Many can act. But it falls on the shoulders of a few to become legends. Such is the prowess of their aptitude that they go on to become an institution in acting. Their rich legacy goes on to define an era in cinema.
It is one such institution that the world lost today in the form of Dilip Kumar. There is little that is left unsaid in the gamut of roles that he played over his career spanning more than half a century. From the swashbuckling leader in Aan (1952) to the repentant dacoit in Ganga Jumna (1961) and leaving us in splits in Ram Aur Shyam (1967), Dilip Sahab has donned myriad hats.
However, when one mentions Dilip Kumar, the one role that stands out distinctly in memory is that of the lovelorn Prince Salim in the epic historical Mughal-E-Azam (1960). Directed by K Asif, the role of Prince Salim was a total departure from any of the roles that Dilip Sahab had essayed before that.
The magnum opus stars Madhubala as Nadira a.k.a Anarkali and Prithviraj Kapoor as Emperor Akbar in the lead roles besides Dilip Kumar.
The chemistry between the lead pair is sizzling to say the very least. The couple was very much in love in real life when the shooting started, and then things soured badly between them during the long production of the classic. They fell out halfway through the shooting, and when one of the most sensuous moments in Hindi cinema was shot, they had stopped speaking to each other. Hard to believe, right?
“…halfway through the production of Mughal-E-Azam, we were not even talking to each other. The classic scene with the feather coming between our lips, which set a million imaginations on fire, was shot when we had completely stopped even greeting each other,” Dilip Kumar wrote in his autobiography Dilip Kumar: The Substance And The Shadow.
The professionalism is laudable. Never once will you get even a whiff of the acrimony between them when you watch the film. Prithviraj Kapoor aces the role as the authoritarian emperor, who puts duty above his beloved and cherished son and eventually as a kind-hearted human who remembers his long due promise to Nadira’s mother in the end.
And what to say of the music composed by Naushad? Be it the classic thumri 'Prem Jogan Ban Key' that featured the famous feather scene, or the song that went to define the movie — 'Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya', Naushad worked his magic like never before. In fact, the director (K Asif) and the music director (Naushad) are said to have roped in Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan at a whopping price of Rs 25,000 per song. And then the Ustad sang two songs after much cajoling — 'Prem Jogan Ban Key' and 'Shubh Din Aayo'. To put the exorbitant price in perspective, mainstream playback singers like Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar used to be paid Rs 500 per song in those days.
Lata Mangeshkar, as you know, sang 'Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya', composed by Naushad and written by Shakeel Badayuni.
Dilip Sahab’s portrayal of the lovelorn prince stands a testament to his acting skills. It speaks volumes about the actor who went on to be identified as the ‘Tragedy King of Hindi cinema’.
Watch Mughal-E-Azam (again!) on ZEE5 or Jio Cinema, as you remember and mourn Dilip Kumar today.