By Raza Elahi
Recently some members of Indian film industry have urged the government to award Bharat Ratna to Bollywood legend Dilip Kumar. A community titled “Dilip Kumar for Bharat Ratna” on Facebook, which is started by filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, is seeking 100,000 solidarity comments for the actor.
Is there really any need for such campaign for a man widely believed to be the finest actor Indian film industry has ever produced? Isn’t lobbying for the award an insult to this icon of film industry?
It is true no celebrity deserves a Bharat Ratna better than Dilip Kumar, who dominated the film industry for decades. He became known for playing tragic roles in Dedar (1951), Amar (1954) and Devdas (1955), which gave him the title of “tragedy king”.
His other landmark performances in films like Andaaz (1949), Naya Daur (1957), Madhumati (1958), Mughal-E-Azam (1960), Ganga Jamuna (1961), Leader (1964), Aadmi (1968), Gopi (1970) and Shakti (1982) show how versatile actor he is. Perhaps, someone rightly said, Dilip Kumar is not an actor but an institution of acting. His charitable and social services are also quiet known. On many occasions, he was in the forefront to generate funds for drought and flood hit people. In 1980, he was also appointed Sheriff of Mumbai, an honorary position.
His vast contribution to the film industry is unmatched. Those who disagree are not being honest. For such a towering personality, there is absolutely no need for any campaign. What Mahesh Bhatt & co. is doing is nothing short of being called sycophancy. The whole exercise demeans the man who always has a high moral value. Dilip Kumar never appeared on advertisements on TV. He has a set of principle, “I am an actor not a salesman to sell the products on TV.” Can these true foot soldiers justify convassing for the thespian on the social networking website?
They must also not forget that there are legends in other fields too, who have done great services to the nation, but so far have been deprived of the honour. M S Swaminathan, E Sreedharan, Ratan Tata and Sam Pitroda are just a few examples. No one can also undermine the achievements of Kalpana Chawla. She was one of the seven crewmembers killed in the space shuttle Columbia disaster. These people are a few among others who hold a great respect for their contributions in the nation’s progress. Will it be just if their fans also start such campaigns? Will the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour, not loose the sheen when canvassing for it starts from every fora and platforms?
It is an irony that not only Mahesh Bhatt & co, but our political parties too, have completely lost the essence of this award. Their lobbying for the Bharat Ratna has touched a new low. Last year, LK Advani sparked the controversy by writing to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the government should confer the Bharat Ratna on former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in recognition of his sincerity, dedication and matchless service to the nation. After that letter, a tsunami of names -- Kanshi Ram, Biju Patnaik, Simranjeet Singh Maan, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Yadav, Chawdhury Charan Singh, Babu Jagjivan Ram, M Karunanidhi, Mahatma Phule, Chander Shekhar, Kapoori Thakur – cropped up for the award. Every political party wanted the award for their respective icons.
The manner our so-called responsible people are hoarding their demands for the Bharat Ratna to be conferred on their icons and idols, it seems they think every thing in the world is open for auction. They can buy it and in this case, perhaps, through solidarity comments, letters and petitions etc.