a team’s responsibility,” Kumar had said in a BBC interview.
On propaganda films
Often, a well-intentioned movie, especially these days, goes out of its way to impart a certain lesson to the viewers, which is exactly what Dilip Kumar did not want in films.
“The effort should always be in the direction of making a good movie. I am against the so-called ‘instructional film’. You cannot preach about life through movies, at least not intentionally or directly. If the movie has a durable, decent conflict, it will speak for itself. That will have some effect on the audience, but you should not set out to make movies with that motive alone. I am against propaganda films,” Kumar told BBC.
Dilip Kumar was one of the most celebrated and talented artistes of Indian cinema. Some of his memorable movies include Jugnu, Aan, Devdas, Naya Daur, Madhumati, Gunga Jumna and of course, Mughal-E-Azam, among others.
Dilip Kumar passed away on July 7 in Mumbai this year after a prolonged period of illness.