What is right with Amar and wrong with Dilip Kumar

responding to this and somewhat in medias res..

For me that ‘risky’ sequence at the center of the film is somewhere between seduction and rape. More tilted towards the latter for sure. But consider the contexts of the 50s and the sorts of films that were being made. This is a very bold moment and it occurs within the bourgeois paradigm. How often have we seen this in Hindi cinema? Usually you have the villain doing the raping or in something like Damini the side character in an upscale bourgeois household who can easily be hated. In other words there are no ‘stakes’ for the viewer. There was that fantastically good moment in Aks where a possessed Bachchan forces himself on Nandita Das. It was very effective and the violence really came to the fore not least because of Bachchan’s magnificent portrayal. The great thing about Amar is that you have a normal bourgeois hero who in a moment of weakness forces himself upon a girl. This isn’t the over-dramatic, theatrical kind of rape sequence where the villain runs after the girl and she tries desperately to get away and so on. There everything is clear. But in this sort of moment there is ambiguity. The scene darkens out as Dilip Kumar approaches her. She resists of course but it is quite obvious that Dilip Kumar would hardly have raped her like a villain if she had truly resisted. And of course the film has already revealed that she is very attracted to Dilip Kumar herself. I don’t at all mean to suggest the old cliched ‘it’s really yes when it’s no’. But there is a gray area here. If I were to frame it in psychoanalytic terms I’d say that she herself wants Dilip Kumar to force himself upon her! In other words not that she secretly desires this but that this is the only way in which her desire for Dilip Kumar can be fulfilled in any fashion. In any case and at a more literal level my sense of the moment is that she genuinely resists him but upto a point. She is eventually ‘seduced’ by his violence. This is therefore not the usual rape sequence and this is also what is great about the film. The framework in which this moment occurs but also how it is treated.

In the second half the whole guilt angle is I think appropriate. The script has the structure of a classical Greek play in some ways (right down to the whole theme of cosmic justice). First the act, then the drawn out consequences. It is necessary for Dilip Kumar to struggle with the latter as this is what humanizes him further and at the same keeps the violence of the rape alive. In other words he is guilty but nothing is so simple in the film. This one moment simply destroys his otherwise very stable bourgeois framework. And this is what he has to wrestle with. There is no way for him to atone for his guilt without destroying his life. Now here I think the film would have worked better if there had been no pregnancy. The stakes of guilt would have been much more genuine without the ‘evidence’. Nonetheless I can forgive this in a film where everything else is in my view well-handled. The class angle here should not be missed either. It is unlikely that the dilip Kumar character of this film would have forced himself upon a woman of his class in any circumstance.

Note I said those two were the best Dilip Kumar films of that period. I didn’t really talk about performance. Dilip Kumar’s moodiness certainly suits these films. But in Amar he is perhaps far too introverted to do this character complete justice. In other words he seems throughout the film a character somewhat uninterested in his ‘environment’, including the people around him. The ‘rape’ then suddenly forces the character to engage with his world in a more authentic sense. But of course because of his guilt he is withdrawn now for a different reason. The two kinds of ‘withdrawal’ in the two halves though do not come across ‘differently’ enough. But this could be expanded into a larger critique of Dilip Kumar’s acting style (narcissistic as I have defined it) where the actor is really only interacting with himself and not necessarily with those around him. In other words the other characters are simply props for him to support his own ‘performance’. This is a tendency that Dilip Kumar increasingly developed over time though it is less apparent when he does lighter stuff. With the latter there is definitely a ‘watch how I do this’ economy but in the more serious moments he is basically an interior actor in the bad sense. And this comes through film after film in the 50s. A character struggling with his angst but not at all oriented towards the world. And these inner ‘withdrawals’ are once again not sufficiently modulated. and this is different from being an actor of reserve or doing the understated performance.

all of this though should not be read as a dismissal of Dilip Kumar. Far from it. I just see it as a problem with his mode of performance. Dilip Kumar was a kind of twisted Hamlet in this sense. Forever in dialog only with himself. And that lack of projection often comes across. Again not everywhere. There are very notable exceptions too but that ‘sullen boy’ note which because it isn’t varied enough spoils I think even his better moments. Ultimately then it comes down to mood. He is great at representing a certain angst-ridden mood but not not great at then carving a performance out of this. In some ways this tendency is evident even in the early Andaz where Raj Kapoor more expansive, spontaneous performance easily gets the better of his and many saw it this way at the time. And of course I am not even getting here into the bombastic completely over the top mode that he started developing in the 60s and which reached its pinnacle in his 80s work. Here I frankly find him insufferable at many points. More in the business of declamation than anything else. This does not mean that one cannot deliver a successful performance in a more theatrical or ‘operatic’ mode. Here I will cite the Black example which is precisely one where Bachchan is superb being over the top at many points (Agneepath is another example). Save for the introductory scene (with Bachchan) which I have never liked. Because this is done a bit like Dilip Kumar. Too exaggerated, too declaimed…

275 Responses to “What is right with Amar and wrong with Dilip Kumar”

  1. have not seen Amar- will look for this one now.
    I have enjoyed Dilip Kumar in Shakti, Vidhata, Saudagar, Devdas, Majdoor…
    mostly hated his B&W movies which used to be frequently shown on DD when I was growing up……
    recently saw Devdas and loved it though….

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    • I do enjoy watching him in many of his 80s films but in a bad way. The way he thunders in Kranti is great fun. And he’s in this sort of ‘extremely’ pitched moment quite often in many films of the 80s. The Mashaal sequence when his wife dies (this I actually find intolerable), or when he’s confronting Raj Babbar in Mazdoor and so on. It’s either the shrillness or the lecturing that sticks in the mind. He’s just a very pompous presence. Still engaging though. And Ghai barring Vidhaata always made a bit of a joker out of him. That ridiculous getup in Karma. Even Saudagar is a bit much. Dilip Kumar was also too much in love with his ‘Urdu’, He (in)famously rewrote a great deal of his dialog but you can also see how as an actor he tries to suck every last syllable out of every last word he delivers! Even great actors frequently become caricatures over time because they’re far too self-indulgent and they play to their ‘legend’ far too much. Repetition without difference tends toward the grotesque.

      And here it must be said that if Bachchan walked away from his image and his past glory beyond a point perhaps this was necessary. He would have stopped growing otherwise, always death to an actor.

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      • Ya I forgot to add Kranti also even I did not like him in that scene in Mashaal… what i have liked about him is that his pitch, his pauses, his body language – all of these tend to be in tune with the words that he is speaking. for example – in saudagar- the scene where he says to the officer that aaj bees bara sey tau kisi kee himmat nahee hui- “- he does not raise his voice and says it in a very subtle way …..

        BTW – the AB scene in in Arakshan-, where he says -” are you accusing me of being castiest? I found it to be is so boringly predictable!!

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  2. salimjakhra Says:

    I’ll read this write-up a bit later cos i’m in the middle of something at work, but I’ll just say that Amar had an incredible soundtrack.

    Tere Sadqe Balam – Apparently Lata fainted after 17 takes of this song, because of a line she couldn’t quite get right. Then on coming around she immediatley started singing again!

    Jaanewaale Se Mulaaqat Na Hone Pai – “Dil Mein Toofan Utha Phir Bhi Zubaan Khul Na Saqi”

    Na Milta Gham Toh Barbaadi Ke Afsaane Kahaan Jaate

    Na Shiqwa Hai Koi, Na Koi Gila Hai., Salaamat Rahe Tu, Yeh Meri Dua Hai

    Each is a gem, and Madhubala looks so beautiful. The picturisation of the last song on my list i particularly like.

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  3. salimjakhra Says:

    Nice write-up. I’ve actually not seen Amar (which I agree is unusual!). But as i said, the soundtrack is a favourite of mine.

    Dilip from the 50’s is an actor I really enjoy watching onscreen, possibly my favourite of all time.

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  4. @Satyam: I currently viewing the movie and will have more. I am trying to understand how a “rape” however unconventional can add meaning to a cinema (just because it was done in 50s and a different era and was “hate kay”).
    I have a different question for you though. I see you use the word “bourgeois” (normal bourgeois hero) frequently in your various analysis (along with some other favorite words). What do you mean by “bourgeois”? Is it used as pejorative? I know that the word can mean different things (in different era), so just want some clarity on it.

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  5. This reminds me of that wonderful Middle Ages play by Thomas Middleton, The Changeling… where the two ‘dark’ leads consummate in what is a rape turned into an actual consensual intercourse.

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  6. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Satyam: ” Dilip Kumar was also too much in love with his ‘Urdu’, He (in)famously rewrote a great deal of his dialog ..”

    That’s a very careless and factually incorrect statement. Where do see urdu in Nay Daur, Gunga Jamuna, Ram aur Shyam, Gopi, Sagina? Dilip Kumar always used language appropriate to his character. Or for thaht matter in Madhumati, Shakti, Mashal or Vidhata. Unless ” Hey bhai, gaadi roko’ is urdu for you.

    And he was a perfectionist when it comes to delivering his lines. One of the reasons I admire him so.

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    • It is actually quite well known that he used to rewrite his lines. He obviously couldn’t do it when he was speaking a dialect and but there are very many films of his, specially as he got older where the dialog stands out because it seems unusual relative to everything else that’s going on both in that film and other films. Check out even his last film Qila for a sample!

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  7. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Qila is a bad film. Period. I have mentioned films like Ram aur Shyam. Aadmi, Madhumati, Mashal, Vidhta..where he does not use too much high-flown Urdu. And if he wrote his own dilaogues ot was mostly for the beter as you can see in Shakti, Gunga Jamuna ( whichhe produced and some say ghost-directed) , Naya Daur, ram aur Shaym, Devdas, Mughal-e-Azam ..etc etc. Dialogues in these films have been considered a strength. In fact, I have cassette of dialogues from Dilp Kumar’s films and it’s wonderful listen any time ( Mugha-e-azam, Gunga Jamuna, Shakti, …I can right away remember.)

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    • First of all you’re ripping films one from the 50s, one from the 80s and so on. In many of his films beginning in the 60s but increasingly so in the later period the rewrites are obvious when you listen to the dialog. How does one know this? Because Dilip often uses a set of words not otherwise heard in the language of that period or within the film. Now he didn’t necessarily have as much freedom to do it in films with big directors. As for the films being better for this reason I disagree. The dialog comes off as affectation in many of these films. And it’s not about whether a film is bad or not. That’s a different debate. It’s about the lines. But note what your argument is here:

      1)He did not write his own lines
      2)Even if he did it’s for the better

      The logic is mutually exclusive!

      As I’ve said before I don’t have a problem with Dilip Kumar in the 50s beyond my critique of his performance style. Certainly I defended his extraordinary status in Hindi film annals just the other day. However beginning in the 60s Dilip Kumar became a rather self-indulgent actor and this is obvious in just about everything he does. Leader for example or even Ram aur Shyam. In the latter both the frightened bother and the cool city slicker are played in such exaggerated fashion. The latter is often fun to watch but this is nonetheless overdone. Or take the young son in Bairaag bordering on ridiculousness. And in the 80s he enters this very bombastic phase where he’s either shrill (the sad fact about Kranti is that he doesn’t seem better than Manoj Kumar here!) or simply in lecture mode (where the Urdu then comes in.. by the way I have nothing against Urdu but unlike the older 50s cinema where the language was really Urdu it became Hindustani over time but Dilip was still often insistent on being chaste!). These aren’t performances of nuance. These are about a legend, a grand actor simply celebrating his legendary status. Barring the Ghai films where he’s usually reduced to something silly. Shakti is probably his best outing in that decade though even here the temptation to overdo it and give the younger star a lesson in acting is never less than transparent!

      Again I actually enjoy Dilip Kumar in a bad way in the 80s. Even in stuff like Dharam Adhikari (LOL!) or Izzatdaar. Then there’s a much better film like Duniya (where notice how labored Dilip feels in front of the much more spontaneous Rishi, similarly in Vidhaata how much better Sanjeev is in that confrontation scene). But I enjoy most of his 80s films even if I think he’s often ‘bad’ in those films. To my mind he’s often ‘bad’ in the 70s too, little that he did. And in the 60s the decline begins, not referring to the box office or anything, just his mode of performance. Which does not mean that he doesn’t have strong moments at all in certain films. Just referring to the overall trajectory of his career and choices as an actor at that point.

      But again you have to be systematic about it. You can’t jump from Devdas to Shakti! Actors change over time for better or worse. One has to be precise about what phase one is referring to.

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  8. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Satyam, you are right about the self-consciousness creeping into his acting in the 60’s and beyond, and all the rest. But what I maintain is that in spite of all that he is brilliant and incomparable. A peerformance like Shakti is spellbinding. We are judging ram aur Shyam some 50 yrs later, still it is charming. It is the template for Seeta aur Geeta and Kisha Knanhaiya. Compare Ram aur Shyam to other double roles like Sacha Jhuta, Kishan Knhaiya, Great Gambler or Duplicate, and you will realise the gap between Dilip Kumar and other performers. In crass films like Kranti he is equally crass and in formulaic films like Karma or Saudagar he is equally formulaic. I dont even take these performances into account. And when you talk of his performances with good directors, not just in the 50’s , but even the 60s, 70’s and 80s ( Ganga Jamuna, Shkati, Sagina) he is incomparable. I havent found anything of the level of the scenes of Devads travelling in the train with his Man Friday aimlessly self-destructing, for example, in the entire annals of Hindi cinema. No one has that kind of ambition, that kind of control over the craft, or that kind of natural talent, when it comes to acting. No, there is no one to touch Dilip Kumar. Not really.

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    • Utkal, I know where you stand on Dilip Kumar but that’s not a view I subscribe to. I simply do not find him brilliant at any point in his career. The greatest double role on Hindi cinema to my mind is Bachchan’s Don. But I could also pick another example from his career like Kasme Vaade as well or Satte Pe Satta. Great Gambler is actually not the best example here because the two characters are not varied enough. And yes Ram aur Shyam is better than Anil Kapoor’s or Rajesh Khanna’s double roles.

      But leaving aside these comparisons I just don’t ‘see’ Dilip as brilliant and I have seen every film he’s starred in barring the first two (Jwar Bhata and Pratima). Many multiple times. Admittedly I’m not as well-versed in the 50s as I once used to be but I know Dilip Kumar’s career. So I just don’t agree with you.

      Also these things are generational. Once upon a time Dilip Kumar was considered Bombay cinema’s supreme actor and even through the 80s. But bachchan has taken that place since and very few hold that view anymore. Partly these things change over time but also if one has grown up loyal to an actor one does not find it easy to change one’s mind about him (or her). It’s kind of like the sportsmen one grows up with or comes to love. In any case these things become debatable but from my perspective I don’t see any other star in Bombay film history even occupying the same galaxy as Bachchan, let alone being comparable. By the way it’s not just Bachchan. I think Kamal, Mammootty, Mohanlal are all better than Dilip (also all better than Sivaji). Not that I think all three are the very same. But I find all of them superior to Dilip. But Bachchan is also simply post-Independence India’s greatest cultural force. Don’t believe there’s any doubt about this. He’s easily one of the most influential Indians of the nation-state once one is done with a few supreme political leaders. The ‘book’ on all of this has yet to be written. Bachchan is quite simply the Shakespeare of Indian cinema. Sure Hindi assures him a certain hegemony much as English and British colonization does the same for Shakespeare. This doesn’t mean that they are not titanic otherwise.

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  9. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Yes, DON is a great double role, but Kasme Wade though good, is a minor performance. So even if I allow DON and Ram aur Shyam as close, these are way superior to the double role sof Rajesh Khanna, Anil Kapoor or Sharukh Kahn ( the weakest). I am perhaps as much an admirer of amitabh as of dilip, and have no problem admitting that Bachchan alone among all in Hindi cinema is pretty close to Dilip, and they are in the same bracket. Bachchan does not have a performance of the same calibre or timbre as Devdas , Mughal-e-Azam or Sagina but he has Deewar, Amar Akbar Antony, Don and Paa. Yes, it’ s a generational thing and there you have to note how much Dilp dominated his generation as an actor and how Amitabh dominated his. I am trying to time travel 50 years forward, and I can see perhaps Vijay of Deeewar gaining the same kind of halo as say Devdas of Devdas and Jay of Sholay the same kind of glow as Salim of Mughal-e-Azam., and the Don and Vijay as charming as Ram aur Shyam Yeah.pretty close, I must confess.

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    • Bachchan already has that halo. His films are the ‘history’ of the age. On the rest of the comment fair enough.

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    • LOL.
      Dilip in Devdas!!!! Not that great.
      On a separate note, of all the stars targetted by Shiv Sena, no one deserves it as much as Dilip Kumar who apparently favored Pakistan over India and reportedly used to surreptitiously listedn to Pak radio commentary when India-Pak were playing even when in public places and favored Pakistan in those clashes!

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      • the ironic thing there was that he was also Bal Thackeray’s buddy for a long time drinking late into the evenings with him over poetic couplets!

        And yes Dilip has been a big Pakistan supporter. Don’t ask me how I know but I have it on the soundest authority imaginable. Of course this isn’t related to the argument at hand but it certainly displays his opportunism. I do not see 1)how someone who acquired legendary status in India could continue to support Pakistan in cricket, specially when he could have continued his career in Pakistan 2)I also don’t see how he could be on such good terms with Bal Thackeray for the longest time when the latter’s party revealed its ugliness from the very first day going after Tamilians in Bombay and so on.

        Again this doesn’t have anything to do with his position as a star or his competence as an actor but it fills out the biographical picture.

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  10. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Talking of ‘ history of the age ‘ let me quote Lord Meghnad Desai from his book on Dilip Kumar:

    ” In my view Dilp Kumar’s career is a reflection of the course of India since independence. To me, in many of the roles he played, he embodied certain heroic ideals of Indian mnahood. I use the plural ‘ ideals’ delibertaely for Dilip Kumar has played many chracters – rural, and urban, tragic and comic, passive and active, rich and poor. These roles form a pattern buta delibertae, consciously chosen pattern by which Dilp Kumar took his status as a role model seriously. As the mood of the independent India chnaged, the screen chracters he played aslo chnaged. Dilip Kumar’s career took off and rose to its peak during the time ( 1947-64) whwn Jawaharlal Nehru was India’s Prime MInister: 36 of his 57 films were made in this period.”

    Satyam, if you think I rate Dilip Kumar higher than amiatbh because I grew up on his films , let me inform you that I saw my first Hindi film in 1967, after this peak pahse of Dilip Kumar. ( It was Upkar, which I remember so vividly. My first Dilp film was Aadmi. Saw ram aur Shyam later the same year. The older films I caught in morning shows in re-runs, many of them much later)

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    • I find this reading rather superficial, even poor. What Dilip Kumar principally represented as the ‘tragedy king’ of the 50s is a certain post-Independence angst. Here I find the cinema of the 50s very appealing. I’ve made this point before but it’s rather remarkable that in the first real post-Independence decade the cinema is already one of ‘disappointment’ or blocked desire. It’s not just Dilip Kumar. The Chaplinesque Raj Kapoor is also an outsider to the system and of course his principal works are rather dark even when they are comedies. Dev Anand suggests in his own way a certain urban restlessness. He too has many pessimistic works and even his purer comedies have their darker moments. Collectively this trio offers hardly a celebratory account of the nation state. But Dilip Kumar with his near-neurotic persona in many of his films perhaps embodies this mood best. The lighter stuff that he did isn’t really most representative even when it does well.

      But the idea that he embodies ideals of any kind couldn’t be more wrong. He represents if anything the very opposite. The failed dream of nationhood, the failed attempt at masculine subjectivity. And so on. No great figure by the way represents ‘everyone’. Because there is always a consistent political charge across the oeuvre of an important career. So Bachchan for example does very many roles very convincingly but these are united by certain ideological patterns. He’s not playing everyone. Which is why the rickshawalas always loved him more than the aunties (to use that old cliche). But Bachchan has been universal in a very different way. How? Because the subjectivity he creates becomes the norm. Whether people were for him or against him he re-defined the entire field of cinematic space. This wasn’t true for Dilip Kumar who even at his peak had very close rivals in Dev and Raj Kapoor. Desai means ‘everyone’ in the blandest sense and I think he’s completely off the mark here in defining Dilip Kumar that way.

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    • It’s not necessarily growing up but about the first star/films that truly define one in some sense. Many who were defined by Rajesh Khanna never quite got over him and could never quite accept Bachchan in any normal sense. Growing up with someone is the usual route for a lifelong fascination/obsession but it isn’t necessarily the only one.

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  11. Alex adams Says:

    Just bak from switzerland…..
    Utkal vs satyam …. Bring it on!

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  12. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    To quote Meghnad Desai again:

    ” To those unfamiliar with his films, Dilp Kumar resembles Marlon Brando whose career, interestingly, covers the same span. When Brando 9 with his animal charm) and Dilp 9 with his brooding tragic persona) exploded on the screen, they drove men and women wild with adulation. Over the years both these actors have come to be regarded as symbols of the times in which they live and have dominated the film industry in a unique way. ….Their film appearances became infrequent at about the same time in the 1970s, yet every new film from each still marks an imprtant event and is remembered mainly for his role in it – Brando in Apocalypse Now, Dilip Kumar in Shakti. Almost 50 years after their debut, Marlon Brando and Dilip Kumar continue to command a huge fee, are accorded top star billings and have fans who still await their next film. Such long careers in films, especially at the top, are rare in film industyries round the world. Dilp Kumar is over 80 and still going strong. ” ( The book was published in 2004)

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    • Can you really buy an analysis that is so factually wrong? Dilip was about 70 when Qila released. What has he done since?! The Brando comparison is itself misplaced because Brando himself has done very few films over his career and when you take out his peak phase other than Godfather and Apocalypse (each a relatively short part) there is nothing else. Brando won’t be remembered for his other outings since Apocalypse. But here’s the point I would make. Brando remains relevant to contemporary Hollywood. Dilip Kumar isn’t anymore for Bollywood. Now I think this is because of the absence of a genuine film culture in Bombay to nurture the narrative of the past. But let’s not be too hasty here also. Because Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt have done quite well/ The fact is that Dilip Kumar’s films don’t speak to anyone anymore and I would argue this is because they are not great enough. There is nothing Dilip has even in the 50s that can be set aside Shree 420 or Awara, or the three important Guru Dutt works or a Jaagte Raho. Now I certainly think some of his stuff (I’ve already mentioned Amar and Footpath) deserves to be better know. Madhmuati for example is a masterpiece. But the problem again is that he has some very good films and/or classics but not ‘great’ films that transcend the ages. Mughal-e-Azam for example while very iconic for an entire generation is not much more than pulp history (and even as this it is hardly comparable to a Ben-Hur). Enjoyable for sure but it’s the equivalent of an epic Hollywood production not the equivalent of cinema that aspires to be greater than a spectacle. It is not a profound film. Mera Naam Joker, such a disaster in its initial run, easily surpasses the fortune of every Dilip Kumar film since. Of course over time even authentic achievements get sidelined only to resurface later. Some are buried forever. But my point here is that most of Dilip Kumar’s oeuvre is neither among Bombay cinema’s greatest commercial triumphs (if I were to make a list of 30 greatest Hindi films there would be very few Dilip Kumar works on it) which is to say commercial cinema that is also very intelligent and nor is it on the other side among the same industry greatest ‘auteurist’ moments.

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  13. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    “The fact is that Dilip Kumar’s films don’t speak to anyone anymore and I would argue this is because they are not great enough. There is nothing Dilip has even in the 50s that can be set aside Shree 420 or Awara, or the three important Guru Dutt works or a Jaagte Raho.”

    Really? That’s why Mughal-e-Azam released nearly 50 years after its initial release alongside Ver Zaara and Aitraz manged to draw crowds and make money. Mughal-e–Azam, Devdas , Naya Daur can proudly stand aside Awara or Pyaasa.

    And you say, ” But my point here is that most of Dilip Kumar’s oeuvre is neither among Bombay cinema’s greatest commercial triumphs .” Really? MughaleAzam is listed as an Allyime Blockbuster by Boi and all box office sites. Gunga Jamuna, Madhumati, Naya Daur are Blockbusters. Azaad, Aan, Nastik, Paigham,Ram aur Shyam, superhits. All this just out of 35 ood films leading man. In fact the fees he commanded were highest and ahead of his cotemporaries by miles because of his unfailking box office status. But we are not talking so much of that as about his charismatic actor’s persona. a la Brando. Kmal Hsasn, or mamooty or Mohanlal or in fact Raj kapoor or Gurudutt are not Dilip Kumar, just as De Niro or Al Pacino or Gary Cooper or Gregory Peck are not Brando.

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    • What’s Nastik? Other than the Bachchan starrer I am only aware of a 50s Ajith starrer with that title. By the way you’re again just picking out films from all over the place. You’re basically covering a 20 year period here! By the way I do agree that he has a great success rate for his peak period which ends by the early 60s. Everything Dilip did between Gunga Jumna in 1961 and Kranti in 1981 flopped or did poorly with the exception of Ram aur Shyam in ’67. That’s 20 years in which he had a total of 10 films. But from the late 40s till Gunga Jumna he has no doubt an excellent success rate but which he why he was ‘first among equals’. You forget I offered the most comprehensive defense of his career just the other day! But remember with even that great success rate the word ‘superstar’ wasn’t invented for him. Because for a brief period Rajesh Khanna took box office success to a whole different level, something unprecedented and Bachchan of course took it even further by doing it for many many years. Words like ‘hits’ or ‘superhits’ can be misleading because one is often not talking about the same magnitude. The Bombay box office peak precisely coincides with those moments where Rajesh Khanna and Bachchan are at their heights! Hindi cinema never reached a greater audience than in this period. Before this it was more or less a ‘bourgeois industry’ and not comparable at all to the industries of the South (Tamil or Telugu) which worked off a much larger (more universal audience) base. In this sense Dilip isn’t the equivalent of NTR or Sivaji or MGR. Because those stars penetrated every class of their audience. Dilip Kumar certainly through his peak 50s period has a cinema for the classes more or less which is why he never quite gets the grosses Raj Kapoor does in his most iconic films. with exceptions of course. Aan for example was a lot more ‘massy’ and again had the big technicolor deal at the time. But again I’m not denying Dilip Kumar’s significance. It is however important not to make him into an Amitabh before Amitabh! And one also has to be clear about the films.

