Film director Mahesh Bhatt is rallying support on-line through Facebook and other means to urge the Government to bestow the country’s highest civilian award – the Bharat Ratna – on Dilip Kumar. His target is 100,000 signatures. “It is the entire industry’s effort,” he says, “From every region, stalwarts have come out to appeal for him. I was just a foot soldier. It is the Indian film industry’s effort, not an individual’s effort.”
Dilip Kumar, who is now 86, is best remembered for his roles in movies such as Devdas and Mughal-e-Azam. He is also equally renowned for his love of Madhubala, a tragic story that was to be unfulfilled because of the antipathy of their families. “Dilip Kumar is one of the finest actors in the Indian film industry,” states film director Prabhakar Shukla, “He did only 64 films in his career and is still regarded as the best. He is like Lata Mangeshkar, you won’t get another Lata…Similarly, you won’t get another Dilip Kumar. In the true sense, he is Bharat Ratna.”
Dilip, known as the Tragedy King because he always appeared to waging war against Destiny, won the Filmfare Best Actor Award eight times. Recently, unfortunately, he has not been too well, having been admitted to Lilivati Hospital suffering from malaria, where he was visited by Sonia Gandhi amongst others. Dilip has worked all his life to try and bring Pakistan and India closer together. In 1997, he was awarded the Nishan-e-Pakistan, the country’s highest civilian award.