Dilip Kumar: King of all times
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Tell us about your favourite leading ladies and whether there were more (to them) than beauty.
I had much respect for the inherent talent of Nalini Jaywant. She was the most spontaneous actress I have worked with. Madhubala combined well with me, and so did Meena Kumari and Vyjayantimala. I also liked the supreme confidence of Leela Mishra, who played mother to Shyam in Ram aur Shyam.
What is your idea of beauty? Who, besides Sairaji, according to you exemplifies perfect beauty?
Yes, Saira is a beauty but she believes her mother Naseemji was much more beautiful and I will not dispute that, the good husband that I am.
Tell us about your impression of Sairaji as an actress. Is there anyone from the present generation to draw a parallel to her gamine charm?
Saira is basically a hard working person, who takes pains to achieve flawlessness in everything she does. She was observant and alert when she worked with me in Sagina and Gopi. I was pleasantly surprised by her competence in enacting the role of the tribal girl with a wild cat personality in Sagina considering how refined and elegant she is in reality. Soon after our marriage, her film Sagina was shown to me and I realised it would not be sensible on her part to abort her career at that stage, when she was blossoming into a fine, vivacious artiste. Many of her films thereafter revealed that I was right.
Noted writer lyricist Javed Akhtar has said of you, that you were the first method actor from India long before Hollywood actors —would you agree? Also, how was your method different from that of your contemporaries — Raj and Dev Sa'ab as such?
I can't figure out how I came to be identified as a method actor. If penetrating the very marrow of a subject and character, and rendering it with the determination of a gardener, who trims a hedge into a thing of beauty by trimming the useless leaves and branches and twigs, and putting his full consciousness into that which counts in his work is called method acting, then so be it. The difference between Raj, Dev and Dilip Kumar was only in the story material; we chose keeping our individual capabilities in mind. The dedication, effort and pursuit of faultlessness were the same, I would say.