BHOPAL: Thespian Dilip Sahib has gone. The legend lingers. He will remain – and remain – forever in the heart of every Indian. He was more than an actor. An eminent actor and a noted film director and writer of the state capital had an opportunity to meet him. Dilip Sahib’s way of talking, his choice of words and his intellect held both of them in awe. He told them the seed of a successful play lies in its script. He never did any advertisements. He would say he could not advertise a product that he himself did not use. For him, the script of a film was what Hamlet says: The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.
Javed Khan, film actor
Like almost all Indian actors, Dilip Sahib was my idol. I first met him at the Shanmukhananda Hall in Bombay in the late 1970s. I was part of a fashion show, and he was the chief guest. We all were very keen to meet him. And, as luck would have it, we were told that he would be meeting us backstage during the intermission.
When he came, we all were tongue-tied. He broke the ice by praising me for appearing on the stage in new suits every couple of minutes. “How can you get into a new three-piece suit in a jiffy? I can’t do it. It takes me three hours to wear a suit,” he said, half jocularly. I met him informally many times in the office of my uncle, Ayub Syed, who used to bring out the weekly ‘Current’ from Mumbai. Dilip Sahib was my uncle’s friend and was a frequent visitor to his office at Jolly Makers Chambers at Nariman Point. I heard him sing songs, recite ghazals and relate anecdotes. He was, of course, an actor par excellence. But his legacy is far bigger than that. He shattered the image of a film star as merely a good-looking person who can deliver dialogues. He proved that actors can be persons of intellect and intelligence. His command of English and Urdu languages was beyond comparison. And he could talk about any topic under the sun. His speeches in Pakistan are gems to be heard over and over again. And the way he introduced Lata Ji to the audience at the Albert Hall in London was something no one can forget.
Rumi Jaffery, writer and director
Dilip Sahib had a very close relationship with Bhopal. His film, ‘Naya Daur’, was shot extensively in and around the city. In the city, he had many friends, including former municipal commissioner Devisaran.
He frequented the city as long as he was well. I had met him thrice: all those meetings took place in Mumbai. The first time was with Johnny Walker, the second time, alone and the third time with Govinda. He had an aura about him. His way of talking, his diction, his choice of words was superb. When I requested him to guide me on filmmaking, he said that “good films are made on the writing table and the editing table.” What he meant was that the script was most important. He told me that the directors of his films and he used to discuss the script and the characters of a film for months before it went on the floor. Dilip Sahib had certain convictions. For instance, he never did any advertisements. He used to say that he cannot endorse a product which he doesn’t use himself. Everyone who is born has to die, but we all were praying that he should not pass away during the Covid-19, so that he can get a funeral which he deserves. Unfortunately, that could not happen. Today, he had not died. He has become immortal.
(As told to Smita)