Dilip Kumar, one of the greatest actors of Indian cinema, was an aristocrat, a handsome compassionate personality of Indian cinema.
In my early days in Bombay, I met him through his sisters Fauzia and Saeeda, one of whom worked a magazine. Dilip bhai was born on December 11, while I was born on December 2. We are both Sagittarians and that is how we used to greet each other.
Decades later, in 2007, I was commissioned to do a portrait of him. I took a 5 foot by 4 foot canvas to their home in Bandra and I did the portrait there.
Normally, I never do a portrait of anybody in their house. This was only was the second time I had done so. The only other I did that was in 1994, when I painted Sardar Gurcharan Singh, the great potter.
I remember I had taken a Kerala Kora Mundu sari for Saira Banu and I also gave them some catalogues of my shows. They looked at each of of my works in them very carefully.
Some of these photographs shot during this process show him and Saira Banu holding a brush and the palette, mock painting. But neither touched my canvas.
Dilip bhai was always very well dressed. What he wore, how he spoke and behaved – it was all very refined. I recall the beautiful time we had in his house with Saira Banu during the time of painting.
I call the work “Medallion” because I treated their heads as medals in a circular form at the top of the painting.
Later, they both signed at the back of the canvas. It was an experience I treasure.
Jatin Das is a painter, sculptor and muralist.
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