Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thought on Maharashtra

Wednesday evening was a different experience. Received an award from the President of India, Mrs Pratibha Patil. The award rated me as the best Maharashtrian of the year-Lifetime Achievement. On my way home, I thought over it and yes...

In more ways than one it is Maharashtra that holds the roots of my life and career. I had my schooling at Barnes School in Deolali, Nashik, as a day scholar. The moderate climate, especially the cool summers attracted my parents to stay in Deolali since my mother was ailing with asthma. Years later, after I became known as actor Dilip Kumar, I revisited Deolali in the course of my search all over Nashik District for an ideal location to film Ganga Jamuna’s outdoor scenes.

People came to greet me wherever we stopped and were surprised and happy to converse with me in Marathi. It was exhilarating to travel all over Nashik by road taking in the natural majesty of  the Sahyadri range. My brother Nasir and friend Mukri were with me and we enjoyed the small meals we tucked away at wayside eateries. Hot usal served with crushed papdis and ghati sev, poha, puris with potato bhaji garnished with green, finely cut coriander, jhunka with hot bakri....Maharashtra’s cuisine has its own identity. It titillates the taste buds but is never heavy in the tummy. Our cook of almost four decades is a Maharashtrian, Narmada who has hooked us completely to puran polis, batata vadas, kanta poha etc forever.

One place I can never resist is Pune. I lived and worked in Pune (then Poona) for two years and earned my first “big” money there. I know every street and road in Pune city.  One of my wishes  was to build a house and live in Lonavala, enjoy the convenience of driving to Pune or Nashik whenever I desired and invite friends to spend weekends with me.  


Monday, December 19, 2011

On My Ancestral House and Childhood

The news that the house where I was born (1922) and where I spent a good part of my childhood in Peshawar’s Qissa Khwani Bazaar, then in Undivided India, will be given the honour of being a part of the national heritage of Pakistan has sent my mind racing back to memories of happy days spent in the spacious home and its surroundings. This morning many of you asked me to blog about it.

I am at once full of fond remembrances of my parents, grandparents and numerous uncles, aunts and cousins who filled the house with the sounds of their chatter and hearty laughter. My mother who was frail and delicate was always in the spacious kitchen of the house and as a little boy I would wait for her to finish her chores so that I could just sit by her side and gaze at her beautiful face.

I have memories of the sitting room where the family gathered for high tea in the evenings, the large room where the ladies prayed, the terrace, the bedrooms, everything. I can vividly recall the piggy rides on my grandfather’s back and the scary stories my grandmother cooked up to forbid me from wandering out of the house alone.

I have lovely memories of Qissa Khwani Bazaar, where I received my first lessons in story telling, which later provided the impetus to choose meaty stories and scripts for my work. Every day as the trading closed in the market of Qissa Khwani Bazaar, a story teller would sit in the centre of the square narrating stories of valour and victory, deceit and retribution which I would listen to with wide- eyed attention, seated next to my father and uncles.  It is all there in my autobiography which, Inshallah, will be released shortly.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Amitabh and my admiration

My Dear Amitabh:

With tears of pride in her eyes Saira handed over the print out of your eloquent tribute to my work in your blog. I read it once, then again and again.

As you yourself would be keenly aware, we actors are completely oblivious of ourselves and our surroundings while we perform and, even when we watch our work in the rushes shown to us, our senses and vision are trained to detect shortcomings more than accomplishments. That’s the only way we know to improve and render performances that come close to our own satisfaction. And it is always the audience who have the absolute right to acclaim or reject our work, however hard we may have worked to achieve perfection and excellence.

I am certainly privileged to know from your affectionate compliments that someone as knowledgeable and competent as you has liked my work. Yes, now that you have reminded me, I can recall the scenes that brought us together before the cameras for Shakti. I should say the respect and admiration are mutual. Not just Shakti, your work in several films I have watched has been world class and inimitable. In recent times I can remember Black and, if I remember right, Saira and I were at a loss for words at the premiere night, after the curtain came down, to express our myriad feelings of admiration for your outstanding performance. It is a pity the film missed the Oscar nomination. If any Indian actor, in my personal opinion, deserves the world’s most coveted award, it is you. I have heard so much about Paa which we didn’t catch up with.  You know how Saira is—she never could see me die in my films and she could not muster the courage to see your death scene in Paa.

Thank you, Amitabh, for your warm love and good wishes. May God keep you, Jaya and your family happy always.