      On Mughal-e-Azam re-releasing in color if you compared this with what those Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt films have been doing and even globally there would be no comparison. As for that film and Naya Daur standing alongside Awara or Pyaasa I think that’s an appalling judgment. I could at least see the aesthetic case for Devdas. You’d be surprised to learn how often Awara is taught in film schools around the world. Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt have had many retrospectives around the globe and of course there have been very many for Bachchan. I don’t remember one for Dilip Kumar. Even in India his films just about see no re-runs. The recent colorization is just a fad. In any case I wouldn’t even compare Naya Daur to Footpath or Amar let alone Awara or Pyaasa!

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  14. Poor Brando is turning in his grave over and over again.
    Koi to rok lo! Yeh Utkal sathiya gaya hai!
    OK,Utkal- we get your point that you like DK a lot.But, you are not winning any arguments by talking MEA,Naya Daur and Devdas over and over again.Dilip Kumar was very successful and in some way quite talented.Just not as much as you like to think. And, he had a very successful career. Again,not as much as you like to think.
    Just watch Bairaag and saara nasha utar jayega. That film symbolises his limitations and narcissism.Apparently, they filmed 108 reels for the fim and they come up with this horrid ,expensive flop. And, almost drove Asit Sen to suicide.

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  15. And, please dont quote Meghnad Desai who is an unabashed fan and his words or praise really dont carry much weight on their own.

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  16. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    And the quantity wise Brando did some forty odd films , starting with The Men in 19050 and A street Car Named Desire in 1951 going to Dr Moreau in 1996 and The Score in 2001. And considering that actors in Hollywood do much fewer films ( 45 films of Al pacino compared to some 170 films of Bachchan) this is not an inapt comparison. The key point of commonality is the charismatic . stylized performance of both actors.

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    • Brando is known for at the most half a dozen films! Again no one’s denying how iconic he was but Dilip just wasn’t the Brando of his age. Their images were completely different.

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  17. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    And frankly I can watch Mughal-e-Azam start to end more easily than Awara Paasa, or Shree 420. These films have flashes of brilliance no doubt but also patches of insufferable indulgences. Mughal-e_azam in comparison sports a far superior dramaturgy and fine technical achievements without showoffy artiness. Films like Nya Daur, Ganga Jamuna and Madhumati are not as compellling as Mughal-e_Azam today, but are very watchable narratives even today unlike many of Raj Kapoor or Dev Anand films. As to Mera Naam Joker the first part is a fine film, but the third part is full of bathos and the second part .a whole lot of sentimental mush. Pretty mateur stuff really when compared to far more touching film on the same theme, the Tamil autograph by Charan. ( Even if you compare the first parts Autograph has so much more natural charm and so less ciontrivance.)

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    • “And frankly I can watch Mughal-e-Azam start to end more easily than Awara Paasa, or Shree 420”

      You are frankly in a minority of 1 with that taste!

      Again you’re confusing personal opinion with the facts. I am for example not the greatest Guru Dutt fan but I know how his reputation has just sky-rocketed across the globe and within India. Raj Kapoor has never been less than current. This is not about personal taste. You remember I’ve had an argument with you on Dil Se and Raavan as well. The problem is you find it very hard to accept the significance of films that don’t appeal to you. Awara for example is one of the greatest Indian commercial films by any stretch of the imagination. You might find it hard to watch (although I cannot fathom how the bloated MeA is an easier watch than Awara! but that’s just me!) but so what? That’s fine as a person opinion but it can’t be confused with a statement of fact.

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  18. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    And I should add Vidhaata and Kranti to his list of Blockbusters. ( http://www.boxofficeindia.com/showProd.php?itemCat=125&catName=MTk4MC0xOTg5) That is one ATBB and 5 Blockbters from 50 films, and rajen thinks he does not have as successful career as I think? Yes Biraag wasa flop , so was Mahaan. Whatt does it prove. You dont judge Amitabh’s talent by his performance in Bairaag or gabga Jamuna Saraswati or Jaadugar.

    Meghnad Desai is declaredlya fan. But imagine the kind of impact Dilip Kumar had on his generation fora man of Desai’s stature to take the time out to write the book and put his reputation at stake by decalring his all-out admiration so openly.

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    • He always had blockbusters with Ghai as did Jackie Shroff! Every other film of his failed in the 80s. Even Shakti by Bachchan standards was an underperformer though it otherwise did comfortably as all Bachchan underperformers did. Kranti is the only other example of a blockbuster but this too has half the industry in it. There is nothing in dilip Kumar’s career after 1967 for which he is the decisive box office factor.

      Anyway I have to take care of some stuff now. Will look at this thread later. But let’s agree to disagree. I think we have very different opinions on this. I would have hoped for an agreement on the facts but this too is perhaps not to be had.

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    • “That is one ATBB and 5 Blockbters from 50 films, and rajen thinks he does not have as successful career as I think?”

      Bachchan had all of that in one or two years sometimes! Rajesh Khanna too for his peak period.

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  19. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Bloated MEA. How does a 1955 film run in regular shows in 2000s, if it is not watchable? And as far as reputations films like Awara goes I am not overawed by them. I make my own judgments. Awara isa fine film but has too much of Raj Kapoor mush. In comparison MeA is a far manlier narrative and far more subtle in its politics., the conflict between Salim and Akbar , between eros and duty , similar to the conflict between antigone and creon. It is much underrated film in my opinion.

    And I still think Dil Se and Raavan are Ratnam’s weakest films., hnourable failures , yes, but resounding failures nevertheless. (It’s not about box office, because I rank Iruvar and Kannthil among his best 5 or so.)

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    • “I make my own judgments”

      I do too but I also learn from the judgments of those who know more than me or think more deeply than I do! I am not my own ultimate reference!

      Anyway I’m done with this debate. I think we’ve said everything we possibly could on Dilip!

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    • On MeA running well that generation is not extinct yet!

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  20. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Sorry to disappoint you, but Bachchan has jsut one ATBB ( Sholay) and three Blockbusters ( Muqadar Ka Sikandar, Amar akbar anthony, K3G) in his entire career of 170 films. and I am using the same source for both so that we have fair comparison ( http://www.boxofficeindia.com/showProd.php?itemCat=124&catName=MTk3MC0xOTc5)

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    • BOI is just about my last source on Bachchan! MKS is an all time blockbuster by any stretch of the imagination as is a film like AAA or for that matter Trishul. But again it’s not just about this but also the magnitude of the grossers (something BOI again don’t reflect.. the idea that adjusted for inflation Sholay is only 30 crores ahead of MeA is preposterous).

      Let’s get serious Utkal. One can have differences of opinion but let’s not start grasping at straws here. BOI is a known anti-Bachchan outfit. To question Bachchan’s record is to question Bradman’s record. If this is where the conversation is going I’m going to stop responding. LOL!

      Also the debate doesn’t end with calling a film a blockbuster. It’s about what standards are used. The Bachchan standards were in different stratosphere altogether. His blockbusters are actually too many to start counting offhand. Everyone but the worst partisan knows this. and BOI know this too. They have Bachchan pretty much on top every single year for a decade or more but they downgrade the films and privilege some of their favorites in the present and from an earlier period Dharam.

      On Bachchan’s box office my stance is simple — no negotiation! I have the same stance on Bradman or Sachin too.

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  21. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    “On MeA running well that generation is not extinct yet!”

    and where did that generation mysteriously disappear when it came to Hum Dono?

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  22. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Precisely. I insist that MEA is among the most watchable films from that era. Most other films have to be watched academically, as study material.

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    • MeA was helped by the colorization thing being a spectacle and so on. And obviously it’s been an iconic film. But it’s really a one off. Did quite well for a rerun but we’re talking about Dilip Kumar’s oeuvre here, not just one film. And you still have an older generation around here. Within 10-15 years I doubt you’ll get anyone for this film. Raj Kapoor won’t have that problem.

      MeA is not more watchable than NAya Daur. The latter is quite entertaining. If anything MeA is a much slower affair. It’s just that Dilip’s films don’t speak to anyone anymore.

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  23. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    It’s not just BoI. Every box office source I know admits that Dilip Kumar’s success ratio is unparalled, a bit like Bradman’s. Amitabh’s is like achin, more innings , more runs, but the average cannot touch Bradman, that is Dilip Kumar.

    And what is so amazing about MEA’s success? It was the Sholay of its time. Just because you dont want to accept it does not change facts.

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    • Dilip Kumar’s success ratio is the best over a career, no doubt there but one has to deeper into the numbers. Or one must also consider other things. Like his having a hit or two in a 20 year period! But also because Dilip Kumar has far fewer films off peak. It’s not like Bachchan who was in demand in every sort of setup even when he was visibly off peak and ended up doing most of those and hence diluting his ratio. Also Bachchan had many more films before he became successful. To put it differently let’s compare their peak periods. Dilip from the late 40s to about 1961. Bachchan from about ’73 to 1986. Bachchan’s success rate here is the greatest I have seen for any actor or star in any industry I am aware of for its concentration, its scale, it’s longevity and so forth. There is not even a comparison here between his magnitude and Dilip’s, But also Bachchan hardly has failures if these are defined as films that actually lost money. Just a bare handful. It’s a stunning stat that as I said is not equaled by any star in any other industry I am aware of, western or eastern. And I have believe it or not spent some time looking at various star careers in different industries from Italy to Japan!

      Actually Bachchan is precisely both Bradman and Sachin. And Dilip is neither. This is the point you’re rather weak on. The concentrated success and the magnitude that defines a superstar was seen for the first time in BOmbay cinema with Rajesh Khanna. The tag was invented for him. The next was Bachchan who of course had enormous longevity. Dilip had a fantastic success ratio for sure but it’s just not the same thing. And of course there are all sorts of ways to measure this stuff. Every which way you run the numbers Bachchan is on top barring the ratio because his volume is just so much greater. It’s like Aamir’s ratio is close to a 100% over this past decade. Doesn’t mean he’s more successful than Bachchan was at his peak. And this is the model you need to look at with Dilip. Remember Aamir now has two massive grossers. Specially 3I.

      Anyway this is not a debate I’m willing to pursue further. Just think that calling Dilip Bradman is ridiculous because Dilip never had Bradman’s magnitude. Rajendra Kumar was known as the Jubilee Kumar in the 60s because of all the jubilees he had. He was the top Bombay star for most of the 60s. Doesn’t mean he was Rajesh Khanna. So one has to be careful.

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    • Yes SHolay of its time, sure, but that doesn’t mean the very same magnitude. The difference on IBOS when adjusted for inflation between the two films is simply massive.

      Anyway this is a pointless debate. I am certain on these things because I have spent far too many years obsessing with the box office and looking at very many sources. But I don’t think I can change your mind if I haven’t so far!

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  24. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Naya Daur is more entertaining on surface. MeA is more sophisticated. It is slow. Has very little sentimentality. Does not have a cmoic sidekick like Mukri. Does not have a villain like Ajit or Pran. Still it manages to engage purely because of its superior dramaturgy and accomplished film-making and the charisma of the three main leads. The kind of film that makes me proud of Bollywood. An eternal story with great undertones.

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    • ” Still it manages to engage purely because of its superior dramaturgy and accomplished film-making and the charisma of the three main leads”
      MeA: High drama+awesome poetic dialogues+ great acting+great plot+one of the very best sets, opulent, mindblowing+awesome music-songs+on screen chemistry bet. protagonist and heroine
      It is as close to perfection as perfect could be.

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  25. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    “Actually Bachchan is precisely both Bradman and Sachin. And Dilip is neither.”

    I have disproved that with the record of blockbusters that Dilip had compared to amiatbh. Even if you add or subtract one two , it wont make a difference even when you consider the peak period: about 35 films of Dilip vs 100 or more of amitabh. Yes, dilip did much fewer films. But Bradman too playyed much fewer innings.

    Even in his peak Bachchan had many more flops like alaap, imaan dhram, farar, shaan, etc compared to just Dil Diya dard Liya and amar of Dilip Kumar. aAnd what is this about just 1973-86? It’s like taking Sachins’ average over the best 5 years. You have to consider the entire period. That is Meghnad Desai’s point. To stay at top for nearly 50 years. Even while doing Shakti Dilip is considered a star o par with amiatbh, in spite of the latter’s scorching success. (That does not happen with amitabh when he is pitted against Shahrukh. ) If that is not the mark of a superstar, then what is ?

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    • Hey, DK is both Dravid and Vengsarkar!
      Actually, your shrill support for DK is doing him a disservice. He is iconic but your insistence on claiming your opinion to be facts hurts his case. But, enough of this pointless argument. You are free to have your opinion of DK but, please dont try to push it down our throats. Suffice to say, my idea of great acting is not watching a man making love to himself and kissing his reflection on screen!

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      • If you feel necessary to compare Shakti with K3G to proveyour point, it just goes to show how delusional your argument is.
        Shakti was a fairly good film but flawed. I do accept that overall perception is tht DK did have an upper hand in Shakti but that is largly a function of script and somewhat uni-dimensional character etched for AB. I think that also explains why a film which other wise had evrything going for it didnt exactly set the BO on fire. A lasting image for me from Shakti is Amitabh and MsPatil cavorting to the soulful Jaane Kaise Kab Kahan as opposed to DK looking absolutely ridiculous and out of sorts in Mangi Ek Dua.

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        • Interestingly that reception of Shakti has itself changed. Today no one thinks Dilip is better in the film. Do agree that Bachchan’s character doesn’t have enough nuance here. But nonetheless no one today feels this. The problem was that earlier there was a certain marriage between an older Dilip-marked generation and newer bourgeois one that always had its unease with Bachchan. Dilip then became the incomparable actor. Not that he wasn’t considered so in his generation but a certain ‘politics’ of supporting Dilip Kumar emerged in Bachchan’s peak age.

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          • Bhalo_Manush Says:

            “Today no one thinks Dilip is better in the film.”

            How can you say this…do u think ur opinions are every body’s opinion or did u do a polling for this??…I am not getting into the debate Amitabh V/s DK here..but in Shakti.. DK was definitely better than AB…

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          • LOL, some unintended irony in your statement here with that definiteness at the end!

            How do I know this? Just as I know that an earlier generation always preferred Dilip in the film. Didn’t take polls either way. Both could be wrong!

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          • ” newer bourgeois one that always had its unease with Bachchan”
            Don’t know what you are talking about..it was precisely this bourgeois ones that loved the bigb and made him what he was/is. Methinks anyways.

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          • Bhalo_Manush Says:

            “How do I know this? Just as I know that an earlier generation always preferred Dilip in the film. ”

            So u know this that’s why u can claim anything….I also know that Dillip kumar was top star at his time…so i can claim every one says Vinod Khanna is better than Big B in MKS and it will be valid statement…

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    • Some of your claims are fantastical. The idea that Dilip was considered to be on par with Amitabh at the time of Shakti is MAD with all due respect. As is the rest of what you’ve been saying with respect to the box office. As long as it was about the performances there could be a debate. But on the box office your claims are bizarre! By the way I used the peak periods of both stars but even as entire careers Bachchan is getting solo hits almost 40 years after his first in Zanjeer. Dilip didn’t have one after ’67 which 21 years after his first hit. What you have “disproved” is to your own mind only! But the debate has now gone into Alice in Wonderland terrain and I would feel a bit silly to keep debating this.

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      • Bhalo_Manush Says:

        “By the way I used the peak periods of both stars but even as entire careers Bachchan is getting solo hits almost 40 years after his first in Zanjeer”

        But at his peak period he was doing all multi starrers with Rishi, Vinod khanna, Dharmendra, Shashi kapoor etc…BTW which was his last solo hit??? Black in 2005??

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        • Well Paa can be treated as a solo because of the kind of part he had.

          As for the multistarrers not that again! LOL! You’d find good company on some other blogs. You’d at least be able to apply for employment at BOI!

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          • Bhalo_Manush Says:

            “Well Paa can be treated as a solo because of the kind of part he had.”

            Lol…and you accuse others being biased…..funny statement…read it again urself and have a good laugh….

            “You’d at least be able to apply for employment at BOI!”

            No i don’t need that…I have my own job…Now you are behaving like congress govt …who ever is against them must be with RSS be it Anna hazare or Baba ramdev….You have always problem wid BOI but you will post garbage from IBOS…

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          • the thing is it’s fine to have opinions but there’s a point at which one enters the realm of the non-serious and I have to respond accordingly. On Paa yes Abhishek’s there but the whole point of the film was Bachchan’s extraordinary character and his look and so on. So while not literally a solo it can be treated as one from this perspective. But then again from your perspective there’s Shashi Kapoor’s Deewar and Rishi Kapoor’s Naseeb.

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    • AamirsFan Says:

      box office wise there is no debate on who the overall bigger star was/is…thats Amitabh Bachchan. He changed the whole box office, selling products from his films, everything. As far as acting wise there is a debate but in my opinion Amitabh Bachchan has better versatility as an actor and therefore the better actor. like ive said many times, what Amitabh did was he perfected everything DK did or attempted to do. My comparisons stem from many drunk scene’s that DK and Amitabh did and Amitabh’s are more natural. I cringe today when any actor even attempts to do drunk scenes, it just doesn’t look right(ex: SRK in OSO accepting his fake Filmfare award).

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  26. alex adams Says:

    “yeah was wondering where you were.. some of the masala was missing here!”–had a gr8 time around Lucerne grappling with Swiss beauty lol
    Like to cut myself totally from all multimedia, internet and even mobiles on such sojourns………
    but still was more “hectic” than i expected lol and not surprisngly feel “spent” rather than “refreshed”—not only due to the obvuious reasons lol
    Nice to see this interesting debate.
    Utkal–we need more of u here since u bring an interesting perspective from another era, which we due to the age factor maynot be able to, inspite of the best “vision” and “intention”
    BUt a comparison of the post age of 50 “achievement” proves that Bachchan actually takes it past DK by some margin…
    There is also a point of “range” and “versatility” and one doesnt even need to talk about DK in something like Aks or Bhootnath, forget something like Black or Paa…
    Having said that, I do have a soft corner for DK esp recently when I have seen his work (most of which for the first time)
    There was a certain gravitas , old world charm, dignity and ” strength” in the 50-60s DK .
    Infact, purely as an actor, DK is the one i admire and respect after Bachchan (with all the limitattions of DK, this is saying a lot)
    I have always felt that soemtimes “quality” over rules everything.
    For eg-DKs collaboration with Bimal Roy is perhaps one of the best ever in hindi cinema.
    ust wirh a few songs like “khwaja ji” or the ones from D6 alone( just as an eg), AR Rahman trumps everything else from india —in his case there is much much more one can bring into comparison (if needed)

    Coming back to DK—The person who is acting in Kranti or the Subhash ghai films does seem to me, a totally different person.
    The peerless regal and dignified quality seen in Amitabh has been seen by only one other actor to me and that is DK.
    I recently watched portions of Shakti again and was again surprised to see what DK got away with,.
    Cmon, Bachchan at THAT stage and form was invincible and literally unbeatable.
    And DK really not only gives him a run for his money but perhaps wins the day—and if Im saying this—i have analysed this quite well…
    The reasons of how this was possible (against the “run of play”) for this is also another topic and will go into it another day.
    It actually doesnt even matter to me about what the ageing DK did (which i agree was quite subpar at times and sometimes a bit embarrassing eg in Qila)
    When one passes a certain level, the number of times he does that or the “rate” doesnt really matter beyond a point.
    A Pritam or VS or the crowd of mediocrity can NEVER produce “rehna tu” (D6) or most of what AR Rahman comes up with, even in “moment of sudden brilliance”
    DK in Bimal Roys films was pure, peerless, and unmatched.
    And the magnitude is enuf for dk to be placed just below Amitabh in the overall stakes (purely as a star actor)
    As for “taking everything into account”, Raj Kapoor comes ahead of DK (after Bachchan)—as pointed out earlier..

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  27. alex adams Says:

    About DK, would also like to add that im “amused” by some of his idiosyncracies…
    a) why does he scratch his forehead in almost every scene where he needs to “create an impact”
    b) y does his volume of voice go DOWN in crucial junctures and key scenes ( as in “highly effective speakers” manuals
    c) y did he do only 50 odd films in such a long career when he could have easily gone into overdrive..
    d) never did an advert or a “guest appearance” or a paid show or appearance
    There is undoubtedly soemthing narcissistic and even arrogant bout him —and as someone said, he developed this quite early in his career.
    However, wont get bothered by this behavioral abberation.
    These type of attitudes are bothersome if some lesser mortals start harbouring them. DK (Yusuf Khan) somehow carried this attitude well since he had the credentials and dignity to not look v odd with them..

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  28. alex adams Says:

    “This isn’t the over-dramatic, theatrical kind of rape sequence where the villain runs after the girl and she tries desperately to get away and so on. There everything is clear. But in this sort of moment there is ambiguity. The scene darkens out as Dilip Kumar approaches her. She resists of course but it is quite obvious that Dilip Kumar would hardly have raped her like a villain if she had truly resisted. And of course the film has already revealed that she is very attracted to Dilip Kumar herself. I don’t at all mean to suggest the old cliched ‘it’s really yes when it’s no’. But there is a gray area here. If I were to frame it in psychoanalytic terms I’d say that she herself wants Dilip Kumar to force himself upon her! In other words not that she secretly desires this but that this is the only way in which her desire for Dilip Kumar can be fulfilled in any fashion. In any case and at a more literal level my sense of the moment is that she genuinely resists him but upto a point. She is eventually ‘seduced’ by his violence.”—Agree…
    Some interesting and even intriguing mix on the “politics of rape”.
    Are there any points or crevices of a girls mind where she “wants” to get “raped” in a subconscious manner.
    And would invite the views of the female members here–perhaps they have more “insight” on these “vagaries of the mind”
    Also, to be taken “maturely” and not in a derogatory manner…..just an interesting psychoanalytical situation!!

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  29. Not a bigfan of MeA either. Am not sure what the fuss is about. It actually manages to reduce a somewhat iconic lover story to humdrum. A great sound track.Only thing that leaves an impression is Prithvi Raj’s OTT theatrical performance. One of my less liked DK performances. OTOH I loved the DK-Raj Kumar face-off in Saudagar which was a bucketful of fun even if caricaturial.

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    • yes absolutely.. in that hyper-stylized theatrical mode Prithviraj is great. On Saudagar I too enjoy it but here Dilip Kumar seems reduced to Raj Kumar’s level!

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  30. A DK film that I enjoyed but somehow didnt succeed was Duniya..

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    • yes mentioned this earlier in the thread.. here I prefer Rishi Kapoor’s spontaneity.. Dilip Kumar was lumbering in comparison… but it’s a film I’ve seen many times.

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  31. alex adams Says:

    have never managed to see Mughal e aazam in its entirety…now thats a confession.
    in fact dont care bout it…
    Another big one comin up now………….
    dont adore sholay THAT much….although dont have doubts about sholays iconicity , cult status, near perfect screenplay and dialogue,
    In some ways, MeA was to DK, what Sholay was to Amitabh…

    Another one coming up
    In some wayz, BAchchan is the 10dulkar to DKs Gavaskar……..
    One has to add someone like “viv richards” to the “gavaskar “to come up with “10dulkar”..

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    • Actually Sholay has never been one of my favorite films either. But like yourself I don’t deny it’s seminal significance. And this has been one of my debates with Utkal and in fact with others in different contexts. Some things are not debatable. So for example I would any day take Deewar over Sholay but I also know that while the former too is very seminal and influential the latter is simply ‘culture’ at this point. Deewar itself has some of the most well known lines around but Sholay is at another level yet. I personally prefer Trishul to Deewar that the former as a factual matter will never be the equal of the latter in any sense. And Deewar ultimately is probably the greater film anyway. So it’s one thing to have alternative preferences, even radically different ones and quite another to have an alternative version of history. Much as I said in the context of cricket some time back I have no problem with anyone who likes watching Laxman to watching Sachin or prefers the former stylistically and so on. But don’t tell me he’s greater than the latter. The funny thing is I was defending Dilip Kumar recently. I was very annoyed the other day when Idea said what he did about Aamir being greater. Utkal on the other hand has provided us with the symmetric opposite of Idea’s statement! Both views so excessive and in the first place because they’re so oblivious to the facts. How could one possibly believe that Dilip was at the top for 50 years when he wasn’t even at the top in the 60s?! anyway it’s not about one or the other specific example. It’s about a way of thinking. It’s hard to get reasonable debates going when just about any claim can be made and the most obvious facts denied.

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      • “I personally prefer Trishul to Deewar …”
        I really don’t see anything of depth or importance in Trishul, in terms of plot or character or acting; the characters are not all that well sketched out or don’t have layers to their personality or the plot is so flat and unreasonable; for me the movie din’t really work. I watched the movie again after Satyam’s comment on bigb’s blog and reading his review on this site…still couldn’t see any magic to it.

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    • “In some ways, MeA was to DK, what Sholay was to Amitabh…”
      Dahling, MeA had DK in almost every frame whereas in sholay AB was only a character actor at the best among ensemble product!

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      • Dimps guess you’ve decided to join the circus today..

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        • “Dimps guess you’ve decided to join the circus today..”

          Not really. Not even sitting on fence. Sitting (way) outside fence with rest of the audience…catching occasional ball(s) that comes outside the field and throwing it back into the feild….not expert on DK OR even Bigb to chime in here. Wish though more discussion on Amar itself had taken place here…interesting though….the pawwow bet you and Utkalji, you keep threatening to leave the “debate” and never leave….LOLz…whereas Utkalji is not getting emotional.

