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When Dilip Kumar's Father Slapped Him!

Bollywood legend Dilip Kumar passed away on July 7, 2021. A new book 'Dilip Kumar: In the Shadow of a Legend' by Faisal Farooqui was released on the actor's first death anniversary.

Dilip Kumar
Dilip Kumar Wikipedia

Dilip Kumar's father was no fan of the arts so much so that he slapped his son after seeing him on his first film's posters and almost threw him out of the house, says a new book on the legendary actor who passed away on this day (July 7) last year.

In 'Dilip Kumar: In the Shadow of a Legend', MouthShut.com founder and CEO of review and rating platform Faisal Farooqui through informal conversations and witty exchanges, tries to capture the private side of the man who ruled the Hindi cinema world for years.

"I've tried to portray his love for others, his childhood, his stubborn nature and his need to do good for the underprivileged," the author, who knew Kumar for over 30 years, says.

In one of the anecdotes, Farooqui cites Kumar's debut film 'Jwar Bhata' of 1944. Kumar was then known by his original name Yusuf Khan. The film's promotional poster read: 'Jwar Bhata. Starring Dilip Kumar'.

Kumar's father Lala Ghulam Sarwar Khan was returning home one day with his good friend and Raj Kapoor's grandfather Dewan Basheswarnath Kapoor when they spotted one of these posters.

He could not believe his eyes and wanted to hear about this from his son. When Kumar went to meet him after reaching home, his father told him: "Something strange happened today. I am a bit worried."

Kumar, clueless about why his father was so serious, tried to meet his gaze.

After another brief moment of silence, his father continued, "I was with Lala on the tonga, and on the way, I saw a film poster."

Kumar felt his shoulders tense up and his hands clench behind his back. He was so sure they wouldn't find out about his little secret.

"There was some boy named Dilip Kumar on the poster. I swear by Allah, he looked exactly like you," Khan said, adding, "Was that you on that poster?"

Kumar couldn't move, couldn't look at his father, and couldn't find the voice to answer him.

"Answer me. Isn't that you on that poster," his father asked again.

Kumar finally looked at his father and in a quiet voice, said "yes".

"What followed was a loud crack that sent Yusuf's head spinning. The next thing he knew, he was on the floor, his palm on his cheek, rubbing the unmistakable sting of a slap," the book says.

"Get out of this house!" his father ordered Kumar.

"It was the first time Aghaji had raised his hand on me," the book quotes Kumar as saying. "I had never seen him angrier. If it wasn't for Amma and Sakina Aapa, he would've kicked me out of the house that day."

Khan didn't watch his son's movies for the first two years. Despite living under one roof, they would avoid each other as much as possible. Eventually though, Khan warmed up to his son upon the intervention of a dear family friend, Professor Dar of Ismail Yusuf College, the book says.

Kumar himself had never dreamt of becoming an actor, it adds.

"Neither had I imagined a career in films, nor was I a fan of any movie star. I would see my mother and father struggle every day to put food on the table. Amma would save whatever little money my father got home.

"Despite her frail health, she would scurry from one room to the other, cook food, get the children ready for school, manage the home. When I was offered an in-hand salary of Rs 1,200 a month, I had to take it," the book quotes him as saying.

When Kumar had gone to Devika Rani for the job, he was expecting a desk job, with a pay somewhere around Rs 200-300.

"Maybe Rs 350 a month if I got lucky. I was shocked at the offer they gave me. And humbled at the salary," Kumar told the author.

"At a meeting at Bombay Talkies, Rani offered Yusuf Khan a chance to select a stage name for himself. The options given were: Vasudev, Jahangir Khan and Dilip Kumar. Yusuf required a stage name only because he didn't want his father to find out about his acting career, so he told the production house that he was all right with any of the names suggested," the book says.

The author says the decision to write this book was not an easy one.

"Dilip Kumar, Dilip Sahab or simply Sahab, as all of us would address him, narrated an autobiographical account between 2004 and 2006. After that he stopped dictating and the manuscript which Udaya Tara Nayar completed was put on hold. Finally, the task of finalizing a publisher was assigned to me and in June 2014, the autobiography was released," he says.

But friends and family complained that there was so much to Kumar than what was written in the autobiography and thus the idea of this book came to Farooqui.

The book is published by Om Books International.

[With Inputs From PTI]

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