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In 1959, Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar worked together in the film Paigham. Both the actors went on to become legends of Indian cinema. Both had distinctive acting styles, strong personalities and magnificent screen presence. It’s common knowledge that the two actors did not get along well and hence did not work together for a long time after Paigham. It was 32 years after Paigham that legendary filmmaker Subhash Ghai brought these veteran actors together and made the Silver Jubilee film Saudagar in 1991. The story of how Ghai Sahab managed to get these two actors with massive egos to work together is quite interesting. Ghai Sahab in an exclusive conversation with Nation Next shared the story…
On getting them to work together
It must have been quite a task to get Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar work in a film together. Explaining as to how exactly he managed to do it, Ghai Sahab said, “Dilip Kumar’s and my relationship was pretty strong because we worked together on films like Vidhaata and Karma prior to Saudagar. We had a lot of mutual respect for each other. So, I was confident that he wouldn’t mind working with me again. When I thought of casting Dilip Sahab and Raaj Kumar in Saudagar, I knew it would be difficult but I still decided to give it a try. I went and narrated the story to Dilip Sahab. He liked the story and agreed to work. He came to see me off and when I sat in my car, he asked, ‘Subhash, yeh dusre dost ka role kon kar raha hain? I closed the door of the car and just said, ‘Raaj Kumar’ and took off! I didn’t go to meet him for the next five to six days. Then, I went to meet Raaj Kumar at his house over drinks. He said, ‘Haan jani boliye.’ I narrated the story to him and asked him whether he would do the film. He said, ‘Bilkul karenge! Aap bhi talented hain aur hum bhi talented hain.’ Then he asked about the other role. I said, ‘Aapke sath toh koi bada actor nahi kar sakta. Dilip Kumar hain na, woh kar lega!’ He picked up his glass, and said, ‘Jaani iss Hindustan mai, apne baad hum kisi ko actor mante hain toh Dilip Kumar ko mante hain! Hamare samne jab Dilip Kumar aayega toh jalwa toh aayega!’”
On how he handled them
According to Ghai Sahab, the two actors gradually became friends. He said, “I can write a 300 page book on the things which happened during the shoot! By the time I was making Saudagar, I had learnt that a director must treat all stars like kids while shooting, as the stars can go nuts anytime! I wanted to make my film and also make sure I don't spoil their mood. Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar were such opposites. Together, they taught me one thing - how to handle actors with full of egos! I used to ego massage both of them for the film. In fact, I even used to tell Dilip Kumar how Raaj Kumar was his fan and vice versa. I used to praise both of them over each other. With time, their enmity started getting converted into friendship.”
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Here's the full video of Ghai Sahab's narration about Saudagar:
Photojournalist: Kartik Thakur