It was three weeks shy of Kumkum’s first death anniversary. I had already thought about that and about how I and several of my fellow and sister bloggers had rushed to post our tributes last year because we all loved Kumkum. I was watching a bunch of dances – including some from Kumkum – and I even entertained the idea of doing a First D.A. tribute to Kumkum to follow up on my tribute from last year. And then I saw The News…
Wow. Now, I can’t say that the death of Dilip Kumar was all that surprising . . . I had already read news about his health sinking again in the past month or two and had already seen rumors of his death. He was 98 years old and his health had been notoriously bad for quite a long time – and we’d seen a few other batches of death rumors too. But for any fan of classic Hindi films, this news still had to be sad as well as jarring. A truly great one is gone.
I have seen many films starring Dilip Kumar. Among the classic actors in Hindi films, I have probably seen more starring him than anyone else. It makes sense, though, because probably no male Hindi film actor was more in demand than Dilip even – or especially – during the Golden Age.
Now, to be quite honest, if asked to pick my favorite male Golden Age actor in terms of the screen persona that he most often presented, I don’t know if I would pick Dilip Kumar. Probably, I would choose another Kumar, named Ashok. But Ashok Kumar has been gone for almost 20 years. In addition, Dilip Kumar might actually be the most skilled among all the actors, as many people assert. And he’s probably been more in the public eye in recent memory simply because he outlived all the other famous men. Recognizing all this, I should consider it my responsibility in this particular corner of the blogging world to write a full and thoughtful tribute to him. But, no, I’m afraid I’m not up to it. Fortunately, quite a few other bloggers have done very well at that. Not surprisingly, I see good posts from Madhu at Dustedoff, Anu at Conversations Over Chai, Karan Bali at Upperstall . . . And there are many, many more. Do a search and you’ll find so many Dilip Kumar tributes, you won’t be able to read them all. And for that, I am grateful. Thank you to all of you!
Meanwhile, yesterday, since I had been thinking of both Dilip Kumar and Kumkum, I had to do the most obvious thing that came to mind: I watched Kohinoor again.
I don’t watch films multiple times all that often, but Kohinoor definitely deserved a second viewing, especially since it had been so many years since I watched it all the way through. I’ve watched the songs – and especially the dances – countless times, but not the whole film. I don’t think I had watched the whole film since the time when I reviewed it on this blog, more than twelve years ago! (Wow, is it really that long? Yes it is. You can see the review here.)
In light of the time that had passed, I thought that I might write a new review, but when I reread the old one, I decided that it summed up the film pretty well. If there is any difference in my opinion upon viewing it the second time around, it’s that I love the film even more. With the second viewing, I was able to notice additional little touches in the performances of all these great actors that I hadn’t noticed before. What a great cast this was! And, by the way, though I have been emphasizing Kumkum’s role, I don’t want to understate Meena Kumari, who did a terrific job, as always. I think that Kumkum’s character was more interesting – from my perspective – and if I were Dilip’s character in this film, faced with those two sides of the triangle (poor fellow), I would have chosen Kumkum’s character – definitely. (Isn’t it great how movies can sometimes inspire the nicest personal fantasies?) But that doesn’t mean that Meena wasn’t great in this film.
Of course, the world lost Meena Kumari in a very tragic way a very long time ago. And now, I guess that every major actor in Kohinoor is gone. We haven’t yet lost everyone from the Golden Age. For instance, among those still standing, we still have Dilip Kumar’s first famous love in the film industry, Kamini Kaushal, now age 94. (Although I have read that she is not in the best of health and maybe I should not even be writing that line, if you know what I mean.) But with the death of someone as significant as Dilip Kumar, it’s understandable to agree with the already widely circulated declaration from Amitabh Bachchan that “an epic era has drawn curtains.”