Thursday, September 23

Nostalgia rules as city remembers its five-decade-old ties with Sagina

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 His friendship with Tapan Sinha was legendary. His respect for Chhabi Biswas, Pahari Sanyal, Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen is still talked about. His empathy for the 1978 flood victims of Bengal that had led him to captain a team of Bollywood actors in a charity cricket match at Eden Gardens in 1979 opposite Uttam Kumar’s team, where he scored 54, remains an example. His penchant for watching Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, and Mohammedan Sporting matches at the Rovers Cup and his love for Chuni Goswami are still cherished by football fans. These are few of the reasons why Dilip Kumar’s death marked the end of an era for his admirers in Bengal.
In a tweet, chief minister Mamata Banerjee wrote: “Crestfallen at the passing of a beacon in cinema… His inimitable style of acting will remain engraved among film lovers for generations.” Thanks to his early association with Ashok Kumar, Bimal Roy and Nitin Bose, Kumar had developed a soft corner for the Bengali language.
The quaint tracks in front of the railway workshop in Teendharia remind many of how India cinema’s ‘Tragedy King’ had shed his stardom to shoot there for Sinha’s ‘Sagina Mahato’ (1970), based on a story by Gour Kishore Ghosh. The Hindi version was remade with the same cast as ‘Sagina’ (1974).

“Baba and he shared a deep intellectual friendship. He would read out translations of Tagore’s poetry to Yusuf bhai while he would recite Urdu shairi for him. He was the first choice for playing Sagina. Baba liked the fact that he could keep aside his stardom and get deeply into a character,” said Sinha’s son, Anindya, who was 10 years old when he accompanied the unit during the film’s shooting in Gayabari and Kurseong. So involved was Kumar that for one scene he suggested running after a speeding train in the rain. Sinha had wanted to use a body double but Kumar shot it himself and got it right in one take. Interestingly, Kumar had spotted actor Kader Khan during that shooting. He had requested Sinha to cast Khan in ‘Sagina’.

Singer Anup Ghoshal recollects how Sinha had wanted Kumar to sing ‘Chhoti Si Panchhi’. “But Dilip Kumar loved my scratch and asked it to be retained,” Ghoshal remembered.
Kumar was first spotted in 1932 by Bengali actress Devika Rani. His debut in Amiya Chakravarty’s ‘Jwar Bhata’ (1944) also marked Ruma Guha Thakurta’s acting debut.

Before shooting Nitin Bose’s adaptation of Tagore’s Naukadubi for ‘Milan’, Kumar read the novel’s translation. When he wrote the script of ‘Ganga Jamuma’, he got Bose to direct it. Later, he attended its premiere at Basusree. Bimal Roy’s ‘Devdas’ (1955) opposite Suchitra Sen remains a high point of his career. Then came Roy’s ‘Madhumati’ (1958) that was co-written by Ritwik Ghatak. Kolkata loved the way he dubbed for his Bengali film debut in Jaganath Chattopadhyay’s ‘Paari’ (1966).

On Wednesday, photographs of Kumar with actors at Eden Gardens and his film premieres surfaced across timelines. Many fondly revisited Kumar’s Bengal connection that they wish to cherish forever.

Source: Times of India

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