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Waheeda Rehman On Dilip Kumar: “He Was So Great, I  Was So Small In Front Of Him”

“Is  this  news  correct?”  the iconic Waheeda Rehman asks me suspiciously when I call her for her  thoughts on the  passing of India’s greatest actor.

I reassure her  it is indeed true . And since she had  done so many memorable films with him, who better  qualified to comment on him?
“Not so  many,” Waheedaji corrects me in her no-nonsense  voice. “We did just  4 films  together and  unfortunately only one of them Ram Aur Shyam did well.”

Agreed, I  conceded,  but  the other three film they did together –Dil Diya Dard Liya,Aadmi and Mashaal  are all important powerful films with  outstanding performances by both.

Aapne  sahi kaha,” Waheedaji conecedes . “These were important  films. And  I had a  wonderful experience  working with  Dilip Saab  in these films. He  was such a great  artiste. I was so small  in front of him. But he  never made me feel small. He  was  the master  in front of the camera. He would quietly tell me  how to do some of my scenes. I learnt  so   much  from him . I wish we  had done more  films together.”

What were  Waheedaji’s  takeaways  from  Dilip Saab’s performances? “His  complete surrender  to his characters. His  focused energy . Nothing could distract him from his  role.But  most of all, it was  intensity that  held audiences in a thrall. One  small twitch  of his  eye  could  convey more than a  thousand words. You  know, there are great actors who are  not stars.  Dilip Saab was  a rare  instance  of  a great actor who was also  a superstar. Audiences wept  and laughed with him. He could do  tragic  roles to perfection. But later on he  started  doing comedy with equal  ease.I enjoyed  working equally with him   in the dark Dil Diya Dard Liya as much as the  light  Ram Aur Shyam. Our sequence in Yash Chopra’s Mashaal , our last  film together  where he tries to stop a vehicle to take  me to the  hospital, is talked to this day. We  shot it on the  road in Fort (Mumbai) at midnight.”

Did they  socialize  when not working together?

Waheedaji replies in the negative. “No we  hardly  ever met outside the studio. I  don’t know  how it is among  actors   these days.  But in our time we didn’t meet  outside work. I did  the maximum  films with Dev Anand. But I  never  went to his  house.  My only co-star whom I  met socially was Sunil Dutt. And that  was because  I was very close to his  wife  Nargisji.  I had been to Dilip Saab’s place  only once to pay my respects to his  brother who had a heart attack.”

Waheedaji’s heart reaches  out to Dilip Saab’s wife Saira Banu. “She  was  a wonderful wife. She looked  after him  during his  illness in his last years.May God grant her the strength to endure the grief and  loneliness ahead.”

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