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        • As if there werent enough clowns already!

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      • Dimps, AAA,MKS were also as huge as mea.Its just that sholay is the huge success.

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  32. Re: but a certain ‘politics’ of supporting Dilip Kumar emerged in Bachchan’s peak age.

    You hit the nail right on the head.I think the rest of the thread is rendered superfluous after this. I totally understand the ‘older’ generation’s loyalty to DK.
    The propping up by some bloggers/commentators and even stars of DK is largely their way of dealing with their unease at AB’s unquestioned and towering supremacy. Why they are uneasy is a matter of separate discussion but their hailing of DK is merely a symptom of this malady. And, there are some uninitiated who get carried away by these proclaimations. And, are obviously not smart enough to know better. Unknowingly, they end up doing a disservice to DK’s cause who otherwise is an extremely significant, even iconic and influential star actor who DID start a new trend in acting in Bollywood.

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  33. Re: On Saudagar I too enjoy it but here Dilip Kumar seems reduced to Raj Kumar’s level!

    As a somewhat of a Raj Kumar fan, I would use the word ‘elevated’ instead of reduced. RK was fun in measured doses.

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    • I enjoyed him too but given Dilip was the great star-actor of his generation it’s interesting to see here that he cannot get the better of Raj Kumar.

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  34. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Just to put on record how much I admire amitabh, here is apiece a wrote in Naachgaana ( Still I rtae Dilip Kumar higher.)

    “The year 1971. I am in the final year of school, right in the center of the Hindi heartland, in Raipur, eating, drinking and dreaming Hindi films. After a spate of super hits, the then heartthrob of Indian film lovers, Rajesh Khanna, has delivered some okey-dokey films. And then came Anand. We were all zapped. Wahta film! What a performance! And who won’t be touched by ‘ Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye’ or ‘ Zindagi kaise Yeh Paheli Hai’ ? The superstar had redeemed himself. But amidst all this, we also talked of the character called ‘ Babu Moshai’ and an actor called Amitabh Bachchan. His performance too was praiseworthy, we all agreed. Looking back, Little did anyone realise that like the slayer of Kamsa being born in the prison cell of the Mathura king, the man who would dethrone the superstar, had got his definitive break in the triumphant comeback film of the superstar himself. Come to think of it, the Angry Young Man was born in Anand itself. ” Bolte kuyn nahin ho? Pichhle ten mahinese bak bak karte mere sar kha gaye ho. Ab chup kyuon ho? ‘ The way Amitabh delivered those lines, the intensity, the total concentration, it was never done before in Indian films. But we quickly forgot him and looked at actors like Navin Nischal ( Sawan Bhadon, Prawana) and Anil Dhawan ( Chetna, Piya Ka ghar) as the big stars of the next generation. ( Dharmendra was already a big star rivalling Rajesh Khanna with hits like Mera Gaon Mera Desh and Seeta Aur Geeta. ) .

    Amitabh made appearances in a number of small films after that. We did take note of his intense villainy in Parwana and his awkward singing and dancing to the cult song ‘ Dekha Na hai Re’ in ‘ Bombay To Goa.’ Then in 1973 came Zanjeer and created havoc. But it is not as if Amitabh became the next big thing. It was not like Rajesh Khanna after Aradhana. People ahd oodles of doubt as to whether Amitabh can be a traditional Hindi film hero. I happened to see Nmak Haram , released the same year, before Zanjeer. I remember the excitement in the theater when Amitabh delivered the line, daring the rowdy workers bent on attacking Rajesh Khanna , ” Hai Koi Maa Ke Laal/” My god, what fury he could pack into that single line. I was in IIT then, in my 2nd year, having a session of mild ragging. I remember talking about films ( what else) with a bunch of juniors and asking one of them, ” Do you think Amiatbh can match the level reached by Rajesh Khanna?” ” Match? I think he will go far ahead of Rajesh Khanna in the years to come.” “Was this kid out of his mind? ” I thought. But now I know the younger generation has always a better intuitive understanding when it comes to the future.

    The next Amiatbh film I remember seeing was Majboor. Salim-Javed were in the peak of their craft then and this was one hell of a script. Remeber Pran singing ” Phir Na Kehna Michael peekay danga karta hai’. But what stays in the mind is Amitabh stung by the pain in the head dropping the fish bowl, smashing it to pieces…Amitabh trying to create false evidence of his death by littering the place with cigarette stubs. Also remember Amitabh singing ” Nahin Mein nahin Dekh Sakta Tujhe Rote Hue”. The song convinced many of us that , Yes, he could perhaps still become some kind of a hero. He hadn’t sang any song in Zanjeer. and even here, he hadn’t really sung a romantic song. THe next milstone in the memory trail is Deewar. Seeing that film was really like a religious experience. Amitabh was like a shaman leading us to trance. I had missed it on its actual release and saw it in a tent theater in Bangalore during my summer training. People were clapping after each dialogue…and what dialogues! Kal ek coolie phir hafta dene se inkaar karega. Peter main yahan hoon. Mein aaj bhi phek hua paisa nahin leta. Mere paas maa hai. But forget these one liners. I remember long passages from the film that Amitabh delivered. The one that he delivers at the Shiva temple: Haan, khush to bahut hoge. woh aurat jo tere dar pe maatha tekata tekaate uske maatha ghis gaye aaj woh zindagi aur maut ke beech ulajh rahi hai.etc. Or the lines he gives to Praveen Babi after the shoot out in the bar: ” Tum mera naam nahin pochoge?”‘ Kya fyada, tumhare jaise ladki apna nam kapdokin tarah badalti hai”. Or his speech to Iftekhar, or is it Madan Puri , ” Bachpanmeim ek kahani suni thi. Ek admi ke paas ek murgi thi jo sone ka andein deti thi.etc.The performance hit you like a sledge hammer. The blue shirt , open, tied at the end over the white bell bottoms are seared in ones film viewing memory like a tattoo. Ever since I saw Dilip Kumar in Aadmi and Raam aur Shyam back to back, no performance has had me in its grip like Deewar.

    The memories of the next set of movies aren’t chronological. Like Abhiman, with Amit singing Meet Na Mila Manka dressed in his chequered coat, and joining Jaya for many duets, including the lilting ‘ Tere Mere Milan Ki Yeh Raina”. Honestly I don’t think much of the film. But the songs stayed in the mind. There was Roti Kapda aur Makan, Benam.Remember Saudagar for his very convincing performance as the toddytapper husband of Nutan besotted by the sensual charms of Padma Khanna. Remember the two wonderful Hrishikesh Mukherjee films Mili and Chupke Chupke, the latter showing the first flashes of his inimitable comic timing which attained its full flowering in the next landmark film of Amitabh’s long and lustrous career: Sholay. ” Basanti Tera Naam Kya Hai? Hindi cinema hadn’t seen a display of deadpan humour like this before. In a way it was very Western but implanted very expertly on Indian soil. It was possible due to Salim-Javed’s rootedness combined with exposure to Western pulp like Jmaes Hadley Chase. Amiatbh’s Jai was a unique type, never seen before in Indian cinema, combining the laconic , brooding action hero with a deadpan verbal humour. Someone who shoots from the hip as well as the lip. Who can forget his scene where he is talking with Veeru’s mausi proposing marriage with Bassanti. ‘ Daru peeta hai jab jua mein haar jaata hai. ab roz roz to aadmi jeet nahin sakta.” These comic interludes soon became mandatory set pieces in his subsequent films. Sholay was already taking Amitabh on his way to becoming a complete hero who can sing, emote, romance, fight and do comedy. ( The dancing ability was yet to be added to the resume.) He continued with his angry mode in Do Anjaney, an okey-dokey film remarkable only for the beginning of his pairing with Rekha.

    The next change of track for Amitabh came with Kabhi Kabhi, where he was romancing Raakhee In Yash Chopra’s trdaemark locations like Kashmir, dressed in Yash Chpra’s trademark costumes like jackets and sweaters, singing ‘ Main Pal Do Pal Ka Shayar Hoon’. I think the film was messy, unwieldy and didn’t amount to much. But it did wonders for Amitabh’s career , as it established his credentials as a romantic hero. It also established his bond with the director Yash Chopra and also established a patern of his being paired with Shashi Kapoor, providing a light counterpart to his dark brooding prsence. This pattern and bonding was to be repeated in films like Trishul and Kaala Patthar , where Amitabh continued to excel in his established style of acting.
    The departure came with Hera Pheri and to some extent Khoon Pasina, both Prakas Mehra films where Amiatbh started showing his comic turns meant for the masses singing songs like ” Apna to Kaam Hai Paraya Maal Hadapna aur Raam Naam Japna’ . I remember enjoying the films then ( specially his romantic turns with Rekha with whom I was totally besotted by now. ), but never cared to revisit them really. But the one that I do revisit time and again is Prakash Mehra’s Muqadar Ka Siqandar. I think this is the best Devdas impersonation after Bimal Roy-Dilip Kumar’s version. The film had all the halmarks of Prakash Mehra’s campy and crass style. But it also had a lots of heart. Amitabh and Rekha showed what chemistry is about with the song’ Salaame Ishq’ . amiatbh brought lumps to our throat with his ” Mem saab’ act and his singing of ‘ O saathi re”. I saw the film a number of times in the theater, both for Amitabh and Rekha. The Rekha Amiatbh pairing sizzled in the next film of another Amitabh loyalist, Rakesh Kumar ( who vanished when there was no Amitabh to bolster him just like Prakash Mehra, Manmohna Desai, Narendra Bedi, and Chandra Barot,) The film was the unremarkable Mr Natwarlal, made remarkable for me by that one son song: ‘Mere paas aao, mee doston’. It showed the limitless talent of this gifted actor. He sang the song himself and acted it out with such sincerity that it reached to the child in you, held you in its grip and wont let go. I remember him clamoring up the branch of a traa, doing all kinds of monkey tricks, then the fantastic expression and timing he puts into the line ‘ Hanuman Chalisa padhta hua, Bolo Pawan putra Hanuman ki jai” and above all the punch line: ” Arre Lallu, yeh jeena bhi koi jeena hai.” Even today, when I see the song on TV I feel like breaking into an applause when it ends.

    The next landmark film is yet another film that shows what makes Amitabh such an immortal star, whose super stardom has lasted longer than anyone else in the history of Indian cinema — his abilty to reinvent his star persona many times over. The film I am talking about is Amar Akabr Anthony. It was time for us to be hit by a sledge hammer once again. If the impact of Amiatbh’s performance in Deewar owed a lot to the writing of Salim-Javed here it was the sheer genius of Manmohan Desai that resulted in this remarkable makeover. We were zapped as we saw Amitabh dance , no perform, My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves, mouth dialogues like ‘ Aadmi zindagi mein doich baar aisa bhagta hai, Olympic ka race ho, yah police ka case ho ( Kadar Khan, take a bow!) and do his Buster Keaton act of putting the band aid on his reflection on the mirror. ( Just digressing a little, those who compare Farah Khan with Manmohan desai have no clue to what they are talking. Farah does not have even the fraction of detailing and wit prsent in each of the songs of AAA: Honi Ko Anhonee Kar De, My Name Is, Parda Hi Parda, Tayab Ali Pyaar Ka Dushman). Any way back to Amitabh. Though he did Parvarish and Suhaag with Desai, the only other film that belongs in the same league is Naseeb and to some extent Coolie. Naseeb with its song Joh Jaani Janardan, Chal Mere Bhai continued to shocase the comic energy and invention of Deasi-Bachchan combo ( Rishi kappor replacing Shashi by now as the lighter alter ego of Bachchan). This is the phase when he created his unique persona that I have branded: Sophisticated Tapori. No one before or since has been able to create a persona that appeals to masses and the classes alike that completely.

    It is impossible for anyone today to imagine how completely Amiatbh dominated this decade. Because here I am going gaga over Bachchan-Desai combo forgetting the Mehra-Bachchan combo that after Muqadar Ka Siknadar came with Namak Halal , Sharabi and Lawaris. Each of them had a blockbuster item number that would put the Munnis and Shielas of today in the shade: Pag Ghungroo Bandh Mera Nachi Thi, which brings the house down today even in TV reruns or in any stage show by any cover singer, De De Pyar De, Mere angana Mein. Sharabi had some fine emotional moments too, though some were over-the-top melodramatic ones. and both Namak Halal and sharabi had some fine comic set pieces ( I can talk English, I can walk English. When Vijay Hazare was playing wit VIjay Merchant….considering the consideration etc. Moochhe ho to Nathuram jaisa ho) .

    And while I am talking about Desai and Mehra I have forgotten about Don, the crackling script that Salim-Javed wrote creating the ultimate benchmark for impersonation dram in Indian cinema. ( It was a hit in every south Indian remake, remarkably in Billa , the Rajnikant version, reprised again by Ajit recently.) Amitabh was pitch perfect as the paan-chewing, Bhojpuri speaking Vijay, singing in his lungi, Yeh hai Bomabi Nagariya Tu Dekh Babua. But what gave us the collective orgasm, was watching him perform ‘ Khaike Paan Benaraswala’. Those who dare compare Shahrukh’s version with the original should have seen the mass hysteria in theatres during the song.

    And again while I am talking of these potboilers I am forgetting the little gems he was making with Hrishikesh Mukherjee: Jurmana and Bemisal ( Aalap was indulgent and boring. failing by trying too hard, just like Salim-Javed”s Imaan Dhram earlier). I especially enjoyed his performance in Bemisal. There were okey-dokey films like Do aur do Paanch, Khuddar, Kaalia, Satta Pe Satta, Khuddar etc of which some I have not seen , some I have seen but dont have strong impressions. But I do remember the powerful Dostana penned by Salim-Javed again and the very funny sequence that Amitabh enacted with Zeenat in the restaurant / club, talking about the imaginary girlfriendb, Meenakshi.

    But three or four films after this Amitabh- can-do-nowrong-and-is- No1- to- No10 phase
    that have stayed in my mind are Shakti, Silsila, Aakhri Raasta and Main Azad Hoon. dilp Kumar had the better role and better lines in Shakti but Amitabh’s performance was as intense and impactful as ever. Cant stop from watching it whenever it’s on TV. This is one film where the two female protagonists Raakhee and Smita Patil complement the male leads perfectly, even with limited screen time. Silsila is the film that really created a successful romantic avatar of Amitabh, much more than Kabhi Kabhi did. The film once again extended Amitabh’s persona into another dimension, aided by his inimitable rendering of Rang Barse ( spare a thought for the superlative support of Sanjeev Kumar during the sequence), his scorching chemistry with Rekha during the tulips tinte song ‘ Yeh Kahan aa Gaye Hum” and his unforgettable rendition of ” Mein aur meri tanhayi aksar baatein karte hain” which must have come to the aid of so many would-be Romeos to woo their Juliets in shayrana andaz across college campuses. Aakhri Raasta was remarkable for his performance as both father and son. I confess one of the few scenes that really brought tears to my eyes in my adult days was the scene where the father Amitabh meets the son at the graveyard and hears him talk flawless English and sii choked with emotion. Main Azad Hon was a little confused about what kind of a film it wanted to be and does not work fully. But the last soliloquy by Amitabh is unmatchable and unforgettable. ( He managed the feat once again in the closing soliloqy in Baghban).

    Moving on, there were films like Shahenshah and Hum which were kind of successful but I didn’t care much about. Khuda Gawah had its moments. Agneepath didnt work for me as a film ( Mithun the nariwalwala was intolerable) , though the performance was fine ( bit of a Deewar dej vu diluted the impact for me) . Remake of South films like Inqilab and Maaahn I didn’t even care to see. And the fact that you cannot squeeze a lemon beyond a point withoiut amking the juice bitter was proven by Desai-Mehra duds like Desh Premee, Mard, Ganaga Yamuna Saraswati, Toofan and Jaadugar.

    My period of passionate engagement and wide-eyed admiration for Amitabh films more or less ended here, until his second coming with films like Baghban, Khakee, Cheeni Kum and Paa. ( But I cant talk of them in the same breath as this phase of true youthful romance and first love. So I will save that for another summation.)

    Just one closing thought. When I look back on my Hindi film viewing days of the 70s and 80s all I can see is Amitabh Bachchan, maybe counterpoised with small films of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee, shyam Benegal and Goving Nihalani. But no other stars even comes close to intruding upon this passionate engagement..not Dharmedra, not Vinod Khanna ( who are these people? ), not Anil, Sunny , Sanjay ( Bachchas , aren’t they? In fact until the advent of the three Khans in their peak, star excitement for me did not come from any male star, but female stats like Sridevi and Madhuri.

    As to Amitabh, the magic of his full-blown star charisma was resurrected for me, not in any big screen portrayal, but as the anchor of the first season of Kaun Banega Crorepati. Once again no Indian star, to paraphrase, MC Hammer, can touch that.”

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    • That’s fine Utkal but it hardly means you’re right on those other points.. you might love Bachchan but love Dilip more.. or you might have some other sort of investment in his ‘supremacy’. Whatever the case might be it is one that is generally speaking not ‘attached’ to the facts. I hate to put it quite so bluntly as this but there’s no other way. and this isn’t about Dilip v Bachchan for me. I will also repeat that no Bombay star has known what Rajesh Khanna did for a roughly 4 year period or so. Yes there’s something to be said for longevity but Rajesh khanna touched such extraordinary heights within that period and so concentrated was that success that few know it even cumulatively over a long period of time. All these things have to be accounted for. If Rajesh Khanna did not have longevity no one other than Bachchan has his kind of success even for a short period of time. The other day I defended Dilip Kumar too. And even as someone who completely dislikes SRK’s politics I have defended him on the debates that really count.

      Whether it’s Dilip or Bachchan or SRK or Rajesh Khanna or whoever I have my preferences like anyone else but what I am really defending is the historical record. And incidentally the strongest arguments I have made against Bachchan have been on his very blog. And these include arguing against his ‘one man industry’ phase (a term never used for anyone else much as the 1-10 was also not used for anyone). Not on box office grounds (because I’m not a nut) but on other ‘aesthetic’ ones and so forth. So I am hardly swayed by the box office when it comes to deciding what films I like. But again there is something called the factual which cannot depend on our investment in a star. The Bachchan flop is a legendary term because it means quite the opposite. That his flops always made money and were poor only by his titanic standards. Screen once published a list around the early 90s where they estimated that only about 6-7 movies of Bachchan has actually lost money between 1973 and that date. some of those included films like Jaadugar and Main Azaad Hoon. I believe the list upto 1986 (when he left for a two year political stint) was something like three films. In many ways this is a record even more stunning than the hits. There have been moments in Bombay in the late 70s when 6-7 Bachchan movies would be in different jubilee stages in different theaters of Bombay at the very same time. His record in his peak hears isn’t human, it’s godly! One has to know these things. This is what superstardom is about in the most authentic sense. This is in any case the historical record. Not open to ‘debate’. As I said earlier Aamir has a nearly 100% ratio for a decade now and actually a very high success ratio at least since ’94. Doesn’t mean he’s Bachchan! But note what happens when one doesn’t want to accept facts. The ‘make it up’ version of events game can be played by anyone. Hence you had someone saying Aamir had already surpassed Dilip Kumar as a star. Whether it was that claim or many of yours today it’s not that you guys are doing it on purpose. This is either a simple ignorance of the facts and/or the result of the kind of investment in a star that really clouds one’s reason.

      But again I am always willing to defend the historical record as best I understand it and I have actually sinned too much in this sense, i.e. spent just too much time examining every facet of the box office, looking at star careers and so on. But if one doesn’t go with facts there are very many others with their own versions. I have tussled with SRK fans in the past who felt he was the greatest star ever. So on and so forth.

      I am not trying to extend the debate here so don’t consider all of this an invitation to do so. But you are frighteningly wrong on the facts here.

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    • @utkalji: My GAWD what a wonderful, fantabulous chronological essay on bigb careerograph with hit dialogues! hats off to you! I have very low levels of focus and concentration (these days) but absolutely LOVED reading and re-reading all the lines that you have succintly captured the essence of bigb and his contributions/talents/achievements. On a side note, I would love to know what you think of Trishul (you didn’t mention it above). I would really like a piece on Manmohan Desai and Farah Khan (your two lines on it were PERFECT).
      BRAVO. Brilliant piece here. One of the VERY best if not THE best pieces on Satyamshot. THX

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    • alex adams Says:

      utkal–just read your v good piece of amitabh.
      It seems your tryst with cinema and even bachchan began much much b4 most here (me included)—so one has to take notice for that fact alone….
      Hope u also shed some lights on some points raised above by me and others (see above) and also the allegations of “manipulation” of script/screenplay/dialogue in “shakti”.
      As i have pointed out, Bachchan has been quite “non interfering” in this respect throughout his career(sometimes to my disliking)…
      As in this case, Bachchan may have had instances where he must have been “unhappy” with certain elements of his role with for eg SRK in the yash/kjo films..
      Either he is too gentlemanly, or in this case was too respectful to DK, or is non bothered or is not in postion to influence (unlikely). On the other hand, yusuf khan was never hesitant in “putting his foot down” and the same tradition seems to have been carried forward by the other khans (namely SRK and Aamir)…
      Somehow I feel that Aamir has followed the DK model of acting more than Amitabhs —whilst SRKs penchant for the biggest banners like yash/kjo and his “model” (not now but earlier) was more influenced by bachchan …..

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      • “As i have pointed out, Bachchan has been quite “non interfering” in this respect throughout his career….” Shatrughan Sinha had claimed (many-many moons ago) of bachchan sabotaging his career….there might be some manipulations on various levels that we don’t know about….

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  35. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Satyam, if you are talking of Hiters story, let us analyse the records. One ATBB and 5 Blockbusters from 57 films vs 1 ATBB and 3 Blockbusters from 170 films. 8 Filmfrae awards as Best Actor from 57 films and a Dada Saheb Phlake Award mitabh will also eventually get) vs. Amitabh’s5 Filmfare awards and National Award from 170 films. You may not set much store by these sources ( neither do I), but if you are talking history these are the sources we have.

    So it’s pretty close as I said.

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    • The problem is you keep quoting these dubious sources as factual authorities! Not sure what awards have to do with the box office. Of course the media was always a bit biased against Bachchan in this regard. Not to mention that because of the banning he wasn’t in the running for many years. Either you are not aware of this basic fact or it is bad faith on your part to not account for this. And no BOI is not my source for the historical record. If you went to IBOS you’d see a completely different result.

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    • 1 ATBB and 3 Blockbusters ??? Are you joking ???

      http://www.naachgaana.com/2010/09/14/till-1984-total-13-all-time-earners-9-was-starring-amitabh/

      Even upto 1984 He had 9 All time earners among 13 total.

      And check this list of Bachchan movies boxoffice performance .. and compare with any DK …

      http://boxofficekings.com/?p=545

      Even with such strict ratings of Komal .. Amitabh had such blockbusters and super hits .. Get life man ..

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  36. check this out:

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  37. and here’s Nahata from about a decade ago:

    The Amitabh Bachchan phenomenon
    By Komal Nahta

    “Amitabh is Amitabh”. “There’s no one like Amitabh”. “Nobody can match Amitabh Bachchan’s popularity”. These and similar statements are commonly heard. And not just in the film trade but also among the general public.

    What is it that makes Amitabh so different from the others of his ilk? Why in the last 30 years have we never had any actor who has had the same fan following and who could clearly step into his shoes? What is it that really made Bachchan stand above all the other stars who’ve come after the superstar first made an appearance on the screen in 1969 in Saat Hindustani?

    Quite simply, Bachchan’s string of box-office hits! One after the other, the actor’s films hit the jackpot with such alarming regularity that in the seventies and eighties, Amitabh Bachchan became the safest bet for producers, distributors and exhibitors alike. I use the world alike to differentiate the scene that existed when Bachchan was the numero uno and the one that exists today.

    For instance, a Salman Khan today may guarantee mega-bucks for the producers of his films but there’s no like guarantee that distributors and exhibitors of his starrers will also make money. As in the case of most of his releases before his latest, Tere Naam. While producers of Salman-starrers made table profits, distributors of his films burnt their fingers rather badly when those films flopped. It was after almost two-three years that everybody associated with a Salman-starrer made money in Tere Naam.

    Ditto in the case of films of other topline stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan or others like Ajay Devgan, Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol or, for that matter, anybody else. Why, even current heartthrob Hrithik Roshan’s films such as Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage and Na Tum Jaano Na Hum entailed heavy losses to its distributors. That used to not be the case with Bachchan flicks.

    Secondly, merely the superstar’s name was enough to draw in the crowds into cinemas in his heyday. Today, no hero can boast of such charisma as to lure the audiences to theatres on the sheer strength of their names. Shah Rukh Khan’s home production, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, could not even manage decent houses on the opening day, leave alone full houses. Anil Kapoor has never really drawn initial crowds; his starrers usually pick up by word of mouth publicity if they are good. Even action heroes like Ajay Devgan and Akshay Kumar had had to remain content with dismal opening of their flicks on more occasions then one.

    But the Bachchan magic was one of a kind. Whether it was Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer in 1973 or Manoj Kumar’s multi-star cast Roti Kapada Aur Makaan in 1974, Yash Chopra’s evergreen Deewaar or Ramesh Sippy’s all-time blockbuster Sholay in 1975, Bachchan’s first film with Rekha – Do Anjaane – in 1976 or Manmohan Desai’s biggest entertainer, Amar Akbar Anthony in 1977, the two common features in all these hits were Amitabh Bachchan’s towering presence in them and a bumper box-office initial draw. Don, Trishul and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar made 1978 a memorable year for the Big B. The following year may not have been as good but Bachchan, nevertheless, did deliver Mr. Natwarlal and Suhaag in the last year of the seventies.

    The next decade was equally exciting for the superstar who did not seem to age at all. Today, when heroes find it difficult to hold their own for even ten years, Amitabh Bachchan ruled the box-office for over two decades as the undisputed Maharaja of movies with no close second! Ram Balram, Laawaris, Naseeb, Khuddar, Andhaa Kaanoon, Coolie, Sharaabi and Mard were some of the actor’s great hits of the first half of the eighties.

