Shades of Dilip Kumar: The Gentleman in Milan (1946) and Cad in Arzoo (1950)

We as Indians are known for our love of cinema, but that love is superficial. We tend to talk while watching movies,we tend to watch our movies on mobile and do not even wait till end credits in theatre. There is a disturbing trend among teens in India, at least in the Metros I find them only watching movies which are discussed on social media. For them indie is Anurag Kashyap and they claim to hate mainstream Bollywood films, while turning up religiously for Hollywood actioners FDFS at IMAX venues.

Milan-Dilip KumarDilip Kumar is one of the greatest actors India has produced. Sadly there has not been enough discussion on his acting or even his films. This apathy is not relegated towards common audience, it includes film students who will go gaga over Marlon Brando, but will not share the same admiration for Dilip Kumar who was probably the World’s first method actor. Even Government of India has awarded him only the Padma Vibhushan this year, when he deserved the Bharat Ratna.

I was excited to attend the Dilip Kumar Film Festival, which was held recently at Liberty Cinema by Osianama.

Milan (1946) –

This was the first film which marked the famous collaboration between Nitin Bose and Dilip Kumar. The film is based on Rabindranath Tagore’s famous Novel Nauka Dubi.  Dilip Kumar plays a young lawyer Ramesh who is torn between his duty and love, as he plays a confused young man.

The screenplay adaptation of the novel is amateurish at its best, with the director resorting to a letter every now and then to move the story forward.

If you look at the character of Ramesh, it is a character who comes across as a coward and confused soul, but kudos to Dilip Kumar who brings the anguish and confusion of the young man effectively.

Arzoo (1950)-

Dilip Kumar has reportedly said that Nitin Bose has been instrumental in sharpening in his acting skills. Arzoo is a testimony to that fact. Arzoo is written by Ishmat Chugtai, she is credited for screenplay, dialogue and story. Shaheed Latif her husband is credited for direction, this was his second film after Ziddi which propelled Dev Anand’s career.

Arzoo has all the elements of a Bollywood love story, a man-child as the hero who is in love with a girl. A rich man who loves the same girl, destiny and tragic ending.

Arzoo-Dilip KumarWhile at first my mind was comparing how Lakshya seems to be inspired by Arzoo. Like there is a scene when the hero returns back without getting a job and later he joins the army. (While in Lakshya, Hrithik leaves training mid-way, only to get a cold shoulder and contempt from Preity Zinta).

Another scene from the film where Dilip Kumar has a conversation with God has found its way in Deewaar. Interestingly both Lakshya and Deewaar was written by Javed Akhtar, the latter he co-wrote with Salim.

Behold, the off repeated dialogue from Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai “We love only once” is a rehashed dialogue from Arzoo.

Like all good films, Arzoo has stayed with me, even after a week of watching it. Now that I have chance to recollect the scenes and put the film in the context of its period post-independent India, still reeling from trauma of partition.

I felt Kamini played by Kamini Kaushal represented undivided India or Indians who is torn between her love towards Badal (Dilip Kumar) who represenst India or Undivided India. If you observe Dilip Kumar you see that for most part of the film he wears traditional dress, while Kamini’s husband (Thakur) who is suave and modern represents Jinnah. While both of them want to have her, none of them have courage or compassion to understand her wish.

Coming back to Dilip Kumar, it a role which he seems to have enjoyed. Starting as man-child character, moving on to an army man, to an obsessive lover who is hell bent on creating havoc in his ex-lover’s life,he is simply a delight to watch, to pull of such a grey and antihero character in the 1950’s and create empathy for his character speaks a ton about his acting prowess.

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