Before I begin my review I would like to clearly mention that I have been a great fan of Shammi Kapoor it doesn't mean I have not liked other legends from Bollywood. Dilip Kumar is no doubtably one of the THREE PILLARS of Indian Cinema which include Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. I have also been a huge admirer of all other stars also. About actresses though I didn't have any real favorites because I liked them all I think its only Saira Banu in the yesteryears and Sonali Bendre in my teenage years that made my heart skip a beat.
Now with the review...
The book is a true treasure of Dilip Kumar fans, especially those who haven't ever read or followed the vintage issues of magazines during his times. His wonderful memories from Peshawar including how a Fakir had predicted his future when he was a toddler. He talks about his struggle while growing up and his childhood friendship with Raj Kapoor that went on forever. He tells about his love for football and badminton and how he struggled to attend football matches after college days. To prove his independence or capability to his father, he narrates how he went to Pune and did a job at the military canteen. The book also tells about Dilip Kumar's love for reading and studying various subjects and ability to understand film making than his directors did.
The book gives detailed insights of how Dilip Kumar became a screen legend. He didn't have any previous actors except for a few like Ashok Kumar, Saigal and others. The Indian cinema was at its infant stage and the techniques were constantly changing. He probably was the first person who understood how body language mattered than the loud dialogue delivery due to avaibility of sound recording. He understood how closeups of facial expressions could express a dialogue (without actually delivering the dialogue verbally). Like any other autobiographies ever written, this one also seems biased in showing certain things and hiding certainthings. Its human to try to project oneself in the best way possible and try to forget bad things oneself and making others do that too. Everything in the biography seems believable apart from references about Madhubala or no-references at all about some women Dilip Kumar has been linked with. Strangely apart from his so-called first wife Asma no other serious allegations faced by him are mentioned in the book.
Many times there are irrelevant references of his wife Saira Banu in the many sections of the book which ascertains the fact of her control over the book. Also seems like the editor had a lot of problems in writing a book in-sync with a timeline. Episodes about his mom,dad or family in general keep jumping from past to present n' then to future again confusing users many times. Many things from the main content of the book clearly contradict the reminiscence section. E.g. Ramesh Sippy clearly states (in reminiscences section) that sahab had got married the second time (something opposite to what the autobiography states).
Also a point worth noting is that, Harish Salve mentions that Sairaji called him to write an account, why Dilip Sahab didn't? Dilip Kumar himself didn't speak a word during the launch event of the autobiography and seemed only mersmerised vaguely with the ongoing event (from whatever shots were shown.) I don't follow bollywood gossips as much as I indulge in the study of old stars during their shiny times, but something doesn't feel right. Seems like the latter part of the book or rather half of the book doesn't seem to be narrated by Dilip Kumar at all. Did Dilip Kumar first agree to write this autobiography and then wanted to backout for some personal reasons that he appeared so aloof at the launch event or is he unwell due to old age factor like dementia that he really doesn't know what is happening? Bollywood superstars and their PR can be strange and cunning. They will want their fans to appreciate them, buy their work and support their causes, but when their claims are questioned by the same fans they might act weird. The recent case involving the launch event of the book involving 7 Crore shows that the book had a lot of financial interests and tie-ups apart from the real intentions meant to publish it.
Incidents don't match with history (published in magazines/newspapers of those days which weren't normal tabloid press but authentic) and there is undue emphasis on family life instead of film-making. The earlier part of the book does have family life but its more about experiences than people, but half of the book revolves around Saira Banu. Its nice to read about her, especially I liked it since I loved her, but it seems irrelevant in a Dilip Kumar autobiography that could have so many more interesting things. The reminiscences could have more film personalities than horde of relatives! The remin
This book is a must read for anyone doing any kind of job related to film making but those who know bollywood history for real and in detail should happily skip this book. This book is for kinda newcomers (new fans of classic era), who might find something new in it. Also, a few chapters from the book can make up as a textbook for people involved into filmmaking or acting. This is what makes the book incomplete especially if you have really followed classic bollywood. This could have been a better and more authentic book especially its 'official', but for a normal reader one might find better information on Dilip Kumar's life from the Film Archives that might be available with some memorabilia collectors or official bollywood media departments.
CINEMA OF INDIA