    Of course, when Amitabh Bachchan reigned supreme, films did not have to face the opposition of video and cable piracy as today. Cinema-going was the only and cheapest form of entertainment for the masses who identified with the angry young man image of Bachchan. But where films of the great actor did not have to fight the piracy battle or even the opposition of countless satellite channels, the media hype too was far less during his days. He did not have every television channel covering him or his films because there were simply no satellite channels. He even went off press for a few years but for that, he had only himself to blame.

    Yet another factor that went in Bachchan’s favour in making him the darling of all sections of society was his unbelievable versatility. It is not for nothing that the Big B became a superstar. Although he was adored in angry young man roles, he never let down his fans in non-action films too. Comedy, like action, was his forte and if he could represent the frustrations of the helpless youth of those times, he could as well play the comedian with equal élan. Chupke Chupke and AAA come to mind instantly when one thinks of Bachchan’s flair for comedy. With equal ease, Amitabh also played the intense lover as in Kabhie Kabhie and Silsila.

    The range which Bachchan portrayed in his performances remains unmatched even today. Like the superstar’s fees those days. The actor used to command a remuneration which was more than double that commanded by the actor who was second in popularity. It was Amitabh who started the trend of an actor taking the distribution rights of a major territory like Bombay in lieu of his remuneration. And while distribution rights were, in those days, generally sold for ten years, the superstar bought perpetual rights.

    Today, films do businesses of Rs 15 and 20 crores per major territory. But in the seventies and eighties, when Rs 1 crore was the magical figure, several of Bachchan starrers touched and even crossed the Rs 1-crore mark.

    Amitabh is also the last star to have had a universal appeal that cut across geographical boundaries. Whether it was the man on the street in Ludhiana in the North or Latur down South, whether it was a company executive in Porbandar in Western India or a college student studying in Patna in East India, the fondness for Bachchan was the same.

    Today, a Sunny Deol runs more in Northern Indian because of his action image, a Govinda is a hot favourite of U.P. and Bihar whereas a Shah Rukh Khan flick generally records dull collections in Bihar. That is to say, Amitabh’s charm affected the audiences in the North, South, East and West with equal intensity. Not just in India, but across the seven seas too, Amitabh reigned supreme for over two decades. His super-hit stage shows bore testimony to his immense popularity the world over.

    Again today when jubilees are more manipulated than actual, Amitabh’s films celebrated genuine silver, golden and platinum jubilees. r Akbar Anthony in 1977 celebrated silver jubilee in as many as 9 cinemas of Bombay, a record unparalleled even today! In the year 1978, six of Amitabh’s films celebrated jubilees, yet another record which remains unequalled to-date!

    Even after Bachchan’s downswing began, the actor managed to make successes out of ordinary films like Shahanshah in 1988, Aaj Ka Arjun in 1990 and Hum in 1991.

    A three-year sabbatical in the nineties was followed by a disastrous comeback with Mrityudaata, a film which Amitabh’s critics condemned as the death-knell of the actor. But Bade Miyan Chote Miyan and Major Saab thereafter gave him a breather. BMCM in 1998 might have crossed the average line because of Govinda’s antics but Amitabh Bachchan’s towering presence in the David Dhawan flick cannot be overlooked.

    With KBC on Star Plus, the ageing actor’s fan following increased even more. Once again, critics derided Amitabh’s foray into television and predicted that this surely would be the end of his career on the big screen. But once again, Bachchan proved his detractors wrong! Rather than adversely affecting his film career, KBC actually gave it a big boost.

    Did you know?

    # No star has as many hits and super-hits to his credit as Amitabh Bachchan. Of the over 100 films in which he had full-length roles, more than 35 films have been either hits or super-hits! His list of hits: Bombay To Goa, Abhimaan, Namak Haraam, Zanjeer, Kasauti, Majboor, Roti Kapada Aur Makaan, Chupke Chupke, Deewaar, Sholay, Do Anjaane, Hera Pheri, Kabhi Kabhie, Adalat, Amar Akbar Anthony, Parvarish, Khoon Pasina, Don, Ganga Ki Saugand, Trishul, Kasme Vaade, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Mr. Natwarlal, Suhaag, Dostana, Ram Balram, Barsaat Ki Ek Raat (Bengali version: Anusandhan), Laawaris, Naseeb, Yaarana, Kaalia, Khud-dar, Andhaa Kanoon, Coolie, Sharaabi, Geraftaar, Mard, Aaj Ka Arjun, Mohabbatein and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…Besides these, there were several other films which were successful but not hits.

    # He is the only actor who gave at least one hit every year for 14 consecutive years – from 1972 (Bombay To Goa) to 1985 (Mard).

    # Amitabh has played double and triple roles in a number of films. His double role starrers include Don, Kasme Vaade, The Great Gambler, Desh Premee, Satte Pe Satta, Aakhree Raasta, Toofan, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan and Sooryavansham. Adalat and Mahaan had the superstar in triple roles.

    # Amitabh has acted in 9 films directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, viz. Anand, Abhimaan, Namak Haraam, Chupke Chupke, Mili, Alaap, Jurmana, Gol Maal (only a guest appearance) and Be-Misal. With Manmohan Desai, he did 8 films – Amar Akbar Anthony, Parvarish, Suhaag, Naseeb, Desh Premee, Coolie, Mard, Gangaa Jamunaa Saraswathi – besides one with Manmohan Desai as producer and son Ketan Desai as director (Toofan). Prakash Mehra directed the superstar in a total of 7 films – Zanjeer, Hera Pheri, Khoon Pasina, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Laawaris, Sharaabi, Jaadugar. With Yash Chora, the superstar did 5 films – Deewaar, Kabhie Kabhie, Trishul, Kaala Patthar and Silsila – besides one, with his son, Aditya Chopra – Mohabbatein. Ramesh Sippy directed Bachchan in the latter’s (as well as the former’s) biggest hit, Sholay, besides Shaan, Shakti and Akayla. His son, Rohan Sippy, made his directorial debut with Bachchan’s son, Abhishek (Kuch Naa Kaho).

    Like

  38. Alex adams Says:

    Sunil– interesting link there on yusuf khans “manipulations”.
    Maybe utkal can shed some light on this.
    Had already heard of DK modifying the script, dialogues and editing in shakti to get a better deal.
    Anyhow, good to see that “utkalji” has found a transcendent sort of admirer and follower over the eras in the form of Dimps …… Rnbdj!!!! Hahaha
    Look utkal– that are the perks of coming here…..so cum more often….Lol

    Like

    • “Anyhow, good to see that “utkalji” has found a transcendent sort of admirer and follower over the eras in the form of Dimps …… Rnbdj!!!!”
      What does that acronym mean?!?

      Like

  39. shaurya Says:

    Chek in Box Office India … in best actors through the years section…

    {1968-1970}

    Dharmendra-8 lakhs
    Rajendra kumar( was losing grip by now)- 6 lakhs

    {1970-1973}

    Rajesh khanna- 12 lakhs
    Dharmendra- 8 lakhs
    Manoj kumar- 7 lakhs
    Devanand- 6 lakhs

    {1974} ( before Amitabh bachchan )

    Dharmendra- 10 lakhs
    Rajesh khanna- 10 lakhs
    Manoj kumar- 8 lakhs

    {1975-1978}

    Amitabh bachchan- 25 lakhs
    Dharmendra- 25 lakhs
    Rajesh khanna- 15 lakhs
    Vinod khanna- 12 lakhs

    {1979-1981}

    Amitabh- 35 lakhs
    Dharmendra- 30 lakhs
    Vinod khanna- 25 lakhs
    Jitendra- 15 lakhs

    {1982-1985}

    Amitabh bachchan- 50 lakhs

    Dharmendra- 30 lakhs
    Jitendra- 25 lakhs
    Mithun- 15 lakhs

    {1986-1989}

    Amitabh bachchan- 60 lakhs

    Mithun- 25 lakhs
    Jitendra- 20 lakhs
    Dharmendra- 20 lakhs

    {1990- 1991}

    Amitabh bachchan- 60 lakhs

    Sanjay dutt- 40 Lakhs
    Anil kapoor- 30 lakhs
    Sunny deol- 30 laks

    ( FALL of Amitabh bachchan and Rise of Sanjay dutt…. and then after 2 yrs Sanjay goes to jail…continues to rule with Khalnayak… but with the time falls…never to return on number .1 position)

    ONE can clearly see the HUGE gap in the fee charged by Amitabh bachchan after his meteoric rise..and others who were number .2…
    Actually people at no.11….

    He was { 1 TO 10 }….

    Like

  40. alex adams Says:

    Utkal–It seems your tryst with cinema and even bachchan began much much b4 most here (me included) WERE BORN….
    in continuation to my post above,,,
    this reminds me of some of my fvorite bachchan moments—
    SNAPSHOTS of the bachchan i Love below….

    this encapsulates the pinnacle of his association with MMDesai…n joy

    Another one where i really like Bachchan…

    and then another one where Bachchan sings brilliantly to vishal bhardwajs tune…

    Like

  41. alex adams Says:

    To add to those above, another Amitabh persona that i really loved….
    Amitabh as the disgruntled bitter lonely cop in “Akayla”–(perhaps nobody else will share my liking for this one!!)
    Specially loved the “opening credits” with Amitabh just doing nothing in particular- (see the first few minutes)—
    http://www.aajtube.com/2011/03/akayla-1991.html

    Like

  42. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Thanks, Dimps. A piece on Manmohan Desai someday for sure. In the meanwhile here is a piece on Rajesh Khanna which I wrote before the Amitabh piece:

    There has been superstars before Rajesh Khnna: Dilp Kumar, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor. There has been superstars after Rajesh Khanna: Amitabh Bachcan, Sahrukh Khan, Salman Khan. But if you haven’t been a teenager between 1969-1972, you will never know what is star hysteria really like. Well, India never had an Elvis, or the Beatles. But There was Rajesh Khanna.

    I had just started seeing Hindi films and had been impressed by Manoj Kumar in Upkar, Dilip Kumar in Ram aur Shyam and Aadmi, Dharmendra in Shikar and Jeetendra in Farz. Then in 1969 came Aradhana. The songs were already a craze. But seeing Rajesh Khanaa singing Mere Sapno KI Raani in the open jeep or him looking deep into Sharmila’s eyes as he sang Roop Tera Mastana was something else. Then there was the younger Rajesh with a mouche in his pilot avtar making a dramatic entry…and singing Baagon mein Bahar Hai soon after with cuddly Farida Jalal. The nation did not know what hit it. I can’t remember how many times we switched off the light of the common room of our boys’ hostel as we played the Aradhana EP for the nth time and let the magic of Roop Tera Mastana take over.

    Do Raaste came soon after, with the oh-so–namkeen Mumtaz singing Bindiya Chamkegi. But Rajesh stole our hearts once again. The mystery of him singing Yeh Reshmi Zulfe with a full beard on was cleared later when we saw Ittefaq, a songless thriller from the BR Chopra house. And wonder of wonder, it was a hit. Still remember Rajesh in his black long-sleeved T-shirt giving the deep soulful look to Nanda and asking, “ Coffee nahin pilaogee?” ( He was so much in demand that he had to go straight from the sets of Iittefaq to shoot the Do Raaste song in his full beard.)

    All hell broke loose after Haathi Mere Saathi. An absurd film with an elephant, directed by an unknown Devar, became a superhit. I still remember the issue of Filmfare just after this period, where we read about some girl writing a letter to Khanna with her blood . We could believe it, because if we guys were so crazy after this crinkly eyed , gurkha looking paunchy alien, what effect he must not be having on the poor girls! But I can tell you what havoc he was creating among us boys. Now in this residential school of ours, we were allowed to wear non-uniform, private clothes only on Saturday evening or Sunday morning. And you should have seen the riot of colours our hostel corridor was on a Sunday morning! Everyone in their “ guru kurtas’ in colours that would put a Lakme Fashion Week designer to shame: Cobalt Blue, Canary Yellow, Bright Purple…and worse. Yes, we all had gone through the skin-tight drainpipes of Jeetendra, the Jewel Thief cap of Dev Anand and his Guide puff..but nothing at this scale was ever unleashed before.
    And the guy must have been the celestial step child of a Gandhrava to get all those divine songs in film after film, causing the rise of Kishore Kumar and eclipse of the evergreen Rafi. Just take the songs of Aradhana, every single song of which made it to the Binaca Geet Mala’s Top 16, including Dada Burman singing “ Safal Hogi Teri Aradhana’. Or Kati Patang : “ Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai’, “ Pyar Deewana Hota hai’, “ Yeh Shaam Mastani” , “ Na Koi Umang Hai” , “ Khelenge A az HumHoli”. Remember him singing “ Wada tera wada, wade pet era maaar gaya banda mein sedha saadha’ in Dushman. And the crowd going berserk.

    Must narrate one incident from this era. This was in Raipur, then in Madhay Pradesh, where a typical big budget film would released in 5 shows ( 9-12, 12-3, 3-6, 6-9 and 9-12) . With Khanna’s Aan Milo Sajna, they added one extra show: 6-9! The first show starting at 6 ‘O clock in the morning, can you imagine! And this was not all. And what I’m going to narrate actually happened in the show I was in. There was an abrupt disruption of screening after the song “ Jawaniyon Dewaniyon Zindabad”. What the heck and why the hell! Soon it was clear. Some fans wanted the reel to be rewound and the song screened again! Of course this was the film that had “ Achchha To Hum Chalte Hain.”
    I am not going into Box office statistics as Khanna was a far more interesting phenomenon that just a successful star (unlike say Rajendra Kumar or Jeetendra). Rajesh Khanna was not just the favourite of commercial czars of the day like Shakti Samanta, Raj Khoshla, J Om Prakash and Manmohan Desai, but also small arty filmmakers like Asit Sen and Hrishikesh Mukherje. His fans had no qualms I embracing him wholeheartedly in films like Khamoshi or Safar and Anad or Bawarchi. Ah Anand! What a film! And what a performance! He was really the darling of the nation as he sang , in his simple kurta –pyjama, Zindagi Kaisi Yeh Paheli Hai or Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye. And who can forget Amar Prem another unbelievably rich treasure house of musical gems ( Yeh Kya Hua, Chingaari, Kuchchh to Log Kahenge, Naina Bit Jaaye, Bada Natkhat Hai)! And if you notice with what elegance he carried off the starched kurta and crinkled dhoti of bhdralok Bengalis you will never forgive Shahrukh for the bhaand that he made Devdas look like. And he made these serious tearjerkers mega hits.

    His double dhamaal pairing with Sharmila Tagore on one hand and Mumtaz on the other in this period has never been matched.

    But perhaps the word ‘ meteoric rise’ was coined for a star like Rajesh Khanna…. For like a meteor he too burnt out pretty fast. Post Anand he really had nothing more to prove. He could have just retired or had a road accident like Jamse Dean and become immortal. Instead he went o to give hits like Apna Desh, Daag ( the film with which Yash Chopra started his independent banner) , Namka Haraam, Prem Nagar, Aap Ki Ksam, Prem Kahani, Roti , but the magic had gone and a spate of flops followed. The tell-tale signs were there in Namak Haraam where the Angry Youngman flame of Amitabh Bachchan was rearing to leap out and devour what was still not known as Bollywood.

    Truth to tell, it would have been impossible for anyone to live up to the gargantuan expectation raised by the scale of his early success unless he reinvented himself. And Rajesh Khanna wasn’t upto it. He hadn’t had much success outside the romantic / tragic / dramatic / family films. He was pathetic in comedies like Joru ka Ghulam or action thrillers like The Train. And didn’t succeed in costume dramas / period films like Mehboob Ki Mehndi or Rajpur or Mehbooba. Soon he became a caricature of himself as the Amitabh aura took over .

    And that’s’ of course another story…no less exciting.

    Another time perhaps.

    Like

  43. sharmila Says:

    This is the best tribute to my all time favourite star.
    By the way, Joru ka ghulam was a very likeable film with lots of comedy with the ever dependable Omprakash chipping in.

    Like

  44. sharmila Says:

    When one reaches the dizzy heights, one has to fall. Some fall with a thud. Some fall slowly.

    Like

  45. “With Khanna’s Aan Milo Sajna, they added one extra show: 6-9! The first show starting at 6 ‘O clock in the morning,”
    LOVED reading this piece as well. There are lots of good-well written essays and then there is one from you with all this personal ancedotes (hostel one on clothes was hilarious BTW) that I absolutely loved to read even though RK phenomenon happened in my mother’s time. I have seen some of his movies and can’t stand big butt and the thing he does with his eyes. Dilip Kumar was during my grandmaa’s time and during that era watching movies was not considered “good” or people from good families didn’t indulge in such things (whatSatyam refers as bourgeois etc).

    Like

  46. There was another hit movie of RK, with Tina Munim…forget the name…RK’s comeback of sorts….

    Like

  47. Alex adams Says:

    Latha–were u operating here with some other name earlier?? Lol
    Rnbdj@Dimps and utkal– rah ne bana di jodi ( covering different eras and decades)lol– gud that we have succeeded in uniting them hahahaha

    Like

  48. Alex adams Says:

    Hahaha
    I’m not into “gaalis”
    So u r not denying the “across the decades” bit with “utkalji” lol– it’s good wince the “age factor” also seems matched Hahahaha
    As for Vatikala — don’t feel guilty— suspect she is operating with another name ( if it is not u)

    Like

  49. ““utkalji” lol– it’s good wince the “age factor” also seems matched Hahahaha” Gutter may say mind nakal do AA…kuch toh guruji say seekho (satyam).
    “As for Vatikala — don’t feel guilty— suspect she is operating with another name ( if it is not u)”
    Her language and vocab was much higher/sophisticated than mine! Writing is like signature or even finger prints. Unique to each individual.. You can detect whos who!!!!

    Like

  50. alex adams Says:

    Dimps –u said u can do “much much better than Sonam on that cover..”
    We r still waiting to see a glimpse!!! lol

    Like

  51. Satyam should do some pschoanalysis on ya…some people are led by their P…S instead of their mind…LOL…satyam will agree with me here 🙂
    On my pictures: They are already published and you may have seen them too!!!

    Like

  52. alex adams Says:

    “On my pictures: They are already published and you may have seen them too!!!”—dimps–where are they — havent seen them!!
    “some people are led by their P…S instead of their mind”–teacher teacher–what does “P….S” mean–plz teach me…..

    Like

  53. “what does “P….S” mean…”
    Look down right now, you will see “it” unless its too teeny-weeny…LMAO

    Like

  54. alex adams Says:

    Dimps—dont see anything “teeny weeny” unless u meant my toe lol.
    btw where are your “pictures” lol

    Like

  55. alex adams Says:

    dimps–Can go on and on but dont want to put u into further discomfiture on these “sticky” and “size related” issues lol
    To add–Give u full marks and U have proved that u can “rise” above the usual “hang ups” –pun intended lol
    well done.
    ps—where r the pics

    Like

    • U can’t afford ’em!!!!!

      Like

      • alex adams Says:

        Quite pertinent comments there “the graduate”—btw have u “graduated” in movie making….

        “U can’t afford ‘em!!!!!”—lol dont worry. U cant imagine what all i can afford!! hahaha

        Like

  56. The Graduate Says:

    The main point of debate here is the introverted acting style that Satyam brings out with respect to Dilip Saab and the way he just used the co-actors as a means to extrapolate his own sense of acting on the screen. I do not see him discrediting Dilip Saab but i have a few points here.

    Acting is a matter of personal jurisdiction. People call De Niro in Taxi Driver as flawless.Wasn’t that expressive style of acting mainly confined to interactions with oneself.The emotions did enter our hearts though.The ‘You Looking At Me’ scene is merely a deep search of the inner mind by a man deluded by past or by the refusal in love or the socio-political structure in the city.The Night[read:Demon] has taken over him. But isn’t that in itself a great acting as called by all,that one can express within a define arena and still convey emotions.

    Acting should not be understood.It should be felt.I have as much felt Amitabh’s pain in Deewar[ the reading of the mental state of Vijay with respect to his childhood memories should be done here] as i have felt Dilip Saab’s pain in Devdas. The angst within can have a vent.Some burst as Amitabh usually did taking his own time and Some burn within and they become confined to a space where interactions are between the audience and the actor using the boundaries of the space as a barrier.And this barrier creation is accomplished by the actor.Thus the barrier that a viewer may feel is an accomplishment in all senses as it does help to elucidate the view that the protagonist is certainly becoming reclusive. There is a difference between reclining and lying down.And in terms of acting,being just expressive to the ‘mirror image’ and being expressive to just a ‘defined’ ambiance has a thin line too. This thin line must be understood.The ‘De Niro’ example sees a burst of anger in the end but the interactions of a man with his mind is present.One may argue that De Niro was deluded or hallucinating.But what is better weed than pain.It numbs you.The numbness forces one to get into a cocoon.The expressionist within the actor does not take a backseat,it just expresses itself by making it very clear that the ‘pain’ [which acts as a script tool] is forcing him to be introvertly expressive.Highly Paradoxical but it is true in some cases!!

    Amitabh defines that watershed from where such angst could not make the protagonist reclusive or force him into a shell,instead it would solidify him to a ‘goon-bashing’ machine.One must understand the defining changes that Amitabh brought to BW cinema as a whole.His films are infact a reflection of many changes that were brought.The protagonist would fight for hsi emotions and rely less on self-introspection. One may argue about the ‘spiritual loss’ incurred in all this style but one cannot shy away from the fact that it did create that diagonal to what Dev,DK and RK used to do.The face that would go blank in pain in the old days with all of the pain collecting in the eyes now also saw flaring of nostrils and clenching of the massetter.The style changed.There was Before Bachhan…and then there was After Bachhan. But DK in the old trio,still remains the most emphatic acting persona keeping it in mind that he could express more with the pauses of his voice,the tone of his speech and the pitch than any one has ever done.I see Pankaj Kapoor doing the same with his dialogue delivery.One can also see that DK and AB knew their language well.That helped them.DK’s great command over Urdu allowed him to modulate his speech to such a finesse that it would do half of the job of acting.Later AB also used his baritone voice to much effect. DK used to be very much interacting with the surroundings in comical roles.Thus one cannot dismiss his introvert nature in sad or self-introspection roles as his inability to portray it in a different manner,he just chose to do it that way!!

    I might not enter the argument who was better because its futile but i would certainly like to say that Dilip Saab was a reclusive expressionist who still could express more than the jumping and howling Shammy Kapoor[there is no comparison in acting here] and AB remains an actor whose silent angst development in Zanjeer and the changes of the tone of colour[read:emotions] on the face remains the most emphatic portrayal by any actor.

    Like

    • This is a fantastic comment Anupam. My criticism of Dilip Kumar’s mode is essentially that his interior style can often verge on the solipsistic. This very mode works for Taxi Driver because it matches the character though note that De Niro is fundamentally different in his mode compared to Dilip Kumar. So the Taxi Driver performance involves great projection. With Dilip Kumar on the other hand the journey is an interior one. This itself is not the problematic feature or in other words there is nothing wrong with this in principle. However he is to my mind not fine enough or modulated enough in this mode for the performance to be more than the orientation of a ‘mood’. You have already elucidated these distinctions but my objection to Dilip Kumar isn’t a political one. It’s not that his mode blocks a certain sort of action and so forth that is the point I’m making. Rather I am saying that the interior journey is obfuscated quite often in his choices as an actor. Put differently one might or might not care for this mode anyway. But I find the very ways in which he indulges in this mode questionable. To frame it a bit harshly Hamlet is not just about being a depressed guy. But in many portrayals of Hamlet this is what happens which is to say his psychological dynamism is blocked off to the audience. So Dilip retreats into a shell but I never see this as ‘process’ and simply as an achieved result. This too is what Bachchan or De Niro are not guilty of.

      Incidentally on the entire foregoing ‘debate’ I did not argue over acting styles as much precisely for some of the reasons you’ve pointed. The whole thing degenerated into something loony when the box office became part of the discussion.

      Like

      • But of course there is a political dimension here to the performance as well which is quite separate from the overall political contexts of the films. The Robert DeNiro Taxi Driver example is useful once more as is the Bachchan contrast.

        Dilip Kumar’s angst is always about blocked or frustrated desire and in this sense it is the perfect bourgeois vehicle for non-revolutionary politics. I dislike the Devdas story anyway because I find it to be about little more than bourgeois self-pity but Dilip Kumar in terms of his mode is perfect for the film. Put differently the Dilip Kumar persona is neither about disturbing the existing societal balance nor about subverting it by way of representing the completely marginal. Raj Kapoor’s Chaplinesque persona is always ‘other’ to the existing order. At least on his most iconic days and to the extent that he carries over this charge even into Sangam where he is always someone the others condescend to. Barring his friend who is the perfect representative of his class (note how Raj Kapoor actually wanted Dilip Kumar to play this part and he would have been much better than Rajendra though I think the latter is more sympathetic than Dilip probably would have been here). Similarly Dev Anand often played on the borderlines of criminality and a different sort of exclusion. Dilip alone represented the status quo. Here’s a character who in his principle dramas (tragic or otherwise) definitely encapsulates a certain unease with the way things are but who can never translate this into meaningful action. His mode involves suffocation and enervation.

        On the other hand you have Bachchan who is forever threatening the existing bourgeois ‘paradise’. He is always a destructive intruder in that world. Trishul is of course the classic example here but there are many others. Similarly the Bachchan mode is constantly about engaging with the faultlines of the social fold. Inasmuch as his problems are of course also an outgrowth of his socio-political framework or the fact that he inherits his crisis he quite naturally throws it back to ‘society’. Dilip Kumar’s instincts on the other hand are much more about self-decay rather than exposing the social fold as such. Hence there are films where certain social ills are highlighted but no more than this happens. The visionary aspects of a Raj Kapoor are always missing.

