Indira Gandhi is known to be one of the strongest personalities in Indian politics of all time. Most of her life became known after she became prime minister. But there are instances from her erstwhile life that are even more interesting and give a clear image of her personality. One such instance is her meeting with Dilip Kumar.
Dilip Kumar and his meeting with Indira Gandhi
Dilip Kumar is known as the “Kohinoor” of Bollywood. It was the 1970s when his films were not gaining enough audience, and consequently, he was going through a bad phase. He was also criticised for publicly supporting Congress and the declaration of an emergency. Even after all this, Dilip Kumar was a centre of attraction for Bollywood lovers.
Once, he narrated a fable in front of the crowd in which he talked about his meeting with J.L. Nehru and Indira Gandhi. During a meeting at snacks, he was talking to Jawahar Lal Nehru when Indira Gandhi interrupted by saying, “What type of movies do you make?” She further said, “I went to Paris, Moscow, and London and watched symphony orchestras, plays, and pictures.” “They are the best; why has Indian cinema lagged so far behind?”
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Dilip Kumar, while narrating the whole meeting, further says that during those times people thought that Bollywood actors’ only work was to dance, perform plays and dramas. But I used to do social work. And Nehru, being aware of that, always greeted me with kindness.
But what he perceived about Indira Gandhi was that, despite Nehru being a great personality, her daughter was crossing her limits. She was condemning the media outrightly, which was not justified. She asked him, “What type of industry is this?” Her question came up with the accusation that Indian films lack “hindostaniyat” (a touch of Indianness).
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Perfect reply to Indira
Dilip Kumar says he listened to Indira Gandhi for almost 15 minutes, and when he realised that the moment had come where replying to her would not be disrespectful, he started speaking.
He gracefully accepted that most of her thoughts were actually correct, but not on Hindustaniyat. “While you speak about ‘Hindustaniyat’ in the movies, let me tell you that what you spoke for nearly 12 minutes has no single word of the Indian language,” he said.”The only language you are speaking is English.”
Showing a mirror to India, he depicted the poor reality of Indian infrastructure. He said, “Today we are developing roads, we are trying to develop our irrigation, we are trying to establish hospitals, and we are trying to develop international relations.” Every year, we ask the international community for grains. “Still, many people do not have access to potable water.”
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“We have poor education, so we dont have only film industry that is poor, we have roads that are poor, we hve agriculture that is poor. And, if I put it to you Madam, Inspite the most dedicated Man at the helm of affairs, the great personality, our government itself has some things poor.”
Dilip Kumar thought that Nehru would have been disappointed. But Nehru said, “You know, Yusuf, if I were you, I would not be so polite.” “We can create and transform everything but our culture.”
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Lesson for Indira
The whole conversation that he narrated is simply nothing but an acute manifestation of our cultural richness. At the time of growth, the people always try to look out for cultural superiority. They eventually become muted follower of some other culture. The irony is that they follow some other culture just because they are ignorant of their own. And it was the lesson Indira could have learned. The richness of Indian culture and language is unparalleled.
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