Dilip Kumar: King of all times
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After Mughal-e-Azam, the epic romance, a timeless classic that you starred in, historicals have been few and far between —Umrao Jaan and Jodhaa Akbar among the notable ones. Do you think they were able to match up to the grandeur of Mughal-e-Azam?
I watched Jodhaa Akbar and liked it immensely for the sensitive treatment it received from the director, as well as for the authentic ambience the art director created for the unfolding of a little known story from the Moghul period of our history. The script and screenplay also had strength and substance, especially in establishing the contributions of Emperor Akbar as the founder of secular India, and as a man who believed in being honest to his conscience.
What makes for lasting cinema?
Cinema has always had something of the art of magic in its ability to enthrall and captivate the audience. Dadasaheb found the stories in Indian mythology ideal for his films, because they were replete with captivating situations and magical moments and, above all, they conveyed the message of the victory of good over evil. From his time to this day, the backbone of a film is the story and a director's skill in telling the story imaginatively, sensitively and engagingly. However technologically advanced the medium may become in the years to come, Indian cinema audiences are happy only when they have sat through an absorbing narrative and applauded the subduing of the bad fellow by the good, honest, upright fellow, who loves his mother and his motherland equally.
Cinema has always been a writer's and director's medium, and as such its rejuvenation can only be brought about by the continuous inflow of writers and directors, who are aware of and alive to the rhythm of life around them. Each decade in cinema's history has been noted for the changes that came about in content, acting styles, music compositions, choreography, cinematography etc. That was possible because of new entrants in the medium, and their boldness in changing what had become passé. I have not watched many films in recent years, but the few that I have seen are sufficient indication that the focus is now more on the international market, and keeping up with the technical superiority and surface gloss of foreign products is more important than anything else. I can see that the youth segment in India is being wooed by film-maker, who are themselves youthful and daring. It is as it should be. The decades to come will be equally full of surprises and changes, which must be welcomed and encouraged.