        I’m not of course suggesting this is all Dilip’s ‘fault’. he is the perfect persona for those films. But the films and equally his mode tend toward the politically conservative or toward the preservation of what is (barring the all important Gunga Jumna example… though interestingly the terrain for this is also the rural!).

        Everything I’ve said about Bachchan could mutatis mutandis also be said about DeNiro and Taxi Driver.

        So to love the world of Dilip Kumar’s cinema (at least his chief films) is to not have problems with the political dimension of these films. These are bourgeois films through and through. The very class by the way that in turn had problems with bachchan’s cinema. such was the force of the Bachchan event that everything was subsumed under it but nonetheless this class never quite made its peace with him. In turn the inheritors of these conservative reactionaries were those who loved Shahrukh Khan’s cinema.

        Like

        • alex adams Says:

          good link about bimal roy–http://www.rediff.com/entertai/2002/dec/09dinesh.htm

          Like

        • Satyam: Y R U so much anti-bourgeois? Yeh bourgeois nay aapka kya bigadah hai, K aap pichey pad gaye?

          Like

        • The Graduate Says:

          Dilip Kumar can be seen in perspective of the then prevalent socio-political narrative that India had.Post Independence India had it’s bruises and victories alike.A period of renewed vigour but ambiguity regards its sense did abound.Nor were there enough vents for the outlet of ideas[read: the frustrations,the thoughts etc] Dilip perfectly summed up all this in his acting. Last day,in conversation with Satyam,i had pointed out an important scene from Amarcord–an insane man [Aurelio] climbing up the tree and shouting-‘I need a woman’ thereby perfectly summarizing a scarcity of an outlet for sexual drive in literal sense.The metaphorical grammar can take a backseat here. Thus the idea expressed was in line with the times in Fascist Italy where Regime curbed the freedom of expression in various forms!

          Dilip Kumar in the same manner somehow described the generation Post-Independence and somehow managed to entice the audience.It would certainly have been a greater effort had he been influential in imparting a ‘voice of sorts’ to the then youth and somehow using ‘motion picture’ as a useful tool would have been successful at ;directing’ the youth’s temperament. Note how the actor here could have been the social director. In other words as Satyam says–He did not attempt to re-establish norms and values.The contribution to Cinema by Dilip was great but then the amount to which it expressed the ideas vis-a-vis the generation of those times is certainly debatable. But that certainly does not take away even an ounce of appraisal for his acting.Independent of the socio-political ambiance his acting did summarize a certain ‘enigmatic’ portrayal that does force a rationale thinker to reflect upon the nuances of his acting.I have always been an ardent fan of NAYA DAUR–just for the zeal of the protagonist and the immediate sense of attachment to some social issue at hand there.An actor of the stature of DK did deserve to be bigger than just ‘Tragedy King’…but then he chose his own place and was pretty much a master at that.

          Regards Bachchan,he somehow managed to ignite the minds..expressed the ideas through the anger he burped.And the generation identified. ‘Mera Baap Chor Hai’ is easily a reflection of some sense of humiliation that Indian might have been burdened with at that point/juncture and this humiliation came from the existing socio-political structure. The attempt of Bachchan to encompass all such existing frustration and anger clicked with the masses and he became the greatest superstar India has ever seen.Now 70’s and 80’s were the post-delusional period for India after the ambiguous 50’s and 60’s. The resurrection was on with India seeing a twist in its political plays every now and then.Bachchan and Emergency are perfect examples of how a ‘hero’ tall and lean,beats up 20 goons[read:the curses of an authoritarian rule] at one go and still the portrayal comes of emphatically.All because a hero is required to battle the ‘depression’.Bachchan was an answer to that depression and people found their medium for expression.Bachchan became the ‘reason to celebrate’.

          Rise of Bachchan is not only a matter of how well he acted or how smart or how well-looking he was,it’s also a matter of how well did he capitalize on an existing social story and using it as a tool allowed for a canvas for a perfect extrapolation of his emotions. Mark it if Zanjeer marks the arrival of the ‘angry young man’..Deewar cements the same fact.Deewar is like a complimentary read into Zanjeer although paradoxically the protagonist is one each side of the law in both films and the sides aren’t the same.See how aptly Bachchan inspite og being a criminal in Deewar and police officer in Zanjeer exemplify the same thing—redefining the establishment.So the contribution of Amitabh towards the society was great..one should not see the result for cinema in India has seldom achieved any result,but the effort must be applauded.

          There are stars like the Ranbeers and Imrans..then there are Superstars like The Khans..then there is a galaxy where AB and DK are comfortably placed.You cannot gauge their ‘aadi’ and ‘anth’.Just enjoy it!!

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          • The Graduate Says:

            Would like to elaborate on the last paragraph….

            Deewar and Zanjeer go hand in hand. If Amitabh is being chased by the ‘law’ in Deewar,he is somehow chasing himself in Zanjeer.Zanjeer came previously though but the cycle is complete.The point starts with Bachchan in Zanjeer and ends with him.One can see him portraying a complete role,of a police officer and later of a criminal[not literally] and thus he is able to complete a trajectory. In the filmography of Amitabh few films are too iconic–Zanjeer,Deewar,Namak Haraam[ i always confuse with Halaal and Haraam,i mean the RK+AB one 🙂 ], Aakhiri Raasta,Agneepath,Sharaabi and Muqadaar ka sikandar.These are internally violent roles,have a sense of complete revolt in them,either against the personal past or the system.

            Pacino shouted in ‘Dog Day Afternoon’–Attica Attica Attica. The reference was to the incident in Attica Prison incident. A reference to a social story is made here and suddenly feel sympathetic about Pacino. Amitabh although not as vocal as Pacino [in terms of decibel only] but is as emphatic as him to chalk out a relation between his character and the society.Applaud and following immediately followed.

            Amitabh in my opinion is far better in those eased out roles–Chupke Chupke, Do aur Do Paanch,Satte pe Satta, and Namak Halaal[If this is the one with Omprakash as his grandfather] and Amar Akbar Anthony.His angry young man imagery is certainly emphatic but his somewhat chaplinesque portrayal of comical roles with those great facial expressions and that innocence is a complete anti-thesis to the Zanjeer picture where the angst marred the face but the face did not respond and yet you could decipher the angst. Now which Bachchan is your favourite is completely your choice!!

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          • alex adams Says:

            Good elaboration there, “the graduate”.
            “Now which Bachchan is your favourite is completely your choice!!”—-yes, and Bachchans range, versatility, appeal and tanscendence is such that this “liberty of choice” is possible with him.
            The same is not possible with others, even DK to an extent.
            Read my writeup above DK with Bimal roy which is a different sphere altogether though
            Note a certain element of pathos in these films though (even Bimal roys lighter moments have an underlying sentiment of “poignance” in it as a default)
            I actually dont mind the “look at my acting” and even the “arrogant selfish aloofness” in DKs later films.
            Bachchan obviously trumps him in these “finer” aspects .
            When he had no reason to be “politically correct”, bachchan comes up with blog entries like this one…
            http://www.apunkachoice.com/scoop/interviews/i-waited-46-years-to-get-dilip-kumars-autograph–amitabh.html

            Anyhow, another gem from devdas

            To add, the interpretation and modern day rewoking /reinterpretation of devdas by Anurag Kashyap as “dev D” is perhaps one of the best remakes in indian cinema that ive seen (know that many dont find it that gr8 but i feel it is)….

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          • oldgold Says:

            Why did AB wait 46 years? He could have asked for his autograph when they were acting together in Shakti.

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          • shaurya Says:

            speechless… he is something else…. just look at him

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          • Can’t agree that Bachchan is better doing comedy than playing the angry young man. But these do represent two sides of the coin in some sense. The angry young man is much more of a destructive figure at a macro level. The Anthony figure on the other hand (who in many ways has been more universal for Bachchan outside India) is subversive at a more micro level. For Indian contexts the angry young man is a more subversive figure inasmuch as he strikes at the heart of the dominant bourgeois apparatus. Anthony on the other hand seems less so to the degree that he can then be restricted to his ‘box’. Because he is otherwise not stepping out of his environment to attack the existing social order. But there is a neat trick Desai performs here. He shifts the terrain completely. So yes Anthony seems at first glance less subversive but then on the other hand the whole debate takes place in his world! So even as Bachchan moved toward greater institutionalization and seemed less threatening to the existing order he also became problematic in a different way because the debate started taking place increasingly on the terrain of the ‘other’ (to the bourgeois order). And so he was the taxi driver or the waiter or the coolie and so on. The debates in most of these films aren’t ‘metaphysical’ the way they are in some of the Salim-Javed scripts. However they also completely shift the space where any sort of conversation takes place and the bourgeois order is then more often than not placed on the outside. Lawaaris is certainly a key film in the 80s in this sense but also Coolie in some ways because here Desai finally takes his own reconfiguration of Bachchan to a logical end. First off he connects Coolie to Deewar in certain precise ways beginning of course with the all important 786. But also Coolie seems like a film more on the cusp of a political revolution than just about any other Bachchan film. The film has some very potent dramatic moments that are not just ‘ordinary’ and meanwhile the comedy itself often works in similar fashion. So for example consider the moment when the coolies storm Suresh Oberoi’s house and take things over. And outside they are also seen playing in the pool and so forth. Coolie is of course linked to Bachchan’s accident. But the film, one of Bachchan’s most successful ones in the 80s, is also political through and through and in far more urgent ways than any of Desai’s previous films (the same is true for Lawaaris vis-a-vis Mehra.. note how Bachchan even speaks in different Indian languages here..). So the 80s institutionalization of the angry young man or his translation into the ‘one man industry’ also represents a profound shifting of the terrain. The political space is just marked very differently in this phase. And there are very many real moments of ‘solidarity’ from those languages spoken in the context of the Lawaaris themes to the ways in which increasingly ‘proletarian’ types are put at the center of things. No wonder the bourgeois audience (which was still part of his audience) was always so uncomfortable!

            But getting back to Anthony I think this mode also became useful in societies like the Mideast where the political apparatus did not allow any more direct kind of intervention. The carnivalesque mode suggested by Anthony was then useful where the angry young man might have seemed to be too much of a distant dream. In Shakespearean terms if you play the fool you can say certain things (this is different from being the fool). And let’s now tie this to the present. Egypt is one of those countries where Bachchan has been supreme. Mard for example (not surprisingly) ran here for a year or two in continuous shows but they had to keep changing the title as under Egyptian law you couldn’t screen a foreign film for more than a certain time period. Today with the whole ‘revolution’ in Egypt and all the trouble elsewhere in North Africa and the MIdeast the time of the ‘angry young man’ has finally come. In other words if Anthony has remained the most iconic Bachchan figure for this part of the world and for some of the reasons I have pointed out today the space has finally opened up for the angry young man to replace Anthony! Of course note how it is precisely the Anthony type who triggered this entire event in Tunis. The roadside vendor who set himself on fire. Once more.. the bourgeois audiences were unnerved by Bachchan for a reason!

            And what did we see emerge in North India in the 80s? The greater empowering of lower castes or these becoming more politically powerful than ever before. And we’ve seen the history since. Here Hindutva represents the conservative counter-reaction, the attempt to put the genie back into the bottle (note how — though I won’t repeat everything I’ve said on this in the past — Desai combines the two ‘downmarket’ minorities in AAA and opposes them to Amar who does not just represent the majority but also the law.. hence bourgeois institutionalization at its greatest.. it is the former solidarity — lower caste + minority — that Hindutva has tried to disrupt). In cinematic terms SRK’s iconic films of the 90s are also part of the very same move. Comforting to bourgeois audiences through and through. Forget anything politically profound, here the guy even refuses to run away with the girl! He’d rather sit in his his mother-in-law’s lap instead! Is there anything more appalling than this?! We are far far from Bobby! Can there be an authentic love that really depends on the good opinion of the parents and the in-laws (to be)?! This is why those SRK love stories are only pseudo-romances. The real ideological aim here is to give even more power to the bourgeois family apparatus than was available to them pre-Bachchan.

            To get back to Bachchan as a performer I would say that to capture this entire dynamic inside and outside India, to represent both Vijay and Anthony, to be at the forefront of such an event takes a very seminal star-actor whose signature then can by no means be reduced to ordinary notions of the star and/or the actor. It is again a bit like Shakespeare where we don’t say he wrote good poetry or constructed great plays. The event is far greater than this. Bachchan’s gifts inasmuch as these are about the greatest event in Indian cinematic history (and beyond in the ways I’ve suggested) can hardly be compared with that of any other star, no matter how important. It is not that Bachchan was great the way Dilip Kumar is great and he just happened to hit upon a different kind of cinema. This reading is quite false. It is because of who he was and how he performed that the event was set in motion.

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          • I’m a bit late for the party, but glad it’s not yet over, and I can make a few points.
            Regarding the ‘bourgeoisness’ of his films, I think one has to study his complete filmography (since unfortunately not all of his films are available) to find out the percentage.
            Most of the films of his available which I have seen he isn’t limited to that.

            -in ‘Paigham’ he’s a rebellious, strike inciting, factory worker.

            -in ‘Aan’ he’s fighting imperialism where the Maharajah wants to declare democracy but his son doesn’t.
            Incidentally this is a hammer and sickle loving Mehboob Khan film and the theme fits his ideals.

            -Amar is also his film, and while one gets sidetracked with ‘rape’ etc the main part is that the ‘bourgeois’ is defeated by the ‘poor’ and uplifts/joins them (this underlying theme of his film is explained well in the song at the end in the temple – nirdhan bhi hai insaan)

            -in ‘Azaad’ he’s kind of a Robinhood

            -in Kohinoor, while being a prince or something, he actually mingles with the common man and joins ‘sangeet sammelans’ because he loved music.

            This list is from the limited number of films that I have been able to see, and I’m sure one could draw up a much longer list.
            In conclusion I would say, Dilip Kumar was the tragedy king (something people related to after the partition), he was fighting social eveils in others, and was a ‘bourgeois’ in others.
            Those are very good credentials for variety.

            Similarly there were Amitabh films like Kabhie Kabhie, or Abhimaan (many with Rekha) etc where he’s not doing what satyam is writing long comments about.

            PS: satyam please delete my comment somewhere lost in the jungle above. I can’t see it.

            They both DK and AB have done a commendable variety of roles.

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          • I know all of this Oldgold but one must in each case look at what is definitive for a star.. Kabhi Kabhie is not what the Bachchan event is about though of course it is one of his key films for a bourgeois audience. A very iconic film and of course his lines and so forth are legendary but this sort of film operates on the margins of his event.

            Similarly with the Dilip examples Amar is an exception. Was a big failure at the time. Something like Aan is just good-hearted fun with no more seriousness than a number of Hollwyood entertainers it was inspired from. Still it’s one of his biggest hits. And then whether you look at Paigham or Naya Daur these are definitely interesting moments but this sort of ‘variety’ isn’t really what Dilip Kumar’s key signature is about. Much as Abhimaan though very important for Bachchan at that point isn’t really a part of his event.

            Furthermore the bourgeois sign isn’t simply defeated by ‘variety’. Most actors do in fact end up doing a variety of roles one way or the other. Because if the ‘difference’ of the part is not tied to a signature that looks in this direction consistently the impact of the film is also minimal (it might be a hit or a flop but that’s immaterial). In other words you either have a very strong foundational event like Zanjeer or Deewar and you then build on it. However if you’re Dharmendra (who did a vast variety of parts) and do one or two films that seem to operate in the Zanjeer space there is no ‘effect’ beyond the obvious because you are precisely seen as doing variety. And here with Dilip Kumar there isn’t necessarily any continuity among many of the films you mention. They are just parts. Where there is continuity the signature is a ‘bourgeois’ one. Similarly note how Gunga Jumna doesn’t really change anything for the industry despite being very successful. why not? Similarly MeA though a massive success doesn’t really speak to anything in the age. It is essentially a classic. Nothing more. It is not at all like Sholay or Mother India. With Bachchan my assertion is that there is total continuity between Vijay and Anthony but furthermore this difference is something that increasingly his other directors like Mukherjee and so on also accounted for (though Mukherjee in some sense intuits the difference even early on..).

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          • The key signature is what the audience make for a star buy making that film a success.
            If DK’s tragedies, or AB’s angry roles were not made popular (inspite of their other roles) they wouldn’t be carrying these titles.
            So it is what the people of that time chose to patronize.
            During DK’s time as I’ve mentioned, tragedy touched a chord with people.
            I doubt if anger would have worked then. People had had enough of the aftermath of anger.

            You don’t consider Aan in the list, because it wasn’t accompanied by anger, but you have to consider who made it. Mehboob Khan didn’t make films only for fun. There was an underlying aim depicting his ideals.

            I won’t argue with you because opinion is personal.
            If you don’t think my list satisfies you, then its your problem.
            I see the various roles of DK as the variety he had to offer – and the people chose what they wanted.
            Same is the case with AB.

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          • [I’m actually usually very precise in terms of what I say. I never said that ‘anger’ was the key ingredient for a cinematic event. Just that this happened to be the case for Bachchan. Similarly it is not that tragedy is itself ‘bourgeois’. Nothing could be further from the truth. But Dilip Kumar’s tragedies were! I have not excluded Aan for that reason. It is just that I don’t consider it serious enough as a film. An entertainer and that’s more or less it. Much as I love Dharam Veer but I don’t consider it profound in any sense.

            Finally the other point you’re making about a certain period requiring a certain kind of star is also quite obvious. I never stated that Bachchan would do just as well in the 50s! This cannot be said even for the greatest art in any field. Any art/entertainment first speaks to its immediate audience and then transcends the age (or not). But there is no work that starts out as transcendent. That’s not even possible. This hardly devalues the star who is at the helm of an event. So yes Shakespeare is profoundly helped by the ‘economies’ of British colonialism and so forth but ‘he’ is helped, not Christopher Marlowe. The gifts of a titan cannot be devalued for the reason you’re suggesting. But also not all historical ages are equal in any case. So the 70s I would submit is a far more interesting period in Indian history compared to the 50s. But this too depends on one’s political perspective. If one is interested in progressive politics, or a certain orientation of the left one will find much to celebrate in the restlessness of the 70s. If one prefers institutionalization and the cementing of the nationalist fiction one might prefer the 50s. So again when I celebrate Bachchan’s politics there are certain configurations here. Of course it so happens that the Bachchan event is unique within the history of his cinema as this kind of seismic activity was produced at the box office only once and only once for such a sustained period. So clearly his politics configured an entire political space. Nonetheless it still depends on one’s perspective. If one does not like that politics one does not like this event either. As for ‘denying’ the event there are those who deny much greater historical events like the French revolution too (in terms of its significance). With Bachchan the box office evidence is obviously out there for all to note except the biggest partisans on the other side. But one can deny the event even after accepting his box office truth. Because one can make it only about ‘entertaining films’ and deny the politics had anything to do with it.

            On the 50s though (and I have been clear on this too) I have liked the fact that there is so much angst in the films of the trio (Dilip/Dev/Raj.. all in different ways). So actually the mood was much darker at the time than much of the nationalist fiction would have you believe. Clearly disappointment set in early on. But still we cannot stop here. We have to explore those films further. There is nothing as radical as Awara in anything Dilip Kumar or for that matter Dev Anand did. But this too depends on the kinds of questions one is interested in. Much as I celebrate the greater lower caste empowerment that emerged in the 80s. I see a great deal of the violence that ensues as ‘positive’. Why? Because once the upper castes had all the guns and their ‘violence’ was deemed legitimate. One day lower castes got guns too and then it became warfare. The bourgeois perspective here is built on a certain nostalgia which carries its own political choices. Because of course the latter is already more on the upper caste side of the divide than the lower caste one. But also what is seen as the stability of an earlier age is built on mountains of heads and pools of blood. We don’t however see these things. We start counting only when lower castes start doing the same and we call this anarchy and what not (note how in Rathnam’s Raavan the story becomes very different the more one gets oriented in Raavan’s world.. what’s the classic bourgeois move here? hey those crazy Maoists attacking us for no reason other than their utopian goals!.. but what about the kind of state and institutional violence that forces people to become Maoists? One doesn’t need to endorse their excessive methods to understand that the original violence too was very excessive).

            The reason I get into this in some detail is that it’s again about one’s political orientation. I celebrate lower caste empowerment in politics, many don’t. The ones who don’t are not exactly happy with the political subtext of Coolie even though they might find the film entertaining. But I am also not a relativist about this to feel that whether one is on the right or the left is simply a matter of equivalent perspectives. Because one perspectives enlarges the space of representation, one diminishes it. And so I am thrilled when the country’s leading star plays a coolie or a waiter or what have you. Because how often are these cross-sections of society represented? So I don’t consider it equivalent at all whether one’s worldview is like Johar or like Desai. But nonetheless how one approaches cinema depends on what one’s ‘values’ are in this sense. This doesn’t mean I read films only through a political prism. I enjoy very many of Dilip Kumar’s films. But whether in Indian cinema or elsewhere or for that matter any art form from any period of history I am always interested in these ‘deeper’ political questions (‘political’ is never just about ‘politics’ understood in a formal institutional sense but about the entire field of political choices that govern the social fold.. all ‘choices’ are minimally political.. we’re never outside the fold in this sense).

            So it is not a questioning of privileging Amitabh Bachchan as a fan. I don’t need to get into theory to do this. Just his gifts and his box office story are enough to make the case. But I find him an event (the age found him an event!) precisely because of some of the things I’m stating. And yes Dilip Kumar was very influential for an earlier age too but not in the Bachchan way because there is no authentic event to his films the way I read them (though as a star-actor he is an extraordinary influence.. no one’s denying this). The truer visionary cinema of that age came about by way of Raj Kapoor in his greatest works not with Dilip Kumar. and this is not otherwise a black mark against the latter unless of course one gets into a debate juxtaposing him with Bachchan. To put it another way there is no Mother India in Dilip Kumar’s career (though this is a film he could have done.. he didn’t want to play Nargis’s son).

            It’s not about variety in one’s career and doing different roles and the audience rewarding them. That means nothing. The audience rewards many things. Doesn’t mean it’s all the same.]

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          • oldgold Says:

            So then what are you saying?
            You brought up the subject of AB doing roles where he doesn’t fit into the established norms, and I gave similar examples done by DK. You have a problem with that because it isn’t precisely within the bounds laid down by you as to what defines it. Why do you get so complicated when you are shown something different from your belief?
            Then you talk about these signature of the star which is clearly what the audience has thrust upon the star by popular acceptance. Dilip or Amitabh didn’t start doing the role as their signature.
            I was using the word bourgois because you were using it, otherwise I don’t use such fancy name. I would have just said a conventional role or something like that.

            Anyway you have a habit of taking a discussion round and round even when the points under discussion have been taken care of and one has expressed a different point of view which for you is all wrong, because it isn’t coinciding wth yours.

            Yours, like mine is personal opinion. I’m not saying you are wrong. It’s just that I see it differently.
            It’s not even a question of ‘the same generation’ or whatever because I didn’t grow up watching DK’s films. I’m not of that generation.

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          • I could say you have a habit of missing the point! I don’t see how you could possibly miss what I’m trying to say there. I’d suggest re-reading! I never commended Bachchan for variety in this context. Even elsewhere whenever I have referred to the Bachchan event a superficial notion of variety has never been my yardstick. So Bachchan does variety but that’s not my point. And where in this entire discussion centering on the ‘political’ do you detect a point where I have celebrated such a simplistic idea of ‘variety’? In fact I am often implicitly arguing for the opposite. And if I am using certain terms like ‘bourgeois’ I am also referencing a specific ideological position. But this is what my readings of cinema are about. You’re not forced to adopt them. But those were my terms for Dilip Kumar and Bachchan (and in fact others too). Similarly I critiqued his acting style as I found it problematic within his own contexts not vis-a-vis Bachchan. But I then found these to be ‘effects’ that were part and parcel of the bourgeois framework of his films. Put crudely you cannot be the Coolie chap in Devdas! And you cannot be the Devdas chap in MKS. It’s just not possible!

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          • by the way if you have read even a small portion of my stuff Bachchan’s blog but also here (i.e. on Bachchan) you should have noted just how often I argue against these easy ‘resemblances’ or against simply seeing the ‘angry young man’ everywhere in his films without accounting for the distinctions or the ‘fakes’ (to put it harshly). So I’ve been fairly consistent about all of this. I’ve for example had this criticism on Sarkar. And just recently too!

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          • @satyam
            Do you follow whatever is written in books?
            One has to be a discerning reader accepting only this much.
            Nowdays every Tom Dick and Harry writes and publishes books.

            Don’t tell me you believe all that is written in Da Vinci code? LOL!
            I

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          • Your question throws me in a bit of a quandary. Because I’d rather not say what I read unless it is connected to the topic at hand in some specific sense. But without saying it you might find greater encouragement to come up with such incoherent responses! Nonetheless I’ll err on the side of caution and only say that if you did read those books you’d figure out how much I agreed or disagreed with them.

            Should add as a general rule though that one has to be educated in something in a serious way to agree or disagree. Let me frame it in terms that should appeal to you as an Austen fan. If you come across a volume of critical work on Austen you can’t just say ‘I disagree’ without having the foundations to launch that disagreement. And this might implicate more than Austen. In other words it might assume a certain understanding of Austen (not one view or the other but a command over the literature) but also a sense of the critic’s ideological predispositions and so forth. Before you know it certainly the things in which one has to be minimally acquainted with even if not well-versed in start multiplying. Barring all of this the disagreement doesn’t mean anything more than a very personal response. This doesn’t at all mean one has to be a scholar to approach something. But one should certainly come equipped with a certain humility which actually is quite hard when one isn’t aware of what one is unaware of. I am being totally serious here.

            To get to the DaVinci code example I have neither read any of Dan Brown’s books nor seen any of the films but I know something about them and I have for example found Zizek’s commentaries on the books very useful. So it’s all a question of perspective. Incidentally there are certain alternative traditions in Christianity which Brown relies upon for the Da Vinci code. Doesn’t mean its all true.

