Recently, when filmmaker and archivist Shivendra Singh Dungarpur was in Glasgow, UK, he happened to mention to his South Asian cab driver that there is a festival of Dilip Kumar films slated to happen this month across Indian cities. “Forget about charging me, he got so ecstatic that he took me to a restaurant insisting that I have a dessert there and told me he will be my cab driver for the entire night. That’s the beauty of cinema that connects countries and that’s the love everyone has for Yousuf saab!” says Dungarpur.
The Film Heritage Foundation, of which Dungarpur is the director, is marking the centenary of the iconic film actor with a festival titled Dilip Kumar Hero of Heroes. Four of his films, including Aan (1952), Devdas (1955), Ram aur Shyam (1967) and Shakti (1982) are being shown in 30 cinema halls in over 20 cities across India on December 10 and 11.
In October, the Foundation had celebrated Bachchan Back to the Beginning festival to mark the 80th birthday of superstar Amitabh Bachchan. The resounding success of that festival - with people cheering and clapping in theatres as they watched Big B in some of his legendary films - is only an indicator of how ready the audience is to go back to the classics, believes Dungarpur. In a chat, he spoke about the restoration of some of the films and the challenges he faced doing so. Edited excerpts from a conversation: