BHOPAL: The city has always attracted many Bollywood giants. The actor of actors, thespian Dilip Kumar, was no exception. His chord with the city and its surroundings was so deep-rooted that he frequented the city as long as he was in the pink of health.
The 98-year-old actor passed away in Mumbai on Wednesday. Many of his films were shot in and around the state capital.His films, Naya Daur (1957), Aan (1952), Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966) and Ganga Jamuna (1961) have been shot in Budhni, Mandu and Inodore. He stayed in Mandu for around two months for the shooting of Dil Diya Dard Liya.
Dilip Kumar admired the residents of the city, its verdure, its hillocks and its lakes; besides he loved Shero-Shayari the city presented. So intense was his love for Bhopal that he wanted to settle in the city after bidding adieu to tinsel town.
He stayed at the guest house of Union Carbide in Shyamla Hills, Bhopal, during 1956-57, when Naya Daur was shot. At that time, he attended a Qawwali of Shakeela Bano Bhopali for the first time at the residence of a friend Abdul Hamid. He helped a lot in making Bano’s career.
He stayed at BHEL’s guest house during a special screening of the movie Ganga Jamuna in 1962. He and his wife Saira Bano had also attended an event, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Tournament, at T T Nagar Stadium in 1994-1995.
He had also campaigned for Arif Aqueel and Suresh Pachauri during elections in Bhopal. He had addressed a public meeting at Imami Gate in Bhopal as part of Arif Aqueel’s election campaign. The state government honoured Dilip Kumar with Rashtriya Kishore Kumar Samman in 2014.
Former BMC Commissioner Devisaran said he had met Dilip Sahib thrice during his career in government service. The first time he met him was at the sets of Naya Daur in Budhni in 1950s. He was the Tehsildar there. Film actor Ajit was also there.
“Ajit had a great interest in hunting and so did I. We requested Dilip Sahib to join us but he refused. Ajit and I hunted in the jungles of Budhni the whole night,” he said.
The next time he met Dilip Kumar was at the airport of Indore where he was the ADM and the third time in Mumbai, on the sets of Dil Diya Dard Liya. Dilip Kumar was a sophisticated gentleman. He had keen eyes and could size up a person in no time. He was graceful, dignified and reserved. He did not like crowds. But talking to him was a great delight, said Devisaran.
Similarly, writer Rashid Anjum said the thespian had visited Bhopal twice or thrice. First, he came during 1956-57 for the shooting of Naya Daur. At that time, his friend Abdul Hamid had thrown a banquet in his honour.
Shakeela Bano Bhopali, the first female Qawwal of the country, had performed at the event. Dilip Sahib was very impressed and asked her to come to Bombay. The actor was a person of universal appeal. No one could remain unaffected by his personal charm, Anjum said.
Ghazal singer Zulfikar Ali said that he had a chance to meet the actor thrice in Mumbai. He said Dilip Kumar had attended a special screening of the film Ganga-Jumna at BHEL’s guest House in 1962. Dilip Kumar and his wife Saira Banu also attended a cricket competition at TT Nagar Stadium. He said that they were the chief guests in the event organised by Congress leader Gufran Azam in 1994-94. After this, Dilip Kumar came to Bhopal in 1998 to campaign for Congress leader Suresh Pachauri, Ali said.
Artist Raj Saini made a portrait of Dilip Kumar in oil in 2018. He wanted to present it to the thespian, but could not do so, because the actor was unwell. “I’m speechless. I’ve no words to define the great actor,” said Saini.