            In any case I tend to take people seriously when I feel they have a certain understanding and/or expertise and/or insight into something. I tend not to prejudge things. And often one has to take seriously even those whom one disagrees violently with because the argument is framed in a serious fashion. But this also extends to more superficial cultural phenomena which though not profound on their own might give one a deeper insight into the thinking of a culture. So for example why was Ranbir humiliated recently when Deepika and Sonam said what they did about him? On its own it’s just trivial gossip but it feeds into many values/beliefs/prejudices of their society.

            To sum up there has to be an openness to the ‘new’. And what true thinking in just about anything in life requires is getting out of one’s comfort zone. Without this openness, without this willingness to take a risk if you will, one can only wallow in the platitudes one has unconsciously absorbed from one’s environment or else one has developed from the contingencies of one’s nature.

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          • Re: I ( I am not even mentioning Amitabh and Silisila or Kabhie Kabhie, because he never really managed to get past his elf-obsessed narcissistic persona to get anywhere close to real heterosexual erotic passion.

            Hmm, now this has descended to the ridiculous level where it cannot be discussed any further. What crock!

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          • oldgold Says:

            *sigh*
            MUST I read ALL this, satyam?

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          • skip it! I always offer this sincere advice to everyone!

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          • oldgold Says:

            I didn’t skip it, but skimmed through it quickly 🙂

            >Incidentally there are certain alternative traditions in Christianity which Brown relies upon for the Da Vinci code.

            A lot of American authors/film makers etc rely upon misappropriating cultures, religious practices, traditions etc from other parts of the world to sensationalize and give them easy popularity.
            I always say, you have to be drunk, have alcohol running in your veins, experience the effects before you can talk about ‘being drunk’. Observing and interviewing a drunk does not touch the essence.
            Medically it may work after much trial and error and research, above all dedication.
            But who cares. He made money, even if there are some people talking about how educative it is. LOL!!
            There are some soft porn sequels of Jane Austen’s novels in abundance with every other person picking up a pen, titling it Darcy this or that and publishing it. ughhhh.
            At least Michael Moore writes closer home.

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          • “Anyway you have a habit of taking a discussion round and round even when the points under discussion have been taken care of and one has expressed a different point of view which for you is all wrong, because it isn’t coinciding wth yours.”

            This is pretty unfair. Just expanding on something I said in the other note but I am always this way on any given subject. I think I can be accused of many things but not inconsistency. Being insufferable perhaps (!) but not inconsistent. In each case I have the very same concerns and this includes critiquing Bachchan and sometimes in very strong ways on his very blog. And what you think is going ’round and round’ is merely being comprehensive. But yes discussions evolve on a thread. Here I started out with a post on Dilip. Everything I said there still stands. So I’m not shifting positions. I am just adding nuance. Thinking through (in this case Dilip Kumar) even for myself. And here a lot of the rather long responses are often a way to clear something up in my own head. No one is forced to read anything. But yes I like to be comprehensive. I can often be polemical too. I’m sure it seems overwhelming at times (or all the time) but no one has to read anything.

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          • It’s certainly true that Dilip Kumar captured his age much as Bachchan did many years later. However the audience base wasn’t the same (won’t repeat what I’ve said on this) and this to my mind is a crucial difference. Using a more theoretical register I’d say one is a pseudo-event and one the authentic event. Which does not mean the former also cannot be very influential. Dilip Kumar of course was for an entire generation of actors. But the pseudo-event (I agree with certain strains of contemporary though here) is defined as one which essentially preserves the status quo while pretending to be a revolution. And in this sense the reason Bachchan became India’s greatest superstar is because he represented an authentic event, in many ways Bombay cinema’s only real event. But the only other figure in this sense is Raj Kapoor whose films have unsurprisingly remained perennially relevant or ‘vital’ in every age. And of course globally as well in many quarters. There is that fine Chinese film Platform where in a 60s provincial theater Awara is being screened with Chinese subs. And the whole film is ‘about’ politics in so many ways. Bachchan himself has been a huge figure for many de-colonized parts of the world from the Mideast to Africa to the Caribbean.

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    • oldgold Says:

      Thank you The Graduate for a very intelligent, sensitive, and educated analysis of Dilip Kumar’s acting style.
      I have come to know him (and others) on the rebound from most of these ugly contemporary films. Having found a haven (for my taste) in the films of that era I have a great respect for DK, and enjoy his films a great deal. I rate him above Amitabh Bachchan, though he comes a close second.

      Like

  57. alex adams Says:

    “I currently viewing the movie and will have more. I am trying to understand how a “rape” however unconventional can add meaning to a cinema (just because it was done in 50s and a different era and was “hate kay”).”—-hahaha
    What was the “verdict”

    Like

  58. sharmila Says:

    DK = Lata

    Rajesh Khanna = Kishore Kumar

    Bachchan = Asha

    SRK = Rehman

    Like

  59. sharmila Says:

    Raj Kapoor = Mukesh

    Shammi Kapoor = Rafi

    Like

  60. Alex adams Says:

    Sharmila– comparing a spiritual genius like AR Rahman to Srk will no be acceptable even to Srk….lol
    Also don’t really agree to Lata -DK and bachchan-asha but a good attempt!!
    Ps noticed that oldgold is back.
    Dimps-u cannot fault me there. Oldgold has been provided with Internet access over there!! Lol– u remember where the missing ones go… Lol

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  61. Harem mai internet access hai. Ha ha. U know, this reminds me of seinfeld episode where George is experimenting with eating while doing the deed…similarly I can think of people in harem doing it while blogging or posting comments…hahahhaha.

    Like

    • Alex adams Says:

      “Harem mai internet access hai. Ha ha. U know, this reminds me of seinfeld episode where George is experimenting with eating while doing the deed…similarly I can think of people in harem doing it while blogging or posting comments…hahahhaha”—– lol egg jacktly Dimps .
      Everything is available and allowed eg bloggIng as long as the “show” and “action” goes on. I believe in intense multitasking.
      And now everyone knows where those suddenly missing (female ones only) go— don’t want to take any names— one has already been mentioned but there are a few more from here and some more applications have come and are being “looked into”….
      Ps— teacher teacher : what does “doing the deed” mean–is that some land deal– plz teach….

      Like

  62. Sharmila…lata, asha, KK are singers…rehman is not (just) singer. Not sure if this analogy works. You left Aamir Khan here. Maybe AK=R

    Like

  63. sharmila Says:

    lata & dk respect and quality.

    B & ashatai versatality.

    srk & rehman popularity.

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  64. sharmila Says:

    AK = DK

    Like

  65. sharmila Says:

    AK = DK
    DK Bose r Dilip Kumar

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  66. sharmila Says:

    DK + Lata = quality +respect
    Bachchan + Ashatai = versatality + vitality
    Raj Kapoor + Mukesh = soulful
    Shammi Kapoor + Rafi = fun
    Rajesh Khanna + Kishoreda = romance
    SRK + Rehman = popularity

    Like

  67. alex adams Says:

    An ace writeup “the graduate” —u should write more (if u dont do that
    already in another name!!!)
    Agree with Amitabhs rise during those times and there being a correlation to the sociopolitical milieu at that point.
    Also would add to a much later “phenomenon” called SRK(whose acting im not a big fan) but whose ascent in the 90s coincided with liberalisation, rise of the multiplex and the “aspirational yuppie” as well as the “nostalgic indian diaspora” as well as the “sizeable Pakistani diaspora” (who identify with him a lot)
    As for Dilip Kumar—i have only recently got interested in him (surprisingly initiated by a european social scientists and friends thesis) .
    Personally dont cosider his appeal as much symbolic or representative of the sociopolitical milieu of india —there were others like Raj Kapoor, Dev anand, ashok kumar, guru dutt for that sort of thing.
    IMO Dilip Kumar (yusuf khans) place is unique and unparalleled as a star actor in the alltime star actors in india (behind Amitabh bachchan taking everything into account–read the discussion -other thread on Aamir Khan…
    As far as my personal taste and interest goes, i can actually TEASE OUT the specifics of worthwhile dilip kumar—
    im not interested in even Mughal e azam or most of his other filmography including NAya daur or his later innnings including subhash ghai and kranti (although Shakti was again notable–read views above)
    My main specific interest in Dilip Kumar is his association with BIMAL ROY that remains a jewel or sort of crowning glory in the annals of indian cinema…
    A viewing of Dilip kumar in just Devdas, Madhumati is enuf for me to decalre him a thespain or colossal pantheon (if im getting the right word) in indian cinema
    It also is aquestion of personal taste wherein ones personal sensibikities (affinity to the works of bimal roy) has a bearing.
    The role in “devdas” wherein yusuf khan BECOMES the character shows a sort of total sumission and methodic mad perfection rarely seen in india or even cultural ethos.
    As said before quantity sometimes does not matter.
    I dont care as to how many films DK did this sort of thing.
    For eg listen to the work of SD Burman in devdas or of Salil Chowdhury who gave music in v few films in his career. But those few films of each make me doubtful of ranking these two below RD Burman (forget AR Rahman–another whole deabte on another thread)
    ANyhow sample this piece of utter magic from Bimal roy–yusuf khan-talat mehmood-SD Burman.
    Beware–this film, its ethos and songs need a certain “maturity” and “personal resonance” to fully understand its scale and merit. Im not being arrogant here but admitting that a viewing a few years earlier made me sort of ridicule the same work and now–i can fully appreaciate it…..

    Like

    • The Graduate Says:

      Thanks Alex.
      🙂

      For me,I take the ‘Abhinay Samrat’ title associated with Dilip Saab as truly as i take the tag of ‘eternal superstar’ tag of Amitabh Bachchan.

      🙂

      Regards Maturity helping to understand some forms of Cinema,i concur with you there. Devdas can only be understood by the ones who have been in deep love with anything,i mean anything.Its more a tale of love than loss of love and subsequent pain. Dilip nailed it!!

      Like

      • But is Devdas ever in love with anyone? Isn’t this precisely the problem with this story?

        Like

        • The Graduate Says:

          Devdas is more a self-indulgent love story,again a introverted love story.The protagonist interacts with himself more using love merely as a tool.But having said all this,love does get enough projection via this movie.It’s about some deeper sentiments regarding love.One can easily not read the lines of love therein but on a closer look every action had a reason in love and the loss of love.The pain is like a fruit of love,a quitessential part of being in love,a non-separable ‘side-effect’ of love.Thus i remarked that it’s more a tale of love,a violent love.The violence is more within reflected in the turmoil. Its about a matter of reconciling with the loss but then the loss itself in some manner is providing the sadistic pleasure to the protagonist.I never see Devdas a man ‘sad’ in love/loss of love ,i rather see him as a man ‘happy’ to be sad in the loss of love.A man who is surviving on memories and pains and somehow is living his prersent using Chandramukhi as an extrapolation of Paaro. Chandramukhi for me is an illusion for Devdas and a tool for director to bring out the pain. The alcohol and Chandramukhi and they going together have always given me a sense that it is not what it seems.What if Chandramukhi was the apparition seen in the surreal world after the alcohol intake.Might be the way Devdas wanted his Paro to be. ‘Surreal’ defines the tone here.For me Devdas is far beyond just a simple reading.The interplays between Devdas and himself is far too intriguing than just perceiving the pain that he feels.

          I think you will be able to reflect better on it.I have just assembled some jumbled thoughts.

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          • Isn’t is rather about Devdas not being capable of true love? And not loving either one of the central women here? Who in turn are both capable of loving him. So there is certainly love here. Just not on the side of Devdas. There is a sense in which Devdas feels stifled in his socio-cultural milieu. This is where his problems begin. The love story (on his side) is just a mask for this. what he desires is freedom not love but of course he is not the person to bring that freedom about. I would say the ‘tragedy’ here is really about his incapacity to love. He oscillates between Paro and Chandramukhi but actually no woman could really satisfy him.

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          • The Graduate Says:

            I think its more about Devdas looking out for ‘something’ that he does not find in both woman.One can call this as his inability to love but one can also call his misfortune. Tragedy sets in there.What is essential here that ‘misfortune’ defines the tone of Devdas rather than the ‘impotence’ of Devdas to love.Although what you say cannot be completely negated.

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          • there is a useful strand of critique which I find persuasive according to which Devdas is really a damning indictment of Bengali ‘babudom’ of a certain time period. The protagonist feels suffocated in his environment but is unable to break free and furthermore is not even able to understand what he himself is about. In other words so constrained is he that he cannot even express himself in authentic ways even to himself. He remains therefore confused. Now one could say that the novelist is indicting his class but the same critique would have one believe that the novel is quite earnest in this regard. It is cast as a tragic love story but the author is not really aware where the tragedy emanates from . I haven’t read the book but I haven’t seen a movie version that I’ve liked either.

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          • The Graduate Says:

            Replace that ‘something’ with satisfaction as you pointed there, And considering the oscillatory motion between Paro and Chandramukhi as you point out,i again re-iterate that for me Chandramukhi is in some sense what Dev wanted Paro to be but going by the brothel background or a ‘socially ostracized’ background of Chandramukhi ,he never gives into her.Chandramukhi is for me a surreal entity,a dream where Dev goes for seeking peace and the return to reality makes him taste alcohol again.

            A man more a victim of his own aspirations rather than the ‘misfortunes’ of love!!

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          • Devdas is a story of a spoilt loser. The kind of selfishness that Devdas character is shown to have cannot be a lover of anyone but himself.

            Like

          • LOL Rajen you cut to the chase! I should learn these arts from you!

            Like

      • alex adams Says:

        Thanks “the graduate”.
        “Regards Maturity helping to understand some forms of Cinema,i concur with you there. Devdas can only be understood by the ones who have been in deep love with anything,i mean anything.Its more a tale of love than loss of love and subsequent pain. Dilip nailed it!!”–Agree
        (Although I DONT agree with placing DK over Amitabh overall and have major problems there with DK but will come to that in detail somewhere else and have mentioned some concerns already)
        Coming back to “devdas”—Dont blame satyam for finding this story “strange” and having validity issues—something that i felt as well few years back.
        To cut a long story short—it is actually a “complicated” issue which will need a lot of energy and time to explain (will try it sometime if possible, but needs courage…). Actually more than rationalisation, it needs a certain “maturity” and “personal resonance”–not to say that those who cant understand it lack “maturity” in the conventional sense!!
        There is a certain inherent passivity and introverted complexity in devdas that most males identify with–its not for nothing that 3 diffferent eras identified so much with this seemingly dark abstract theme (b4 bhansali made it much moree accessible….)

        A link (think its from iowa university) is a good start—
        http://www.uiowa.edu/~incinema/DEVDAS.html

        Caution—just try to disregard/ignore mentions of srk/bhansali version which sticks like a sore thumb!!
        i can just say that a day comes when one undeestands this “story” and “script” and the way it has been portrayed by bimal roy and DK dawns at u.
        By the way, the way it was done by Bhansali / SRKwas not bad from a popular box office point of view, but it was tantamount to the “prostitutising” of the novel and SRK nearly destroyed the real essence of the role (except the last half hour)

        ps-“Why did AB wait 46 years? He could have asked for his autograph when they were acting together in Shakti.”—finally oldgold has started talking gr8 sense lol….MAybe it is my “harem” at work!!!! hahaha

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      • great discussion- on Devdas, agree on everyting The Graduat says ( but only in regards to Devdas)…

        specifically the following-
        I think its more about Devdas looking out for ‘something’ that he does not find in both woman.One can call this as his inability to love but one can also call his misfortune. Tragedy sets in there.What is essential here that ‘misfortune’ defines the tone of Devdas rather than the ‘impotence’ of Devdas to love

        Like

        • May be I saw /read a different Devdas!
          If we are talking about Sartachandra’s Devdas ( it is not Bimal Roy’s oer SLB’s or AK’s Devdas), the story really isnt about Devdas.It is about two strong women – Paro and Chandramukhi. And as was usual with Sartachandra’s works, women’s characters get special treatment and stand and thats the redeeming feature of the novel/movies. Even if it is called Devdas, he is not really material to the story. He is incidental. A self-indulgent, immature male who doesnt know what he wants, cant figure out a way to get what he wants snd doesnt treat women with respect. His idea of love is warped. it is more about his needs than his love for either woman. It certainly is tragic and he does evoke some pity towards the end when he is found outside Paro’s house. It is not about a man who loved and lost but about a man was basically a loser from the Bhadra Lok. The only meat in the story comes from the portrayals of the women, something where Sartachandra never went wrong. I dnt think he was ever bothered by the criticism of Devads as his character was just a prop to build up Paro and Chandramukhi’s stories. Devdas has found an acceptance in the folklore as a great lover when the truth was he was neither a lover nor was he great.

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  68. I find it hard to participate further in this debate as I dont want to trivialise some one who I see as a major influential force as a star actor and icon in Bollywood industry and probably the biggest male star till AB came along.
    Leaving aside their acting chops which we can debate till cows come home ( tho there is no doubt in my mind), AB’s legacy will be far greater and different.
    Sure, there will be people from the Generation A ( OF THE FIFTIES AND SIXTIES), some for whom this is a political ploy to try and minimise AB’s place in history,some who thrive in being contrarians, some who just love to be noticed by going against the popular opinions and some who are just clueless who will continue to argue for DK.
    When a defining book on Bollywood history is written in fifty years, the first and the last chapter will begin and end respectivley with one person. The other will be far from a foot note,tho. The person who will be a footnote is a short,stammering pretender.

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  69. alex adams Says:

    “I’m a bit late for the party”–oldgold—everyone knows why u were “late” lol.
    ANyhow, as instructed by dimps (see below), back to the “intense multitasking” hohoho
    “Harem mai internet access hai. Ha ha. U know, this reminds me of seinfeld episode where George is experimenting with eating while doing the deed…similarly I can think of people in harem doing it while blogging or posting comments…hahahhaha”

    Like

  70. Amitabh was not playing the lower caste + minority in AAA.Infact he was seperated by his parents and was brought by someone else.Even in coolie he was brought up by somoene else,

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  71. “Why did AB wait 46 years? He could have asked for his autograph when they were acting together in Shakti.”

    He (bigb) didn’t ask for autograph…it was sent to him (a letter I believe) when black was released. Bigb blogged and it was a nice blog…u should read that entry…

    Like

  72. alex adams Says:

    Sooner or later this “script” of devdas does hit most people (its just a quesion of when—-Feel one of the best scripts adapted to cinema in the world!!!!)
    A few exerpts from the useful univ of iowa link above—–(that someone sent me)…
    “In addition to these many “official” versions of Devdas, the story and its tragic characters have also served as crucial referents for such major Hindi films as Guru Dutt’s PYAASA (1957) and especially his KAAGAZ KE PHOOL (1959), which involves a dissolute director remaking Devdas as a film within the film. (Guru Dutt is yet another key figure in Indian cinema whose biography unfortunately resonates with the tormented and self-destructive Devdas.) Indeed, as Gayatri Chatterjee suggests, Devdas is the archetype of what she tentatively calls “the genre of the self-destructive urban hero” in Indian cinema. A loose adaptation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, PHIR SUBAH HOGI (Ramesh Saigal, 1958) features Raj Kapoor in a rare Devdas-like role, whereas MUQADDAR KA SIKANDER (Prakash Mehra, 1978), a more or less unofficial remake, forges the unexpected link between the early 20th-century upper-class Bengali aesthete and Amitabh Bachchan’s Emergency-era, working-class, angry young North Indian man (as Ashis Nandy has insightfully noted). Finally, the masochistic romantic relationships of Devdas are echoed in films such as PREM ROG (Raj Kapoor, 1982) and many others that depict lifelong, but socially thwarted, passions. Although he has become the very model of the ardent lover whose passion is never consummated, Devdas has nevertheless spawned a school full of sad children throughout the history of Indian cinema.”
    “The now-iconic figure of Devdas also might be read as the ritual sacrifice of the young Bengali brahmin to European romantic aestheticism, transporting the sorrows of young Werther-ji into the subcontinent. As noted above, the appeal of that doomed figure, whose self-loathing might express a young audience’s milder frustrations and inability to reconcile cultural demands and individual desires, continued at least into some of the manifestations of Amitabh Bachchan’s angry young man, who nevertheless was more often motivated to fight back, even in vain, than to wallow in passive self-pity. For many viewers Devdas, no matter which charismatic star embodies him, will remain a difficult character to like or admire, but the character demands emotional identification rather than moral emulation; this ambivalent attraction may be exactly what was radical about the original character for at least a generation of Bengali artists and readers. As a self-absorbed, selfish character who is by no means too good for this world, Devdas cannot adjust his damaged ego to what Freud would call the reality principle; indeed, part of the figure’s modernity is in his being defined by an individual ego rather than a class or caste-based morality, a difference that makes traditional heroes appear as unrealistic ideals rather than the type of young man one could actually imagine encountering on the streets of Calcutta in the early decades of the 20th century. Whether the modernist figure of Devdas continues to retain its appeal and relevance for contemporary Indian audiences and postmodern, globetrotting NRIs may be central to evaluating the most recent version of the story.”

    Like

    • yes I’ve read that Iowa piece before. It’s a useful in many ways one even if I strongly disagree on certain points (nothing further illustrates the gap between Devdas and Bachchan than Mukaddar Ka Sikandar.. if one considers this a remake of the Devdas story it is one extremely damning to the original!) leaving aside other bits of the Bachchan text that frankly make this juxtaposition absurd to my mind). I would say that to the extent there are tangential strains in Guru Dutt I have always had a problem with the later as well.

      The problem is that terms like ‘masochistic’ and ‘sad children’ are too vague and abstract unless defined in precise ways. To connect Devdas to a Crime and Punishment adaptation on the one hand and Bachchan’s signature on the other is frankly something I find ‘bull’ (!).

      The connections with European romanticism are certainly useful and here the author is correct in many ways. But with the whole influence thing he just goes too far. Not least because he sometimes identifies the body without considering the very different ‘soul’ in each instance. Just a skeletal resemblance doesn’t mean much. In the same vein I don’t believe Prem Rog has anything to do with Devdas either. Every sad lover, every doomed lover does not a Devdas make. This is different from certain tropes that recur from this story. The jilted lover using alcohol is one such trope. But these tropes are embedded in very different films.

      Like

  73. alex adams Says:

    “just how often I argue against these easy ‘resemblances’ or against simply seeing the ‘angry young man’ everywhere in his films without accounting for the distinctions or the ‘fakes’ “—Agree there with satyam.
    Actually the chronologically earlier occurence sometimes claims a default ownership of the chronologically later one…difficult to prove either ways.
    although oldgold also has a point about “signature”.

    ANyhow talking of ” appreciating devdas”—-
    Reminds of a recent film (truly cult IMO)….
    The key words here are—“the time will come….”

    Like

    • alex adams Says:

      The above aamir khan (dch) link “pairs” with the one below —(not embedding properly?)

      Like

      • Alex…bhabhiji ko sorry nahi bolengay aap (if you want me to translate that in English let me know) 😉

        Like

        • Alex adams Says:

          Yes Dimps — plz translate lol
          By the way—
          Confidential– do not read!!!
          FAO Dimps only—
          Thanx for sending me your pics….
          Ps– did not expect them to be SO revealing….
          Lol
          Don’t worry– won’t circulate!!!

          Like

      • @vatik: whats the big deal…he is just cutting and pasting long quotes from elsewhere (rolling my eyes).
        @Satyam: dude..cannot click “reply”…when we do, the “post” button is missing. Messed up.
        On Shakespeare and Bachchan: I know the impact…have been reading all what you said on Egypt and all. Somehow the makers of the film-cinema, capturing the angst of the era, don’t get credit but the face of the angst (Bachchan) walks away with all the credit. I guess, I don’t have too much problem with that…for now. I think the whole debate you are trying to say that Bigb is a EVENT whose impact is beyond cinema vs DK who was only a good-gr8 performer…you may think he alone was responsible for this “event” but I think he was one of the spoke in the wheel.

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  74. “It is again a bit like Shakespeare where we don’t say he wrote good poetry or constructed great plays.
    Bachchan is quite simply the Shakespeare of Indian cinema. Sure Hindi assures him a certain hegemony much as English and British colonization does the same for Shakespeare.”

    Satyam:…. enlighten me furthur ‘coz I really don’t agree or understand.
    Bachchan is the performer, the face of angry young man. How could you compare bigb with Shakespeare, who was writer-producer-director-actor all rolled into one. According to you both of them were history altering phenonmenon. Breathing Bachchan in same sentence as Shakespeare (for me) is similar to saying lawrence Olivier was great (in shakespeare play) and ignoring the man behind the Olivier. It would be like praising light (bulb) when it is the electricity that is responsible for all lights. It was the cinema (makers) of that era collectively with Bachchan being the face of the (typecast) anger-young-man performer which was the event. Bachchan did not create anything; he didn’t create any of these characters (in scripts); he didn’t produce-direct-scripted the role. He contribution would be that of a good performer and good in choosing scripts (at the most).
    Some how in India, we make our actors deity(ies) that they aren’t.

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    • I was making a structural point. Doesn’t mean Bachchan is literally Shakespeare. On the rest actually Shakespeare wasn’t doing more than small parts in his plays from time to time. He had major parts elsewhere at other points but he probably never played a major character in any of his own plays. So he was dependent on actors. And yes cinema is a collaborative medium but that hardly disproves what I’ve been saying about Bachchan as ‘event’.

