Subhash Ghai Recalls Memories With Dilip Kumar On His Third Death Anniversary: 'I Stayed With Him For 20 Years And That Changed My Whole Life' - Exclusive

It's Dilip Kumar's third death anniversary today. The late legendary actor continues to have impacted many people's lives - not just his audience but those who he worked with. Film-maker Subhash Ghai speaks to ETimes and cherishes some memories with the actor on his death anniversary. Excerpts:

Tell us about your association with Dilip Kumar and the way you think of him?

I have done three films with Dilip Kumar. The lessons I learned from him were that you have to be a good human being, a good professional, and a good family man. So, the less I say about Mr. Dilip Kumar, the better it is. Because he was not only an institution of acting, but several stars were inspired by his acting. I stayed with him for 20 years, practically. And that changed my whole life.

What was that one thing that may change your life about when you interacted with him?

In the beginning, I was funny, and short-tempered, making errors and mistakes. When I directed him, I took myself seriously as the captain of the ship. I worked with him on three films. The first was Vidhata. When I signed the film, many people from the film industry told me that he would take over the picture as a writer-director-editor and that I would have no identity as a director.

So, one day when I started narrating in the script, he liked the script. He said, “Let's go to Khandala to discuss more”. So, I went with him, but I had the same thing in my mind that the people had told me, that he would take over the picture as a director. So, the first thing when we sat in the evening, I asked him, “Sir, I have grown up seeing your performances. I want to ask you one thing. I have some apprehensions today. Before we start discussing the film, making a film. Will you direct or I will direct?”

Go on...

He started smiling. And after a pause, he said, “You will direct the film”. I said, “Because so many people have told me that you take over the script and direction. When an actor becomes a star, then he becomes a superstar. So, he gets scared, whether he is being presented rightly or wrongly. So, I can understand the reason. But here, I'm a person who really works very hard in every department. I just don't come on the set and shoot and go back. I breathe and live with it.” He said, “No, you will direct”. And trust me, in the whole of my first film, he never, never, never asked me why this, how. He wasn't an obedient actor for me. And you can see his performance.

What else have you learnt from him?

In the Second film, Karma, I learnt from him how you appreciate others. I remember when I cast Anupam Kher as Dr. Dang, when he had just one film seen, Saaransh. I was shooting the first shot with Dilip Kumar and Anupam Kher in the jail when he's leading and Dilip Kumar was behind. Anupam Kher was nervous because he was a big fan of Dilip Kumar.

But after completing the shoot, he patted Anupam Kher. Dilip Saab told me, “You have got a winner because he is the right actor for the role of Dr. Dang, and he's a good actor”. In one shot, when we are not speaking lines or something. So, I told Anupam about it. Dilip Saab was praising you as an actor when you were just walking. So how to complement others? That I learned from Dilip Saab.

What memories do you recall from 'Saudaagar'?

The third film I directed him in was Saudaagar. After signing, Dilip Kumar and Raajkumar, I asked Dilip Saab, “Sir, people are saying that this is going to be a difficult film for me because it will take a longer time”. So, he smiled again and he looked at me. He said, “Subhash, you are a capable director. You direct your own film. We are just two actors. And if at all, he (Raajkumar) does nakhra, scold me in front of him. No problem.” And I started laughing. He said, “But you make a good film. That's important.”

So, when the shot would be ready, I would say, “Dilip Saab, chaliye aaiye, get on your mark.” So, immediately Raajkumar would follow. It was a wonderful experience for me. And you see, I wish we could have more stars who are a great talent, as well as a great human being, as well as a very compatible co-artist. And men of understanding in-depth, and well-spoken. So, whenever I'm in a crisis, I think of him and I can solve it.

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