The country woke up to very sad news today with the passing of veteran actor Dilip Kumar at the age of 98. The actor had given some iconic performances throughout his career that spanned over five decades, including his stint as Prince Salim in India’s one of the greatest films, Mughal-e-Azam and his eponymous portrayal in Bimal Roy’s Devdas.
In 1986, Dilip Kumar appeared in Subhash Ghai’s Karma opposite a young brigade composed of actors like Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff and Poonam Dhillon, and the actress still remembers him fondly. “I feel grateful to have had the privilege of working with one of the greatest actors of our time. We were all in awe of him during the shoot of Karma but he made us all very comfortable. He was so charming and witty. I remember my chats with him and sometimes arguing with him over the lingo. He was this larger-than-life presence in the midst of us kids at that time. He was so grateful and dignified yet not one of those who would sit aloof. He would be fun and participate in our chats,” she recalls.
Poonam iterates that hearing DIlip sahab talk was magical. “I loved hearing him talk because his way of talking, language and his andaz of speaking was so amazing. He was probably one of the most proficient persons in Urdu, English or Hindi, whichever language he spoke. He would often speak to me in Punjabi since it was my mother tongue. We had a super time during our outdoor shoot. He was very conducive in getting to know his co-stars and chatting with them, unlike today when everyone stays in their make-up van. We would all sit on the set talking to each other with Subhash ji, Anil, Jackie and Naseer. It was a very fun unit and we would call him a part of our youngster brigade,” she smiles.
The actress goes on to assert that his hospitality extended beyond the film set as well. “Subsequently also, whenever we met in Mumbai, he was so affectionate. He would always put his hand on my head blessing me and treat me so warmly. The whole country knows how great of an actor he was, but he was an amazing person as well. I think he led a fabulous life and the persona he had will be remembered forever as one of the greatest actors we had,’ she states.
Ask Poonam how it was seeing him perform live, and she shares, “He never had that vibe that look at me, I am performing. He was so normal and down to earth. He was never playing to the gallery. He was extremely humble and I have worked with actors way lesser than him, who thought highly of themselves.”
Poonam goes on to recall her last memories with the thespian. “Last few years whenever I met him, he was in a wheelchair, though you never felt that he didn’t recognise you. He still had that smile and warmth within him and met you so nicely. Last coherent memory I have with him is when one of my friends website was being launched and he was there. We spent some time together chatting about our lives,” she concludes.
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