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“We Will  Do Another Movie Together  Up There,” Rarest  Of Rare The Reclusive Legend Vyjanthimala  Speaks On Dilip Kumar



Dilip kumar and vijayanti mala

We  love Dilip Kumar to  death. We love him with  all his favourite heroines  from Nalini  Jaywant(whom  he once told  me was his most challenging co-star) and  Nargis  to  Waheeda Rehman and Saira  Banu. But to me.Dilip Saab was at his best with the electrifying Vyjanthimala.

 “It’s good  of you to say that ,” the still-mellifluent  and warm voice  on  the phone  responds  to  my compliments when I catch  up with Vyjanthimalaji  in Chennai through her one  and  only devoted  son  Suchindra  Bali.

Recalling her  magical  pairing  with  Dilip Kumar,  Vyjanthimalaji says, “We did some  good work together. Dilip Kumar  was   such a joy to work with. He  always had something  extra  to contribute to every scene. His understanding of  the  film medium was   unbelievable. I learnt  a  lot from  working with him. Why only me? I think we all did.All the  co-actors who had the privilege of working with  him.”

The  iconic actress laments  the  passing  away of  a co-star  who according to her  epitomized the spirit of renaissance. “He  could  hold forth on  any topic with equal authority. I first  got to work with him in Bimal  Roy’s Devdas  where  I played Chandramukhi. Our pair was liked by the audience. I was then cast with him  in B R Chopra’s Naya DaurMadhubala was supposed to do the  film with  Dilip Kumar. I don’t know what happened. But I was  offered the  film . I loved my  part. I agreed.”

Vyjanthimalaji who worked in  6 films with  Dilip  Kumar singles  out Ganga Jumna as  her favourite. “It  was  a  challenge. Here  I was, this Tamil actress who  could speak Hindi   without any accent after  much training and tutoring.  In Ganga Jumna I was  expected  to speak the Awadhi dialect , and that  too without  any accent.”

She received  tremendous support  from her  erudite  co-star. “Dilip Saab would  record the dialogues on tape  and send  them to me to rehearse and prepare. When we shot for the  film, the words  just flowed  effortlessly. I think our onscreen  chemistry was always  special.  But in Ganga Jumna it  was  extra-special.”

 The Sungharsh  actress, now  84, continues to share  a warm  bonding with Mrs Dilip Kumar. “Saira has always been fond of me. She calls  me Akka, which is elder  sister in Tamil.Whenever I visit Mumbai she  sends her car to the airport and  I made sure I  visited their residence. Saira always said I shared the  best screen chemistry with Dilip Saab… I don’t know how to face her after this(Dilip Saab’s demise). She  was  such an exemplary wife, so  unconditionally devoted  to Dilip Saab. I must say he  was  very fortunate  to have her.”

Vyjanthimalaji  says she has the  fondest memories  of  the  time spent  on the sets  with  Dilip Kumar.

“We will do another film together  up there soon,” she chuckles  .When I remind her  that we need here  down here with us  she  replies,  “That’s very  sweet  of you.  But don’t  forget, I am getting old now.”

Vyjanthimala who stays in Chennai with her son,his wife and  two daughters, hopes to visit Saira Banu soon. “At the moment this Covid situation has me confined  to my home for  the past  one-and-a-half years. I have not stepped  out at all.I do my dance practice at home.”

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