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  75. vatikala Says:

    The entire discussion is going in circles by supporters.
    I feel Amitabh Bachchan is number one for the following reasons.
    Bachchan mostly acted in potboilers produced to take advantage of his image after Zanjeer and Deewar. If some other actor acted in them, they would not have become super hits. It is just because of him those movies became superhits. If somebody may say that in that case why other potboilers like Toofan, Jaadugar etc. failed, I tell them that it is because of overdose and his advancing age. His acting has various shades to satisfy all types of audience and thats why even now he is in the reckoning. Otherwise, a film like BHTB would have been laughed off.
    Dilip Kumar cant stand a chance in front of Bachchan in terms of acceptability by generations because the latter was able to build bridges between generations.
    SRK and AK both always have good author backed roles (most of the time) and even if a reasonably good actor replaced them, the films would have been hits. As actors deciding the destiny of films, these 2 have little to boast of and thus in no way can be compared to Bachchan.
    Alex, you really argue well. Even I liked Madhumat, Devdas and other movies of DK immensely. He is like poetry strayed into bollywood by chance.
    Dimps, what is your take?

    Like

    • Alex adams Says:

      “Alex, you really argue well”— thanx Vatikala .
      We shall be happy to see u back here!!!
      U also seem to be talking more sense now.
      Seems the time in my “harem” seems to be doing well ….
      Hahaha
      Carry on…lol

      Like

      • WELCOME back VatiK. “The entire discussion is going in circles by supporters”
        Yes, with Satyam threatening to leave and never leaving. LOL. He loves it more than you can imagine 😉
        “If some other actor acted in them, they would not have become super hits. It is just because of him those movies became superhits.”
        How do you know? They could have been even more hit(?) or flops; one can never conjecture on these things. The bollywood movie makers are sort of jump-in-bandwagon types rather than pure imagination and risk takers. If a romantic movie is hit, you will see string of romance movies. Iftekar will always be the police inspector. etc.
        “Dilip Kumar cant stand a chance in front of Bachchan..”
        I said long back…guru gud rahe gaya aur chela chini ban gaya (meaning the shisya overtook his guru).
        “Alex, you really argue well..” So all is well then? hahha. He also was in harem BTW. Even though he calls it “switzerland” tongue in cheek Alex. This is modern Harem…men AND women are welcome.
        As to his movies (DK)…I haven’t seen all of his work so I am not in this “debate”.

        Like

        • vatikala Says:

          Yes. I followed his arguments visa vis others. While the others used obscurity, alex was clear.
          Dimps, just watch some of Bachchan’s movies where the story is run of the mill and he only made them watchable. Take Deewar. Without Bachchan, the movie would not have worked that well. His serious demeanour suited that role. There is nothing outrageously new in that movie. The songs were dull. I could not sit through Sharaabi but for Bachchan. He did not get very good scripts to showcase more of his talent. Whatever good movies he did was was for more evolved directors. That sort of balanced these masala flicks. Only Don was different. It was even better than Deewar in terms of entertainment value. All said, Deewar was a gloomy movie. He was best at comedy. No one can beat him at that. Not even Sanjeev Kumar. His later day films like Chote Miya Bade Miya also showcased his flair for comedy.

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  76. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Satyam, I agree with you on the politics of Amitabh’s films vs the politics of Dilip Kumar’s films. That was precisely the point of Meghnad Desai’s book. In fact his title is ‘ Nehru’s Hero: Dilip Kumar. So there is no doubt that DK was Nehruvian . But that does not mean that he is not The Greatest Star-Actor in the history of Hindi films.
    Coming back to politics and influence and historical importance, Maintaining the status quo in a positive way is historically as important as disruptive revolution. Akbar is also called Great as much as Lenin is.

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    • Actually I don’t agree with that thesis at all. I have exactly the opposite view. That Dilip Kumar isn’t a Nehruvian star at all (and it would take some time to explain this as well but just the massive gap in his resume when it comes to playing minority characters would disqualify him! Meanwhile as I’ve argued elsewhere Bachchan has never been seen as ‘other’ even by his minority audiences for reasons I have gone into length elsewhere beyond he links specified below.. a similar argument could be made for caste and so on..). Bachhan is, specially in Desai’s vision. And some of this can be traced back to Raj Kapoor. I’ve laid it out in the past here:

      https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/desais-quintessential-political-wager-in-amar-akbar-anthony/

      https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/gandhi-nehru-bachchan-desais-sequence-in-desh-premee

      https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/manmohan-desai%E2%80%99s-naseeb-song-raj-kapoor-amitabh-bachchan%E2%80%A6/

      and then see the comments here:

      https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/bachchan-338/#comment-3840

      https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/bachchan-330/#comment-2986

      And so when I juxtapose Bachchan’s politics with Dilip Kumar’s Nehru lies for me on the side of the former (of Raj Kapoor, of Manmohan Desai) not on that of Dilip Kumar). But in a cinematic sense Bachchan takes the Nehru project further. And here it is important to note that the questions Bachchan’s cinema introduces at the heart of bourgeois institutions and larger socio-political ones are Nehruvian but also because he is not a total ‘destroyer’ either. There is a moment in even those great films when he and the scripts step back from the precipice and force the films to have ‘happy’ endings. That’s another debate but for the purposes of this discussion this too is a Nehruvian gesture who after all wasn’t Lenin! There is that great Nehru story where he was passing through an area in the immediate post-Independence period and saw some people attacking a guy (the usual riots of that period) and he stepped out of the car and ran after one of them with his cane or some such thing. The story might be apocryphal or not but it illustrates nonetheless a certain truth about him which is relevant to the point I’m making.

      The thing with Meghnad Desai is that even as a Marxist historian he seems to have very ‘conservative’ instincts. To be more precise he isn’t against Marx inasmuch as he tries to appropriate Marx entirely for capitalism. Here a clue emerges about Desai’s treatment of Dilip Kumar and Nehru. Precisely the grounds on which I critique Dilip Kumar are the ones that appeal to Desai and he then ties this up with his sense of Nehru. Note how this latter is from my view is a certain ‘myth’ of Nehru as the naive idealistic pacifist and so on. Nothing is further from the truth and even though we’ve had a great deal of revisionism on Nehru for a while and Sunil Khilnani’s monumental and long awaited biography should be huge in dispelling this image (sadly I am led to believe that this work which is about 1500 pages or something will only first be published at half that length as the publisher does not think such a long work has any commercial prospects.. so Khilnani seems to be distilling the longer work at present and hoping for a more ‘complete’ version at some later date). In other words if that is your image of Nehru it ties in well with Dilip Kumar’s cinema.

      By the way Akbar is not at all a status quo king. Safe to say both right and left agree on this!

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      • oldgold Says:

        LOL! I’m pretty sure Meghnad Desai could use words to prove all your theories wrong too.

        Just one suggestion, either you wear rose tinted glasses when looking at DK’s films too, or don’t wear them while watching AB’s.
        This way we can have some balance. Your going overboard with the theories of the politics of their roles (as if the actors wrote them) etc is beginning to drag.

        Why do I get the feeling that your dislike for DK is based on his politics of having a soft spot for Pakistanis etc. same as the feelings you harbour for
        SRK.

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        • “LOL! I’m pretty sure Meghnad Desai could use words to prove all your theories wrong too.”

          I’m sure but in the present context his services will not be available to provide you the rescue you seek in this ‘debate’!

          “Just one suggestion, either you wear rose tinted glasses when looking at DK’s films too, or don’t wear them while watching AB’s. This way we can have some balance.”

          Unfortunately I cannot aspire to your levels of neutrality and objectivity…

          “Your going overboard with the theories of the politics of their roles (as if the actors wrote them) etc is beginning to drag.”

          Oh no.. and I was just getting started!

          “Why do I get the feeling that your dislike for DK is based on his politics of having a soft spot for Pakistanis etc. same as the feelings you harbour for SRK.”

          Dilip Kumar is actually a closet Pakistan supporter which I find to be a hypocritical position and similarly SRK’s soft spot for Pakistan has its cynical aspects. So in each case I guess what offends me is the opportunism more than anything else. Of course this is another strategy when one cannot argue. To launch this sort of ‘dirty’ attack! My sincere advice to you would be to stop before I launch into a proper discussion of Dilip Kumar vis-a-vis Pakistan! For the record I am the least nationalistic person you are ever likely to run into but I don’t expect you to have the ethics to admit this (which shouldn’t be that hard to figure out given all my statements on this subject here and on bachchan’s blog, which too is always extracted here).

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          • oldgold Says:

            >stop before I launch into a proper discussion of Dilip Kumar vis-a-vis Pakistan!

            LOL! At least it will bring *you* out of the closet for all to see.
            Anyway I would have nothing to say in this rightist discussion.

            >I’m sure but in the present context his services will not be available to provide you the rescue you seek in this ‘debate’!

            I thought it was you who needed rescue from your obsessiveness.

            >what offends me is the opportunism
            Ouch! Being an NRI I’m running now to hide under the table.

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          • “Anyway I would have nothing to say in this rightist discussion.”

            I’ve been accused of many things but not this! Oh well there’s always the first time for everything..! But forget myself you will make others laugh here with that statement!

            “Ouch! Being an NRI I’m running now to hide under the table.”

            There is no problem being an NRI as long as one isn’t the most ardent nationalist along with it because it would then beg the obvious question. By the same token if one has decided to become an NRI one cannot have the usual knee-jerk anti-Western attitudes (or whatever the NRI-contexts are) either.

            “LOL! At least it will bring *you* out of the closet for all to see.”

            Unlike you I have some principles in the matter. Which is why I went after Bachchan on his own blog for associating with Modi even if it was only for the purpose of an ad campaign. I don’t think you particularly care whether Dilip or SRK are the most pro-Pakistan people, the most anti-Pakistan people or whatever. You’d support them irrespective of their positions. Much as you otherwise claim to be offended by vulgarity in DB but don’t have a word to add beyond the merely perfunctory when SRK says the most obscene things to a woman in public. So let’s not pretend anything or any issue bothers you when it comes to supporting your favorite stars. And here I will not stoop to your level of innuendo and say that you’re supporting Muslim actors or those who are soft on Pakistan or whatever because I know you like both Bachchans a lot (and in fact ignore every bit of attack on Abhishek). It might surprise you to learn that some of us genuinely believe in certain positions and are not willing to win the argument at any cost. Which is your case involves a classic political strategy of trying to tear me down when you cannot argue beyond a point. In other words you always start out arguing but eventually when you run out of things to say you start attacking this way or else you resort to ridicule.

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          • >when you cannot argue beyond a point.

            Of course!!
            I have a point!! You don’t seem to have one (except obsessively constructing a halo around AB’s head and deconstructing DK – which requires more than a point IMO).
            When I state it, that’s it.
            I stated 2 things.
            -DK’s roles which I found satisfied the criteria set by you in putting AB’s roles on a pedestal.
            -what I think of what you call ‘signature’.

            If you scroll around you’ll see I’ve only stated my POV *once* (not sure if I reiterated my point a second time, but that’s all).
            I’m not trying to impose my POV on you.

            Whether it’s AB or DK they are what they are because of the people – which even they forget sometimes.
            ABjr acts in good films, not bad at acting, but the audience is not accepting him.

            My last word on this;
            The roles were WRITTEN for them and they did them well. When they succeeded the writers wrote them again. As soon as the public’s taste changes the writer and actor have to change theirs.

            AB would never have done those roles if they didn’t succeed with the public. All this nonsense about their politics of acting etc.

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          • many books have been written about such ‘nonsense’ but it requires a willingness to be educated in the first place! If and when you decide you want this let me know and I’ll start you up with a list of half a dozen books or so on Hindi cinema.

            What you’re saying about these actors doing their roles well and being accepted by the audience is true but it’s such a superficial, banal truth that it shouldn’t be repeated beyond kindergarten!

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      • by the way Nehru wrote the foreword for an early Eng translation of Harivanshrai Bachchan’s Madhushala.

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  77. vatikala Says:

    There is one more interesting point. After the bloody partition, bollywood still maintained its secular credentials. It had lots of talented muslim artistes who contributed greatly to Indian cinema along with the bengali intellectuals like Bimal Roy. That era can be called golden era in terms of quality, honesty etc. Dilipkumar and Rafi have more hindu admireres just like Bachchan managed many muslims as devoted fans. Even Khans have ardent hindu fan following.
    Though Bachchan portrayed deprived classes roles, he had the support of bourgeos class or middle classes as they know he belongs to them in essence and what he is portraying is fiction. Thus he could easily do roles in Hrishikesh Mukherjee kind of cinema without any problem. His acceptability was assured.
    Why i brought this religion angle? Because now the industry is divided between Khans and non Khans. This divide is funny rather than worrying.
    And now middleclasses dominate as for as boxoffice matters. They dictate terms. Only they can afford multiplex tickets. And the middleclass is expanding due to liberalisation, private sectore, more opportunities to all. Middleclass is not confined to one community or caste or class anymore. And movies like Udaan, Dhobi Ghat are appreciated. But the middleclass is also divided and thats why a Ready can become a blockbuster while Udaan is also not sidelined.

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  78. “I think I can be accused of many things but not inconsistency. Being insufferable perhaps (!) but not inconsistent”

    Well when I suggested that Mani should have taken Devgan in Ravaan, all hell broke loose; few days later you suggested that Jha should have taken Devgan instead of Saif in the ST/SC role.

    I rest my case!
    BTW: you are not all that insufferable, pedantic, argumentative yes but tolerable 🙂

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    • Don’t believe I responded to your Devgan point at all on Raavan! Of course note what’s different here. Rathnam only had one choice for his part — Abhishek — whereas Jha actually agreed with me and had Devgan initially for that role and went to Saif only when problems developed on this front!

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  79. vatikala Says:

    Dilip Kumar being Nehruvian. His scriptwriters might have been influenced by marxism or communism or even nehruvian socialism because at that time, it was fashionable. And the idea was marketable. Dilip gave his acting skills to those characters and the audience naturally attached those aspirations to him. And Dilip himself might have been a little bit influenced by all that. Same thing with Bachchan as well. It is the scriptwriters who created that angry young man rebelling at injustices and It was always a class struggle, not a caste struggle. Bachchan was the face of those roles. He could have as easily played a heartless capitalist role in Trishul. Now the tables have turned. Now the angry youngmen are sympathising with the naxalites, terrorists, MNS, Anna. The anger has so many faces nowadays.

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  80. By the way for anyone interested Vijay Mishra’s Bollywood Cinema: Temples of Desire is a very useful book on Hindi cinema (there have been some interesting works over the past decade) and on Bachchan he is often quite suggestive in a chapter titled ‘The Actor as Parallel Text’. I have always loved this phrasing but more importantly I agree with the general idea of Bachchan being uniquely a star-actor who exists in opposition to the overall text of the film as much as he operates within it. But here his most interesting point (not for Oldgold who might accuse him of ‘over-reading!) relates to Zanjeer and he ties up Freudian notions of paternal authority and castration with the asvamedha tradition of Vedic times and the subsequent development of the horse as a mythological theme in Indian culture. In essence he approaches the Zanjeer nightmare this way. But also eventually connects the film with lower class urban politics.

    But even early on in his introduction he has this to say after already agreeing that Rajesh Khanna was bigger than any star before and after also saying that Bachchan captured and overcame the entire triumvirate (Dilip, Raj, Dev) of the 50s in his work (and by the way the author is not a partisan one way or the other.. so elsewhere he calls Dilip “probably” the “finest actor” of his industry):

    “… Amitabh Bachchan has been the superstar extraordinaire of Hindi cinema. In retrospect it is clear that no previous star, not even K L Saigal or Dilip Kumar or Rajesh Khanna, ever reached the heights of Amitabh Bachchan.”

    He also goes onto suggest that unlike the 50s when the triumvirate allowed other stars to succeed in the age of Bachchan there were few stars who even had genuine star status because his dominance was so complete. He too quotes the famous ‘bachchan was 1-10’ line.

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  81. And here let me spew (despite the objections of Oldgold) some more ‘nonsense”. I’m going to use Hollywood as an example as it excites less partisanship. I would say for example that Hollywood has been more or less a conservative industry for most of its history barring the very rich period from the late 60s to the early 80s (roughly) and perhaps to some extent in the 20s and 30s (certainly the representation of women here was more empowering than at any time in the following three decades or so).

    This doesn’t mean I don’t love many films from this ‘conservative’ history. I do! It also doesn’t mean that there aren’t very many interesting films during those ‘conservative’ decades. There are! But I don’t by and large find the formulations (including the form of the films) very radical. Now I am also not looking for revolution at every corner. But there are certain films that disturb the basic worldviews of their audience far more than others. Put differently one kind of film an audience finds interesting but is not rattled by. Another kind the very same audience might find be profoundly impacted by. This doesn’t necessarily correlate with the box office. Why? Because a great script can often bridge the distance from one to the other. In other words an audience might be bothered by a film but be able to embrace it for some other reasons. A great script then performs a sort of double duty. Leaving aside the question of films that are ahead of their time (and this is something that is never given enough attention in the debates here.. the extent to which entire movie histories are altered over time or initial flops become classics and initial classics become irrelevant and so on).

    Let’s take a classic example like Howard Hawks who’s made many sparkling comedies in addition to trying out other genres as well. Now one could agree that he did some interesting things within his chosen genres but for me all of that is ultimately not extraordinary. It might be so for genre conventions of Hollywood at the time but because those films don’t disrupt the basic narrative of bourgeois American values I find them to be not more than interesting, meaningful entertainers. On the other hand when you get to something like the Searchers (didn’t do well on initial release, since recognized as one of the great American films) something profound happens here. Ford of course summons up his magnificent screen history but he brings to the fore, using the same set of pastoral elements that define the Western, a very traumatic truth of the American experience. He then places this conflict also at the center of that most iconic (in a red state sense) of American heroes — John Wayne. Suddenly everything changes. Ford then extended this project in Cheyenne Autumn. The Searchers has often been though of since its initial release as the greatest American Western. I don’t quarrel too much with this (even if the Leone fan in me wants to contest it at some level.. but I console myself that Leone is not merely ‘American’!) but what is missed in such a characterization is that the Searchers at least on such a major scale is also the ‘exceptional’ Western. There has been a whole alternative tradition of Westerns and I won’t get into these here but the Searchers brings its questions forward with a certain unique potency precisely because Ford puts his and John Wayne’s prestige and their respect histories to fashion this sort of anti-Western. And here paralleling the argument I made with respect to Dilip/Bachchan about how similar parts might not mean the same unless attached to a larger history and/or event the comparison should be made with one of Anthony Mann’s interesting Westerns. Because Jimmy Stewart operating on that terrain is just not as subversive a choice as John Wayne because of what the former was doing otherwise. Wayne was very connected with the project of reinventing the pastoral tradition in American cinema, re-creating the idyll of American ‘innocence’, acting as a guarantor of Midwestern American values and so on. Stewart did not have the same sort of history even if he was the Tom Hanks of his age (something that Hitchcock used to great effect in his own subversive films).

    So one always has to look at the contexts. An anti-war film in the 1950s means something very different from the same in the 1990s. A few years ago Robert Redford made Lions for Lambs. A perfectly engaging film in terms of pure narrative but frighteningly bland on the politics. So the critique of the Bush administration here is even later than that offered by the mainstream media which was itself too late! So after the whole story has been told, all the sides have been taken and so on Redford comes up with this cliched liberal take on everything! But one could look at it otherwise and feel that interesting questions are being explored! The very same film, had it appeared say some years before it did would have meant far more (even if Redford is fairly unimaginative as a filmmaker here even otherwise). It is about contexts then in addition to of course the essential text of the film.

    Now one can disagree with this entire perspective. But it’s the one I use everywhere. Of course I’d add here that those who think films are only about ‘stories’ and ‘entertainment’ have a hopelessly naive view of cinema. If it were only about entertainment stories about incest should work as well with enough song and dance and comedy to them! as I’ve said elsewhere ‘entertainment’ is not a neutral word. It carries it’s own set of political choices. This is why films give us insight into a culture. These are cultural archives like any other that tap into a society’s ‘unconscious’ and this at the very least.

    let me end with an Indian example away from Bollywood — that of Malayalam cinema. Now I am hardly well-versed in this industry but based on my exposure to the cinema or the 80s and beyond (alas all too limited) and based on what I understand about what preceded it my educated guess would be that Malayalam cinema becomes so great in the 80s because it introduces new kinds of subjectivity with Mohanlal and Mammootty. Stars who represent that which perhaps hadn’t been represented before and who also often work tangentially to their bourgeois order. This at least is my sense based on the 80s work. And one could take as a ‘symptom’ here a classic work like Adiyozhukkukal. My guess once again would be that between Prem Nazir and the two Ms what changes is not just about trends or fashion or audience tastes but about a new configuration of cinema. Of course CG or GF could correct me on this.

    I could keep multiplying these examples but in any case the point is that this is my prism. This is how I approach things. It doesn’t at all mean that I am uninterested in more literal approaches to cinema. These are a ‘given’ however. One has to get beyond them. Because one cannot truly account for why things change or why there are certain eruptions at different points and so forth.

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  82. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Alex Adams, thanks for posting that clip from Madhumati. tired of all these arguments, it is balm for the should to watch that clip. No other actor, I repeat no other actor, can lift acting to to this sublime height. The experience of watching this is like reading Dostoevsky, or listening to Ustad Amir Khan. Revealing the depths of the soul, with a quiet elegance. Politics be damned. There is something above it. And that is music of the soul. and among all the actors in Indian films, only Dilip Jumar knows how to play it.

    Talking of music, the feather scene in Mughal-e-Azam with Bade Ghulam Khan crooning in the background, is unique in delineating the stirring of erotic passion among lovers, never reached again so far, never matched in intensity and subtlety. And they say Rajesh Khanna and Sharukh Khan romantic stars! I ( I am not even mentioning Amitabh and Silisila or Kabhie Kabhie, because he never really managed to get past his elf-obsessed narcissistic persona to get anywhere close to real heterosexual erotic passion.

    Like

    • “Politics be damned. There is something above it.”

      Really? And you love Dostoyevsky?!

      By the way as I’ve said many times ‘politics’ cannot just be equated with formal politics. It is about all the choices that go into the making of a film. It is about the ideological structures that underpin these choices which includes those at the aesthetic level. So for example continuity editing in a classic Hollywood film is about certain political choices.

      The rest of your statement is hopelessly subjective. Which is of course your prerogative. But note I didn’t frame my side of the debate in such terms. I could say watching Bachchan is like listening to Ravi Shankar or reading Tolstoy. What would this mean?!

      Like

    • this doesn’t mean I do not appreciate plainly aesthetic moments in films irrespective of what I might think of the latter overall. But that’s not the argument here.

      By the way note how (leaving aside whether I agree or disagree with your assertion on what stars do romance best) you’re privileging this aspect again and again without telling us why this should be so. In other words De Niro is not about romance the way many other stars might be. So what?! Even if completely agree with your assertion what does this mean? Without any greater theoretical underpinning here why couldn’t you also say that Dilip Kumar cannot represent anger like Bachchan or be as stylish as Dev and so on? Why this arbitrary choice?

      The problem is I not that your reasons are highly subjective ones but that one cannot argue with them the way they’re framed. So I have laid out what my position is which you can disagree with or not. But if I said that I think Amitabh is greater because he’s taller or because his action scenes are better than those of anyone else how would one argue with this?!

      And again I do not dislike Dilip Kumar. Nor is what I’ve said about Bachchan in this context about my liking. Those are different things. For example I love how Bachchan walks across the bridge in Don. As a purely stylistic gesture I find it extraordinary but that is not what my side of the argument is centered on. I could of course introduce this gesturality into the argument but I would have to define how this fits into my overall reading of Bachchan. For the purposes of this debate. In other discussions about style and so on I would not have to say more than ‘I love how he walks across the bridge’ or how he holds the beedi in his mouth in Deewar or whatever. Now of course I do ultimate believe that these aesthetic choices are politically framed but the point is that these could be framed on their own as well. So for example if one wants to talk about how the body comes across on screen (and here certain factors become important) and how for example bachchan’s lankiness or his height can be effective on screen and so on for other actors even this is not independent of a political framework. Because are notions of what is ‘beautiful’ in this sense changes. So Deepika Phadukone fulfills a certain standard of beauty today but this wasn’t that of the 50s. There are always choices involved.

      To get back to romance and how it is depicted on screen and so forth again tastes change in this regard. A current generation would find the whole gesturality of the 50s ridiculous in this regard. What has changed? The very ‘idea’ of love. The same is true for the other arts. There is a great tradition of love poetry in the West but it is dramatically different based on what age one is looking at. It would then be meaningless to say to simply privilege one over the other without further elaboration. The idea of love doesn’t change but the expression does. Plainly one has to therefore orient oneself in different ages. But this goes both ways. One cannot define Dilip’s kind of romance as the only possible expression of love. One should recognize it as a canonical moment in this sense but not the only possibility. Because remember for an entire generation in more recent decades the ultimate expression of love has been Bachchan’s recital from Kabhi Kabhie or Silsila. These are among the most iconic lines of the ‘history’ that this age operates with. So clearly the expression of love has undergone a change from Dilip Kumar’s feather moment in Madhubala to Bachchan’s poetry in Kabhi Kabhie. Now as a matter of fact I don’t personally consider Bachchan the touchstone of romance in Hindi cinema nor do I consider any of his pairings the greatest for this reason, not even his legendary one with Rekha. But I also wouldn’t take any of Dilip Kumar’s pairings for a very different set of reasons. If you asked me my ultimate pair in this sense would be Raj Kapoor-Nargis (and of course this was even recognized by that age as the greatest pair) but I am also quite partial to Rajesh Khanna-Sharmila Tagore. Why? Because in each case I find better expression of the romantic-erotic than anywhere else. Now if one doesn’t like the romantic to be laced with the erotic one will look elsewhere. Similarly the feather moment while plainly aiming for the erotic comes off as a bit fetishistic to me though I can see why it was loved so much by a whole generation.

      So it’s all a question of how things are framed.

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      • vatikala Says:

        Feather moment. Now if a boy wants to use a feather, where should he go? To Maneka for permission? After he selects the feather, he should tell his girl just to close her eyes. She will think of some great gift. Then the feather will touch her and she will shriek thinking that some insect has crawled over her face. The boy with that feather will look like a freak to her.
        Moral of the story. Avoid feathers.

