The ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ (The Greatest Mughal) of Kashmiris is no more. Rarely has any other actor of the celluloid been so passionately, sentimentally and so personally loved by the people of Kashmir than him. Never has any other actor or performing artist endeared himself so closely to the people of Kashmir than Dilip Kumar.
The news of his death was received with shock even though it rekindled memories of the great old days of entertainment the outstanding actor has brought into the lives of millions all over the World.
It is surprising to note that the actor, who was known to the older generation of Kashmiris, has been the beloved of the local youth as well.
“He was a legend and the magic of the legends is timeless.
“I have watched the magnum opus, ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ and ‘Naya Daur’ in colour. These two movies have left an indelible mark on my mind. Does anyone need to belong to a certain generation to appreciate the talent of Dilip Kumar”, said Adnan, 24, a university student.
Kashmiris, who have watched Dilip Kumar’s movies in 1950s, 1960s and even some in 1970s continue to live in awe and reverence of this King of tragedy.
“I have watched ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ when it was screened for the first time in late 1950s in ‘Amresh’ cinema in Srinagar.
“People waited for more than 10 hours for the booking windows to open.
“By God, I have not found that movie in any way short of the phenomenal impact on the audience like the all time great Hollywood movie, the ‘Benhur’.
“His death has made all of us sad. He has been and will continue to remain a part of our cherished memory of the greatest days of cinema in Kashmir”, said Noor Muhammad, 74.
Despite being part of the black and white era, his later day movies like “Aan”, “Ganga Jamuna”, “Dil Diya Dard Liya”, “Leader”, “Ram aur Shayam”, “Gopi”, “Mashaal”, “Aadmi” and “Shakti” have not been received with any lesser fanfare than those of his golden black and white era.
“Deedar”, “Azad”, “Tarana”, “Dillagi”, “Babul”, “Arzoo”, “Naya Daur”, “Madhumati”, “Shaheed”, “Mela”, “Andaaz” and “Daag” have been household names in Kashmir of those days.
The impact of Dilip Kumar has been so widespread that despite all the cinema halls having remained closed in Kashmir due to violence for the last over 30 years, the news of his death has brought down curtains on the hearts and minds of the local people. As if they heard the sad news while seated inside a cinema hall watching his movie.
“It is high time the government rises to the occasion and confers the highest award on him so that the actor gets what he deserved many years back”, said Bashir Ahmad, 72.
There is hardly any local who does not mourn the death of the great star today.
His popularity can be judged from the fact that the moment the sad news reached the Valley, locals started calling each other to relive their younger days of romance and carefree living.
“The only entertainment we had those days was the cinema and the presence of the all-time great actors like Dilip Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Sham and Raj Kapoor made our day in our youth”, said Ghulam Nabi, 79.
With his passing away, an era of film watching and filmmaking has ended, but the impact left behind by his great performance has earned him a place in the hearts of Kashmiris that will perhaps not be matched by anyone else.
“It is not Saira Bano’s husband alone who has passed away today. It is a part of every Kashmiri’s loving heart that has died”, said Abdul Majid, 73.
With such phenomenal fan following, parental affection and grief with which his death has been received, let nobody say in future that Dilip Kumar died without leaving behind a daughter or a son, feel his ardent followers in the valley.