The Tragedy King

With his vocal and visual supremacy on the silver screen, we became captive of his intense voice- quality, he could deliver volumes of emotions with a single whisper
The Tragedy King

When a shy 22-year old son of a Pathan fruit merchant was selected by the diva of Indian cinema, Devika Rani, to star in her Bombay Talkie’s production Jawar Bhatta, it led to a small change of name for the young man. Yusuf Khan became Dilip Kumar,” the gift-edged star of all times to come. Excellence in any field needs extreme merit and zest for hard work and dedication, virtue and capability when matched with commitment result in fine meritorious legends like Dilip Kumar, they remain high on pedestal, second to none.

With pearl buttons on a white lace and satin outfit, Akhter K. Asif, Dilip Kumar’s sister looked stunningly luxurious. It was my first meeting with her, she had come to stay in our house for eight weeks, and the stay was endorsed by my mentor Mrs. Suraiya Ali, equally an ardent fan of the iconic romantic hero Dilip Kumar. Akhter’s husband K. Asif had died at a young age leaving her with two adorable daughters, Hanifa and Tabeer, and an incomplete movie Mohabbat Aur Khuda. She was desperate to fulfill Asif’s dream and had decided to release it in the same form after a few weeks. She was in a bad state of affairs, would remain uncomfortable, pressing Dilip Kumar hard on phone to join her in Srinagar. Their conversation would last for hours, making it difficult for my dignity to curb the desire to overhear the whispers from the other end.

We were a generation, fed on tragic movies with somber themes and supper sufferings; miseries experienced by women; catastrophic disappearances; separation and reunion, and adjustment problems and poverty. We would shed tears in abundance in cinema halls; with sobbing Meena Kumari caught in a love triangle, feel burdened with Nanda’s wounded self-esteem, be ready to cut a limb or two with Sadhna’s heart- rendering emotional fit, go ahead and walk gracefully with Nimmi to alter as a sacrificial goat for common good and forgiveness of sin, and we were too simple to fall in love with a single hero, Dilip Kumar, the one and only prince charming saddling a white horse in woods or challenging his father’s absolutism in his power corridors to save his beloved. With his vocal and visual supremacy on the silver screen, we became captive of his intense voice- quality, he could deliver volumes of emotions with a single whisper. His tragic sighs measured high on an emotional scale, with enough power he would make his audience restless in their seats with pain- transformation. The enchanting impact would remain and compel to watch the movies repeatedly. Mughal e Azam was initially released a few years before we started our college. Every repeat run would make us uneasy with same impact as a fresh blockbuster, we would bunk classes and land in nearby cinema halls. The dream world, at first was created by Imitiyaz Ali Taj’s famous drama, “Anarkali” in our Urdu literature classes and was personified by K. Asif with his genius perfection. Dilip with his magnificence created history on silver screen, royalty confrontation with his own blood, the eternal haunting love scenes, glorious happy moments, the heartbreaking tragic incidents, all would look real with the swanky performance of the great performer. He was a hero of multiple tragedies, he knew all shades of sadness, and wearing the colors of suffering and pain became vulnerable, “The tragedy king was getting into the marrow of my bones and disturbing my personal peace…. That is when I used to go to England to consult drama coaches and psychiatrist.

The one reason behind having Akhter with us was to have a glimpse of the great hero of all times. Akhter Asif, with her powerful and commanding personality would talk with high pride about K. Asif’s decent roots, and rich family background, discussing Saira and her family, her expression would change and the conversation ends in bad taste, Dilip Kumar, in a grape sense had not completely forgiven Akhter and Asif for eloping and breaching his trust, wounds had gone but bruises remained. Akhter would often share sensitive personal family issues, likes and dislikes of Dilip Kumar, and once she told me that Dilip Sahab liked Kashmir and its lovable people immensely, and at one stage of time he seriously wanted to buy a house, had explored some cottage- type bungalow around Mughal Gardens and wanted to spend his life after retirement in that cottage with Saira Banu

The thespian never arrived, frustrated and upset, Akhter packed her bags and left for Bombay, making us sad for losing the chance to see him but as luck had it soon we were invited to a wedding where Dilip Kuman, Naseem Banu, and Saira Banu were guests of honor. Sitting together with a shoulder to shoulder touch we had wazwan and Kehwa together. Naseem Banu stole the show, the original beauty queen looked stunning even at her ripe age. Saira in her blue and gold dress with long dangling earrings was alluring, like a classic piece of fine art. She had an angelic innocence on her face, thin and delicate she looked prettier than her image on the screne. Soon we saw Dilip Sahab appearing at the door, he looked larger than his image, in fact large beyond life, he addressed Saira and said,” Begum chalna nahi hai kya?” same voice quality, that would turn his audience melancholic, his presence made the atmosphere amazingly cheerful, the charismatic that made everything melodious.

With his death, the charisma of his presence is gone forever.

When great souls die and

our reality, bound to

them, takes leave of us

our souls dependent upon their


now shrink, wizened.

Our minds formed

And informed by their

Radiance, fall away.

We are not so much maddened

as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of

dark, cold


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Greater Kashmir