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Dilip Kumar’s old video, where he talks about boldly shutting down Indira Gandhi’s criticism of ‘poor films’ in Bollywood, goes viral

Schemes like 'Jan Dhan Yojana', 'Ujjwala scheme', Swachh Bharat Mission, toilets for everyone, and 'Jal Jivan Yojana' are there to ensure every Indian gets the basic necessities in life, something that they were deprived of till now.

A video featuring late Bollywood icon Dilip Kumar is making the rounds on social media these days. In this video, Dilip Kumar is reminiscing about a meeting he had with the then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, and his daughter Indira Gandhi.

Recounting the incident, one of the biggest superstars of the Indian film industry said that Indira Gandhi him why the Indian films made in that era were not as good as their western counterparts. After about 10-15 minutes of such complaints by Indira Gandhi, Dilip Kumar said that he told Indira that when nothing else in India is comparable to the west, then how can films be different from the society where they are made?

Remembering the incident, Dilip Kumar said, “Once I was having breakfast with Jawaharlal Nehru. At that time, Indira Gandhi intervened in our discussion and said, I was in Paris, I went to Moscow, I have watched the plays and films, I have listened to a symphonic orchestra too. How beautiful are all of them! Why are your Indian films not like that? Why is the Indian cinema lagging so behind?”

Dilip Kumar said, “In those days we used to do shows to raise funds for various social causes because common people would think of us differently. We had to establish our connection with the people, so we used to do those shows. We developed our socio-civic identity, consciousness, and credibility. We were keen to establish how we are rooted in our culture. So, I felt that the daughter of our then Prime Minister was overstepping her limits by raising such questions on Indian cinema. Total condemnation of a medium in this way is not justified.”

The Bollywood thespian further said, “She (Indira Gandhi) said, what kind of industry is this? And she said that Indian films lack ‘Indianness’. She went on talking like this for 12-15 minutes. At last, I felt that if I reply now, it won’t be an insult.”

Dilip Kumar then described how he responded to Indira Gandhi and told her the reason why she thought the way she did.

Dilip Kumar said, “I told her that you are complaining for the last 15 minutes and it is true to a large extent, but whatever you have said for the last 12-15 minutes, not a single word of that was from an Indian language. You were continuously talking in English. Today, we are developing our roads, irrigation, education, hospitals, and all. We don’t have water to drink in spite of a dedicated man at the helm of affairs, we have poor education. Yes, our films are poor. But we don’t just have a film industry that is poor. We have an educational system that is poor. Our roads are poor. We have an agriculture that is poor. And if I put this to you, ma’am, we have governance that has a lot many things that are poor.”

Dilip Kumar added, “I first thought that Jawaharlal Nehru would be upset with my remarks, but after a few moments of silence, he said that had he been in my place, he would not be so polite.”

Dilip Kumar further emphasized the importance of ‘Indianness’ in Indian literature and said, “We can import engineering technology and other know-how. But we cannot import culture. We cannot import literature. We should develop it from our own soil.”

This speech by the late actor explains why the films made in the first few decades after Indian independence, during the Congress rule, highlighted poverty. The prime reason behind this, as told by Dilip Kumar, is that poverty encompassed every sector of life in India in those days. This stands in sharp contrast to the modern-day “new India” where infrastructure and industries are getting special attention from the government.

Schemes like ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’, ‘Ujjwala scheme’, Swachh Bharat Mission, toilets for everyone, and ‘Jal Jivan Yojana’ are there to ensure every Indian gets the basic necessities in life, something that they were deprived of till now.

The impact of such schemes on an average Indian’s life is absolutely huge, and with Indians enjoying a better quality of life, we can see their impact on Indian cinema as well. The movies made today don’t rely on the 50s and 60s trope of poor villagers against an evil landlord. The hero today can be anyone, filmmakers don’t have to deliberately show him poor to relate to the masses because as the masses have risen, so has the stature of an average Bollywood hero.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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