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  83. Rajen…I believe UM was talking about SRK

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  84. My own predilections aside, I think it’s nice to see some love (intense in some cases) for Dilip Kumar. I’m not his biggest fan and beyond his early years, he wasn’t interesting enough in any real or practical sense, but he WAS an institution for all aspiring actors in BW. In his younger avatar, he was quite a handsome Pathan, with a naturalistic style that proved to be quite inspirational.

    He was a genuine star; an actor of considerable merit, who unfortunately started believing his own legend quite seriously. For all his trappings (and trippings, as an actor), in his later years, I will forever remember him as a ‘dehati’ from Ganga Jamuna or as the street-smart Shyam from R&S. For someone who was constantly labeled a ‘tragedy’ king, he revealed his true colors in lighter roles. Wish he had received better advice when he grew a bit older…

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  85. @saket: “he was quite a handsome Pathan, with a naturalistic style that proved to be quite inspirational.”

    You never had any problem with his eyes? Funny. Don’t like his eyes at all…even when he was young…prolly needs a chasma big time…

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  86. “To sum up there has to be an openness to the ‘new’. And what true thinking in just about anything in life requires is getting out of one’s comfort zone. Without this openness, without this willingness to take a risk if you will, one can only wallow in the platitudes one has unconsciously absorbed from one’s environment or else one has developed from the contingencies of one’s nature.”

    One has to have open mind. e.g. if a particular offspring of a particularly famous nay legendary actor is hamming his way into movie after movie, is flop and doesn’t have huge fan following or BO openings, then one has to have open mind to entertain that he might be responsible for his many failures, instead of bourgeois having agenda against him 🙂

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    • In your case I would advise you to be serious before all else.. as I said before I am so sorry I am in agreement with Mehra and Bhansali and Rathnam and Gowariker (and many others) and not in agreement with Dimps on this matter!

      Like

  87. Alex adams Says:

    Continuing on my treatise on “devdas” and the univ of Iowa link I posted above—
    In plain speak , it’s a v interesting character with whom many (including me) won’t agree or will find him a loser selfish self indulgent persona.
    This reminds me of my own different interpretation of the same few years ago.
    It’s a sort of perception that changes not as much with ones chronological age but with a combination of EQ (emotional quotient), insight , empathy and physical intimacy (&detachment )
    A “selfish” persona cannever go on a path of self destruction & detachment to the point of no return….
    IMO this is one of the most masterly created character sketches . The problems are that to the unsuspecting , the ambience gets distracted by in relatively incidental features like alcoholism and obsession.
    As I said above , “there comes a time…..when it seems plausible”
    (btw I’m not marketing myself as a “love guru” here but stating a few aspects that lead to the misinterpretation of this unique entity)
    Ps– utkal did not e xpect u to be so much interested in psycho erotic heterosexual energies etc. Will cum Bak on that!!Lol
    Good to hear u liked those devdas links…
    A
    And hope satyam gets a devdas-esque realisation soon. It willbe a big day(or nite) and will bs quite obvious from his writings hahahaha

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  88. Alex adams Says:

    “And hope satyam gets a devdas-esque realisation soon.”— but hope this “realisation” and “initiation” is not with UTkal….lol
    Nooooooo
    Btw utkal– suspect u r also a uttam kr and suchitra
    Sen fan (besides satyajit ray)
    Like that creative tinge in bongs….lol

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  89. OK – the big B himself on Devdas-

    Bachchan said there was a generation that loved K L Saigal as Devdas. “For my generation, Dilip Kumar was the ultimate Devdas. For today’s youth, it is Shah Rukh. Tastes and preferences change with generations as one goes about remaking the same product.

    Read more at: http://movies.ndtv.com/movie_story.aspx?Section=Movies&ID=ENTEN20110178224&subcatg=MOVIESINDIA&keyword=bollywood&nid=113514&cp

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  90. @oldgold: I thought you wanted to be part of the partay
    @Satyam: More non-serious stuff. Dk: Tragedy king Bigb: angry young man Kamal Hasan: versatile actor who can straddle romance and tradegy.Conclusion: fate gave bigb chances which were “denied” to others such as kamal hasan, who could have been, with his good looks, good diction in hindi and awesome acting chops, could have been legendary as well.

    Like

    • Not really.. because Kamal was not able to become bigger than Rajni in Tamil in a box office sense though he has otherwise been one of the twin pillars of Tamil cinema for an entire generation (here Tamil cinema has this interesting split.. an earlier generation had MGR/Sivaji.. one the supreme star and one the thespian.. at one point they had their own triumvirate with Gemini part of the mix). Getting back to Bachchan it’s not just about parts but also about the star having the right physicality, the right gesturality and of course the performance to be able to really bring out the full potential of those scripts. Kamal by the way has won many National Awards because rather unfairly they didn’t award one to Bachchan’s great performances because of a bias against that sort of cinema. Eventually they gave it to him for Agneepath. if he deserved it for Agneepath he deserved it for tons of films. But of course and much as I love Kamal I don’t consider him the equal of Bachchan. I would also take Mohanlal and Mammootty over him. By the way there is a common tendency to split actors into various genres and then try to figure what they were good at or not. This is fair upto a point as it demonstrates versatility and so on but when you get to an ‘event’ star-actor these things go out of the window in the sense that they are beside the point. So Bachchan for example cannot be reduced to the sum of his parts. These rules apply to ordinary stars. And to repeat something I said earlier in this regard when a star-actor is that much of an event he doesn’t necessarily have to be that versatile. No one would confuse Rajni’s acting talents with Kamal’s but such has been his event in Tamil cinema that it doesn’t matter. Because what Rajni represents Kamal can never overcome with all his superior acting gifts much as Sivaji could never surpass or equal MGR as a mass star.

      Like

      • vatikala Says:

        So you rightly call Bachchan, Rajani , late MGR, Late Dr.Rajkumar, Late NTR as events who just cant be replicated.
        Dimps, here Satyam is not talking about pure acting talent. He is talking about something extraordinary. So dont hope that Ompuri, Paresh, N.Shah or Vidya can ever compete in this space.

        Like

      • Vati…interesting…can you think of any heroine who was such an “event”. So why only male protagonists? So much sexism in bw! I would (also) definitely take Mohanlal over Hasan. Just subjective bias I guess.

        Like

        • vatikala Says:

          Heroine is derivative of sorts from hero. So hero is the main thing. Unfortunately heroine is second fiddle or secondary. There may be heroine oriented films but heroines shelf life is nothing compared to the heroes. Afterall, its is still a man’s world.
          Try to read between the lines in my commentaries. You will get a wholly different viewpoint.
          Between Mohanlal and Kamal, Mohanlal is more talented and Kamal is more handsome. There is one Gopi in malayalam movies whose acting is also quite remarkable. Malayali filmstars have really acting in their DNA unlike others.

          Like

  91. I know Vati.
    Good to know that you have “inside” info…LOLz.

    I also belive a lot had/has to do with bigb’s work ethics, his background, his perseverance etc. I personally believe that what you are in real life, gets transposed into reel life. So for instance (I believe) that being a good human being (for instance) will have an impact on your performance (and many other levels which I don’t want to get into). Its like single minded focus of Arjuna (who could see only the eye of the fish) versus others like Shatrughan Sinha who waasted lot of time in “politics”

    Like

  92. On Amar: Amar has had physical attraction from very first scene onwards towards Sonia (dudhwali’s daughter) and there are references “crow bit my finger” or “dog bit my finger” implicating the lower status of the woman involved and “poison” spreading thro’ the body, for an injury inflicted by Sonia. Amar fallen for Anju (Madhubala) in subsequent scenes (arranged-love marraige impending). Saw the “rape” scene. I didn’t quite realise what exactly is happening (youtube..maybe the listings are not properly insync). She is somehow in Amar’s home (couldn’t figure out why or how).The glass shatters in the *rape* scene (implicating intercourse I am assuming) and from the next scenes where Nimmi is crying/dejected walking towards her home, one can assume that it was not consensuous OR it is likely that she regrets what happened. Since she is dudhwali’s daughter marraige is out of question (I presume) and meanwhile What follows in various scenes is Amar trying to “get rid of problem” by choking Sonia/Nimmi trying to kill her or throwing wallet full of money to Nimmi’s mom for her marraige etc so that he can move on with his own marraige. So more than guilt, I felt, he just wanted the problem to go away. At the scene of Nimmi’s marraige, our (anti or un) hero Amar, trys to force Nimmi to marry against her will and says “who is that person who did *this* to you…he should come forward…” etc while the audience knows who the real culprit is. So again a bourgeois hero who is truely a villain. In this scene, the “villain” (Jayant who loves Sonia from the first scene) shows lot of courage and “manliness” by showing his support/love and getting the parents of the girl to accept her back into the household, against their will and on his knees he begs Nimmi (quite a moving scene) which instantly wins the audience sympathy for the “villain”. Inspite of *rape* which is referred to as “sin” in the movie by our (un) hero, Sonia’s loves only deepens for Amar (go figure). In the final scenes, Amar ends up killing Jayant who had discovered the culprit behind Sonia’s pregnancy (it is only at this point when pregnancy is declared, audience has final “proof” of what actually happened that night). First “rape” or sex. Then murder. 2 stricks against our “hero”. Immediately after the murder, in the final court scene, Amar in the last scene accepts that he was the true villain and marries sonia, which is extremely unconvincing…seemed like Mehboob khan just wanted to wrap up the movie and go home. Our (anti) hero, goes thro’ “guilt” if you want to be extremist in your judgement. I felt, he just wanted the situation to be gone, so he could carry on with his life but the situation refused to go away and he was left with no option due to pregnancy of the low class maid-Sonia. No where he has any love or feelings for Sonia. I found Amar and Sonia’s characters very regressive and utterly unconvincing. The true hero of the movie then is Anju (madhubala) who shows lot of progressive ideas from the first scene till the last one. Sonia is self-sacrificing, loving Amar without any strings attached and crying thro’ the entire movie in the typical victim mode suited for her class (I guess according to director). Dilip/Amar writes a letter confessing the “sin” but never reveals it to the heroine (Anju) and is sort of non-action, brooding character (though I don’t think he has remorse or guilt until the last scene).

    Like

  93. Alex adams Says:

    Oldgold raises a pertinent point about people “picking up a pen” and writing “novels” — although I am not into the “soft porn sequels of Jane Austen ” lol
    Btw I also take credit (as always) for oldgolds intelligent comments lately which seem to be related to my “harem” lol
    Anyhow on a serious note—- the act and te art of “reading” is dying and there is no two ways bout it. So t the decline in the quality of “writers” and their “subjects” is not surprising!!
    I admit to be a sufferer — I am now incapable of having the patience of reading anything more than a few paragraphs at a stretch ESP if is fiction….
    The only text I read is that which is compulsorily part of work…
    Otherwise “multitasking” in front of a comp or laptop or smartphone has becum a sort of a malaise.
    Even the “books” are actually audiobooks or someform of multimedia…
    Still feel however that the conventional “book” does incite imagination and active comprehension skills that these other avenues still cannot provide.
    Unless one goes into the latest simulation capsules where one can experience not only sights and sounds but also simulate kinship , acclerated knowledge transfer, companionship and even sex….
    Which brings me to another area of my interest (& side work) currently—-
    All the professors, scientists, thinkers and researchers are at the peak of their knowledge , acumen, competence and even skill …
    It’s the biggest misfortune that after their bodily ageing and eventual death, this entire knowledge bank suddenly comes to naught (except their books, teachings, students etc)
    In this day and age, it is incumbent upon civilisation to create a reproducible, comprehensible and repeatable log and database of the imp bits of this knowledge.
    This is not far off nd may take a couple of decades but this data capture o the “Human mind” will transform civilisation forever!!!!

    (c) Alex adams

    Like

  94. Watch this scene VatiK and tell me what you think ab

    Like

    • Alex adams Says:

      Too blurred …
      But is this that “abstract rape”” lol

      Like

    • vatikala Says:

      I have to watch it full to think about it.

      For me, Dilip Kumar is a positive hero. I just cant bear to watch him in this negative role however great his acting may be.

      But as all of you are discussing this movie so much, i will try to catch it someday.

      Like

  95. alex adams Says:

    think this thread has come out as probably one of the best ones on this blog….
    v good discussion(s) here on various topic(s)

    Like

  96. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    To those who think Dilip Kumar’s films don’t connect with today’s audiences, here is the Rediff readers survey ffindings with Dilp Kumar votes as No ! :

    http://www.rediff.com/movies/slide-show/slide-show-1-readers-choice-the-finest-indian-actors-of-all-time/20110627.htm

    The full list:
    10. Rajnikant, 9. Shahrukh Khan 8. Naseruddin Shah 7. Sanjeev Kumar 6. Pankaj Kapoor 5. Balraj Sahni 4. Raj Kapoor 3. Amitabh Bachchan 2. Kamal Hasan 1. Dilip Kumar

    Like

    • LOL.
      This is a bogus poll.
      It does not say anywhere that this is the order of ranking except saying Rajini is in the tenth spot.
      If you look at the poll, it seems like the voting was by responses and comments. And, if you look at the comments , AB is the clear number one. 432 comments.
      So , obviously this is a concoction and a misrepresentation and to top it off,misinterpretation!

      Like

    • Utkal perhaps you missed this on Bachchan in that list:

      “Forty years and counting. The Big B is a legend without parallel in Indian or World cinema, a man who has been ruling the industry for an unfathomably long time. ”

      Sure you still want to quote this list?!

      Like

  97. vatikala Says:

    This must be Raja Sen’s list.
    Surveys are limited by nature.
    So this list becomes only one of such lists compiled by all and sundry.
    Rediff. readers use foul language and foul thoughts. Can we expect anything substantial from them? They abuse everyone, if we go by the comments.
    Including Dilip Kumar at the top, does not give this list any value automatically. I dont have any problem with his being at the top as he actuallly deserves such honour. But still, I dont endorse this list.

    Like

  98. Late, very late to the party but it’s been an interesting read. Not least for the passionate discussion on arguably the two most impactful thespians of Hindi Cinema. I suppose I should declare here and now that Amitabh Bachchan has never done anything for me as a screen figure. My love for cinema is instinctual, from the gut and while I can learn to appreciate, and even love a certain performance or actor, my likes and dislikes originate from that first instinctive reaction. Perhaps not the most cerebral way to enjoy cinema but there it is. And I have never reacted to Amitabh well. Whatever people see and idolise in him, I don’t see it, I don’t get it and I never have. Perhaps I never will. But I absolutely see it, and get it in Dilip Kumar. For all that his craft perhaps seems dated in some performances, especially in his later work, there remains an inherent trait in his acting that touches a chord with me. For now, that trait remains inexplicable, although I look forward to a time when I can articulate it better. But whereas I watch Amitabh films and performances rather dispassionately, wondering what all the fuss is about, watching Tarana, Devdas, Madhumati, Andaz and even Naya Daur, is altogether a different experience. Suffice to say, I am firmly on ‘Team Dilip’ in this regard. I will comment though, on the ferocity of argument that leans towards the anti-DK sentiment, for lack of a better word. There have been accusations that fans of Kumar are perhaps ardent in their support for him directly because of their unease with Bachchan’s success and his ursuping of Kumar as the ‘GOAT’ of hindi cinema. It appears to me that the reverse is actually the case; far too many Bachchan lovers, in my experience, are all too eager to dismiss DK’s standing, particularly in comparison with ABsnr. Wonder why.

    That said, Amar was not a favourite of mine. The film utterly derails once the rape occurs, not least because the once fiesty heroine, Nimmi, suddenly turns to mush at the sight of her attacker! That was a bit hard to swallow. Of course, one has to appreciate the era in which this film was made, a hero like DK could NOT be seen to be the bad guy, no matter how much towards the grey shades he veers. So the victim, as a character suffers instead.

    Madhubala here though, is a glorious respite from all the misery. She’s as stunning as I’ve ever seen her. Good performance from her too, she holds the tattered pieces of the second half together with the dignity of her peformance. It’s not a great film but it would have been much more tedious experience without her in it.

    Like

  99. When I first saw Amar – I fell in love with Dilip the great actor. I dont agree at all with the write up -‘ what is right in Amar…’ that Dilip does not do justice to the character…. you really feel his character – and all that he is going through – the guilt – superb!!! Dilip is the greatest of the greatest actor – Amar just proved it once again… there is nobody like him. Amitabh is a great actor – but Dilip kumar is lajawaab. May god bless him with a long life and very good health. He has given so much of joy to everyone… Love you dilip saab. There is nobody like you…

    Like

  100. Watched Amar recently on a flight . Pretty much agree with Satyam’s views here. One thing that surprised me was the manner in which the director potrays his 2 heroines – whenever we see Nimmi, we see someone whose clothes are always in a state of disarray and someone who perhaps is wearing her passion on her sleeve. Madhubala though a modern and well to do girl, in contrast is always sombrely dressed in saris fully covered !

    Like

  101. Here is a photo line up from rediff. It tells you who is who. Great to see Nanda after all these years. She has changed of course–but looks good and cheerful. I used to really like Nanda in her films.

    http://www.rediff.com/movies/slide-show/slide-show-1-srk-salman-aamir-at-dilip-kumars-birthday-party/20111212.htm




    Like

  102. vineet kumar Says:

    GREAT POST SATYAM, U’RE MY FAVORITE.

    “A character struggling with his angst but not at all oriented towards the world. And these inner ‘withdrawals’ are once again not sufficiently modulated. and this is different from being an actor of reserve or doing the understated performance”

    What a brilliant revelation of DILIP KUMAR. 100% TRUTH

    Mughal-e azam surely confirmed this view of dilip kumar, which i watched recently. he seemed to be uncomfortable in the colossal mughal palace, & seemed to be searching some private corner somewhere where he could talk with himself !

    I read the whole debate between u and utkal mohanty(a dilip kumar obsession) and now can give my own conclusions:-

    Dilip kumar perfected an acting style which was indeed good,i.e., underplaying a role, portraying tragedy without going over the top.
    This went on from on of his earlist roles, Andaz(1949) to one of his last films Saudagar(1991). here i don’t say that he didn’t try to do something different. He tried hard doing comedy in Azaad (1955), but unfortunately, can’t do it convincingly. It was not his fault, he just could’nt do it. He then tried the same genre in Leader(1964), but in vain, as the film flopped [& was one of most absurd films of 20th century]. Dilip kumar now realised that he did a great blunder in not changing genres of acting early in his career. in some ways Ganga-jamuna(1961) was his last good film. After that he was not able to do better films as there was no director from Indian cinema’s GOLDEN AGE period to direct him(Mehboob khan, Guru dutt, Bimal roy, all died between 1964-66). Dilip kumar just didn’t had any option,but to retreat to his same acting style, but now in an over the top & “look how i do it” fashion. From tragedy king in the 50’s, he was converted to Flop king the late 60’s. even when he returned with a bang in Shakti(1982), he was quite over the top, & in his same former typecasted avatar.

    i don’t have any personal enmity with dilip kumar. i just see that he had fairly limited acting abilities. Yes, he could have underplayed tragedy better than any other actor in the industry, but just could do ONLY THAT. This was his tragedy. This could be attributed to
    1) Becoming a film star very early in his career(courtesy devika rani)
    2) having absolutely no background of acting before entering into films(never worked in a theatre, or something like that, which helps actors develop diffreent acting styles)

    Though having 8 Filmfare awards and dadasaheb under his belt,& fans pressing for a Bharat Ratna in his honor(which i see as RIDICULOUS), dilip kumar is far from a GREAT ACTOR of hindi films. He is highly OVER-RATED.

    To sum up, i want to quote one of the lines which i read in the above commentaries,” may be once dilip kumar was one of top actors of BonmbayCinema ,but Amitabh Bachan has replaced him) .Now no-one considers dilip as the greatest Bombay actor, amitabh is the new and the most famous MAHAYANAK of hindi cinema.

    Like

  103. hey, a thanx would not do

    satyam, i want to know what do you think of my article.
    please let me know my quality of writing.

    Like

    • agreed with some of your points but I think you are too harsh on him. He represented for an entire generation the ‘ultimate’ in acting. Now I am not a fan myself but I do take seriously his ‘event’. And my own dissent in this sense does not amount to a dismissal.

      Like

      • I understand dilip kumar’s acting reputation was formidable. From rajendra kumar to shahrukh khan, his influence his seen. But that should not qualify him as one of the “GREAT ACTOR” (in auteur sense) of hindi cinema. If we begin judging someone’s greatness just by the magnitude of his popularity and influence, we would have disastrous results. today, most amitabh bachhan crappy films(mard, shehanshah, lal badshah, hum, ganga jamuna saraswati) are regularly shown on television and majority of people cherish these roles( old, children equally). amitabh’s “ANGRY YOUNG MAN” persona in my view is having the biggest fan following. Today, every other actor wants to be AMITABH BACHHAN. so, what does this lead us to think, AMITABH IS THE GREATEST ACTOR?

        no, absolutely not.

        In my view the greatness of an actor should be judged by the number of “BEST PERFORMANCES” he gave, & not the number of hits or his influence on other actors.
        e.g., most actors preceeding Naseruddin Shah won’t admit him as their influence, but that would not decrease naseruddin’s greatness. Nasruddin was a far greater acor then dilip kumar in “auteur” sense. Has done fantastic tragedy in MIRZA GHALIB (gulzar’s TV serial series), far far better than dilip. Even guru dutt has better tradedy than dilip in Kagaz ke phool. Sanjeev kumar has done great tragedy in Sholay.

        I am not a big fan of RAJ KAPOOR, but 2 of his performances, in Awara(TIME MAGAZINE rated it as one of top-10 performances of all times) & Jagte raho, no dilip kumar could ever match that calibre. Even though RAJ KAPOOR was primarily a producer and produced films all his life, irrespective of whether he acted, he has such performances, which dilip doesn’t have.

        okay, dilip has DEVDAS(1955), which could be cosidered his ultimate film. but here also, this can’t be counted as one of indian cinema’s greatest acting potrayals. In the original version of DEVAS in 1935, a masterpiece by P C BARUA, K L Saigal did a far greater job than dilip kumar. if you see this 1935 original hindi version you would easily forget 1955’s version[what a shame, that only place were this 1935 vesion is, is in NFAI] . Even if K L Saigal won’t be counted as one of indian cinema’s greatest actors, he did GREAT ACTING in devdas & gave india it’s 1st cult figure “DEVDAS”. Though theatrical acting and Larger-than life acting was in vogue then (in 1930’s), saigal did a great job,. Dilip Kumar was neither able to match that performance nor popularity in his time.

        Citing so many examples and lengthening my article does not make me happy too, but your statement to call him an inspiration for an entire generation is what displeases me. To be called one of the greatest actors of hindi cinema, you should have a certain number of great prerformances in the history of your cinema,in which no one could compete you. If others could do much better job than yourself , then you would no longer be considered as the ultimate. Unfortunely DILIP KUMAR does not satisfy the conditions to be called as one who

        “represented for an entire generation the ‘ultimate’ in acting”

        What do you think??????????????

        Like

  104. please satyam, answer me

    Like

  105. sukanya sharma Says:

    I understand dilip kumar’s acting reputation was formidable. From rajendra kumar to shahrukh khan, his influence his seen. But that should not qualify him as one of the “GREAT ACTOR” (in auteur sense) of hindi cinema. If we begin judging someone’s greatness just by the magnitude of his popularity and influence, we would have disastrous results. today, most amitabh bachhan crappy films(mard, shehanshah, lal badshah, hum, ganga jamuna saraswati) are regularly shown on television and majority of people cherish these roles( old, children equally). amitabh’s “ANGRY YOUNG MAN” persona in my view is having the biggest fan following. Today, every other actor wants to be AMITABH BACHHAN. so, what does this lead us to think, AMITABH IS THE GREATEST ACTOR?

    no, absolutely not.

    In my view the greatness of an actor should be judged by the number of “BEST PERFORMANCES” he gave, & not the number of hits or his influence on other actors.
    e.g., most actors preceeding Naseruddin Shah won’t admit him as their influence, but that would not decrease naseruddin’s greatness. Nasruddin was a far greater acor then dilip kumar in “auteur” sense. Has done fantastic tragedy in MIRZA GHALIB (gulzar’s TV serial series), far far better than dilip. Even guru dutt has better tradedy than dilip in Kagaz ke phool. Sanjeev kumar has done great tragedy in Sholay.

    I am not a big fan of RAJ KAPOOR, but 2 of his performances, in Awara(TIME MAGAZINE rated it as one of top-10 performances of all times) & Jagte raho, no dilip kumar could ever match that calibre. Even though RAJ KAPOOR was primarily a producer and produced films all his life, irrespective of whether he acted, he has such performances, which dilip doesn’t have.

    okay, dilip has DEVDAS(1955), which could be cosidered his ultimate film. but here also, this can’t be counted as one of indian cinema’s greatest acting potrayals. In the original version of DEVAS in 1935, a masterpiece by P C BARUA, K L Saigal did a far greater job than dilip kumar. if you see this 1935 original hindi version you would easily forget 1955′s version[what a shame, that only place were this 1935 vesion is, is in NFAI] . Even if K L Saigal won’t be counted as one of indian cinema’s greatest actors, he did GREAT ACTING in devdas & gave india it’s 1st cult figure “DEVDAS”. Though theatrical acting and Larger-than life acting was in vogue then (in 1930′s), saigal did a great job,. Dilip Kumar was neither able to match that performance nor popularity in his time.

    Citing so many examples and lengthening my article does not make me happy too, but your statement to call him an inspiration for an entire generation is what displeases me. To be called one of the greatest actors of hindi cinema, you should have a certain number of great prerformances in the history of your cinema,in which no one could compete you. If others could do much better job than yourself , then you would no longer be considered as the ultimate. Unfortunely DILIP KUMAR does not satisfy the conditions to be called as one who

    “represented for an entire generation the ‘ultimate’ in acting”

    What do you think??????????????

    Like

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