When it comes to the launch of Bollywood thespian Dilip Kumar's biography, it couldn't get starrier.
While megastar Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan launched Dilip Kumar's biography at a five-star hotel in Mumbai recently in presence of the veteran actor and his wife Saira Banu, the event was attended by a host of Bollywood celebrities: Jeetendra, Vyjayanthimala, Zeenat Aman, Danny Denzongpa, Javed Akhtar, Salim Khan, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Dharmendra, Madhuri Dixit, Priyanka Chopra, Subhash Ghai, Raju Hirani, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Riteish Deshmukh and Kiran Rao among others.
Producer-director Karan Johar played host for the evening while Madhuri Dixit and Priyanka Chopra lit the lamp with Vyjayanthimala.
The book, titled “Substance and Shadow”, is authored by Uday Tara Nayar, a close family friend of Dilip Kumar, and chronicles the life of Kumar right from his childhood, career, ups and downs in his life, his family and more.
“This evening is special and we hope everyone likes his biography. I am feeling great today; it is a dream come true for me. For the first time he has spoken about it,” Saira Banu told reporters.
The book launch function was swept by nostalgia and rich tributes paid to Dilip Kumar by Bollywood stars, past and present, as the popular song “Suhana safar aur ye mausam haseen” , sung by Mukesh from the 1958 film “Madhumati” played in the background.
Aamir Khan recited a poem penned by leading lyricist Prasoon Joshi and a few actors came on the dais to share their experiences about Dilip Kumar.
“It is a big day and I am big fan of Yusuf sahab. It is a memorable day. He is such an inspirational figure to me right through my career. I have learnt so much from him. Every time I watch his work, I feel am discovering him each time. I am thrilled to be here,” Aamir said.
Jeetendra said he was a big fan of Dilip Kumar and felt honoured to be present at the book launch.
“It is a great honour to be here. He is a legend. He is fond of music and it is a great opportunity for all of us to be here. I hope he has long life,” sitar maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan said.
Actress Madhuri Dixit said, “He is a legendary actor and a book on him is something I am looking forward to. He has been an inspiration not only to actors but to everyone. As an actor, I would like to know how he approached his roles and what he went through when he played the roles.”
Calling her first film, 'Devdas” (1955) with Dilip Kumar a turning point in her career, Vyjayanthimala reminisced: “I was playing Chandramukhi and for my first shot, I was to say the line 'Aur kitna piyoge Devdas?' I was rehearsing this line, nervous that my south Indian accent would ruin it. But when the camera rolled, Dilip was missing because he was outside, running around the studio compound to make sure he looked his part of a breathless drunk with bloodshot eyes. That was the first of many lessons in acting I learnt from Dilip saab over the seven films we did.”
The veteran actor was born as Mohammad Yusuf Khan but adopted the screen name of Dilip Kumar. In a career spanning over six decades, Kumar gave hits like “Madhumati”, “Devdas”, “Mughal-e-Azam”, “Ganga Jamuna”, “Ram Aur Shyam”, “Karma” and others.
He was crowned the 'Tragedy King' for playing a doomed lover in films like “Andaz”, “Baabul”, “Mela”, “Deedar” and “Jogan”. Dilip Kumar was last seen on screen in film “Qila” in 1998.
He was honoured with India's highest film award Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994.
Singers Shaan and Javed Ali sang a medley of Kumar's hit numbers. Amitabh Bachchan read an excerpt from the autobiography on Kumar's first moment in front of the camera for the film “Jwar Bhatta” (1944).