Unable to locate as yet, I have been looking for a personal photograph with the Dilip Kumar which was clicked when I met him way back in 1985 at his residence in Pali Hill Mumbai. That was my first meeting with him but then for more than a year that I stayed in Mumbai, we met several times. Dilip Saab just was a treat to listen, the way he articulated his words, his inimitable gesticulations and his capacity to bind everyone sitting with him with his magical narration
My meeting with Dilip Saab was purely incidental. I met Naushad saheb and interviewed him for my paper The Daily with focus on Mohammad Rafi. Among various stories that Naushad saheb recalled was also of the recording of a Kohinoor song “Madhuban me Radhika nachey Re” As per his version which I wrote was Dilip Kumar practiced playing the sitar for two months before recording this song, he refused to have a cut shot of someone else playing the sitar.
Dilip Saab office called me to point the error and I agreed to meet the thespian next day. Early morning I took a local to Khar station and then took a taxi to reach his residence. He was sitting with a group of people that included his personal physician Dr. Undre “Come” he got up and pulled a chair and made me sit next to him.
After the meeting was over, Dilip Saab turned towards me exchange pleasantries, making me comfortable and then said. “ I just wanted to tell you I did not practice playing the sitar for two months but it was for full nine months” I smiled and accepted it as my mistake “ Dilip Saab it is my mistake. “Asal me Naushad saheb nay nau (nine) Kaha hoga but I heard do mahiney (2 months) and hence this error. I will rectify it”
Then in his usual style, he told me he was very fond of that number. “ I even called Rafi saheb here to sing this song so I could read his facial expression while singing especially the Alaap” I was amazed the pain this method actor used to take to live up his role.
Later he told me so many stories about his young days and may be one day I will write them too. As I was getting up to take his leave, a group of locals came to meet him. Dilip Saab signaled me to stay behind.
As they all sat, the group leader opened up the discussion and said, ” Yusuf Bhai. We have come here to request your patronage on the political front that we have decided to float. Bas aapki sarprasti chahiye taki Hamari Baat aam logon tak pahunchey.” Then they briefed him about the proposed front whose main aim was to give voices to the poor and downtrodden section of the minority community.
Dilip Saab listened to the discussion attentively. ” Mera Naam Yusuf Khan hai per main Dilip Kumar bhi hoon.” (MY name is Yusuf Khan but I am also Dilip Kumar.) Then he told them it is not possible him to patronize any such front that targets one specific group. “ Bhai mujhey to aap door hi rakhen “and saying this he got up.
After they left, I could see Dilip Saab was slightly agitated and came out to drop me. “ Do you know whose house is this?” he asked me pointing to a huge wall that was touching his boundary. “ I said no”
“This is Sunil Dutt house. We are one family, we share food, celebrate festival, fly kites, his children have grown up playing in my lawns. Sunil is like my younger brother. So how can I patronize any such front that speaks only for one group.”
He also said that his fan following includes every religious group, “Will I not betray them? Kahan Kahan se chale aate hain”.
Returning home, I was very moved with every word that Dilip Saab spoke, the kind of India he was looking, the kind of society he grew up and wants those to flourish. His early days with Kapoor family, his bonding with Sunil Dutt where religion per se was always in the background. His words remained etched in my mind.
Only recently my friend from Allahabad Lt Gen Ata Hasnain, one of the most charismatic personalities of our time and a wonderful writer, made a wonderful observation that if the world wants to live with Islam it has to follow India. Speaking to a group of leading Iranian scholars a few months ago he said “India Muslims are unique; knows how to interact, and co exist with other communities especially the majority Hindu community. Over the centuries, the interaction has been so complete each knows each other.”
This according to Gen Ata was unique is way as nowhere else in the world, the Muslim society is exposed to such interactions
Gen Ata is right as there is a Dilip Kumar in very Muslim as he knows so much about the Hindu their festival, their celebration, their customs and all amalgamated to give Indian its unique rich pluralism.
It was this pluralism that came under attack by Puritan group like that of Zakir Naik whose senseless debate to establish the superiority of one religion over other, his bizarre logics all was aimed to create that wedge.
Colloquial usage with which we grew up was suddenly being replaced by Puritan Arabic colloquialism
Khuda Hafiz was to be replaced by Allah Hafiz, Ramazan to Ramadan, Id ul Zuha to Eid al Adha in a systematic infiltration to supplant the unique India way. It was for these reasons that I had opposed Zakir Naik and his likes for many years whose often weird logics only made me laugh.
It is not Naik alone, he is supplemented by characters like Togadiya, Sadhvis and others who preach hate and spew venom to compartmentalize the Indian society. India ethos has rejected these forces for long. The British divide and rule policy were not only for power grabbing but aimed to splinter India.
When the Britishers failed, they divided India. Their hope that India cannot survive for long given its inherent social contradiction has been belied. For seventy years India has survived this onslaught and remained united and grew stronger although forces have been plotting to wedge the India society. A divided house cannot even guard its frontier.
They will fail again.
India needs Dilip Kumars, not the hate mongers.
By Zia H. Rizvi, edited & compiled by Adam Rizvi