When Dilip Kumar sent his car for Pakistani cricket writer Qamar Ahmed
Ahmed also remembers watching his first Dilip Kumar movie as a 'schoolboy in Bihar'
Before the emotional scars left by the violence in the 1947 Partition forced his family to leave Bihar for Pakistan, Qamar Ahmed’s early memory of India is dominated by the kindness of their Hindu neighbours who shielded them from the mayhem that killed more than two million people.
Ahmed also fondly remembers watching his first movie as a ‘schoolboy in Bihar’.
“The first movie I ever saw was a Dilip Kumar movie. It was Jugnu (1947), so naturally, I have been a big Dilip Kumar fan. I remember the movie also had Noor Jehan in the lead role,” Ahmed recalled.
Having migrated to Pakistan after the Partition, Ahmed showed serious talent as a left-arm-spinner, even earning the distinction of being the only bowler to have dismissed the legendary Mohammad brothers of Pakistan cricket -- Hanif Mohammad, Mushtaq Mohammad and Sadiq Mohammad -- in domestic matches.
But Ahmed quit Pakistan first-class cricket to begin his career as a journalist with the BBC in London.
And it was for the BBC that Ahmed returned to the country of his birth to cover Pakistan’s 1979-1980 cricket series in India.
But Ahmed had no idea that a cricket series would offer him a ‘fan moment’ with his favourite actor.
“I first met Dilip Kumar in a function organised by Pakistan High Commissioner at the Taj Hotel. Then I met him again at Dev Anand’s house at dinner. He came to know that I was a BBC reporter from London, so he invited me for the shooting of his movie, Shakti,” Ahmed remembered.
The 83-year-old Ahmed, who has covered 450 Test matches, 739 one-dayers and nine World Cups, also dedicated few pages of his autobiography, Far More Than A Game, to the iconic Indian actor who passed away at the age of 98 on Wednesday.
With The Greatest of Indian screen who left us today July 2021. pic.twitter.com/doEbOqFzyU— Qamar Ahmed (@qamaruk) July 7, 2021
“Yes, Dilip Kumar is in my book. When I was in Bombay, I was also invited to a party at Raj Kapoor’s house because I was a friend of famous Pakistani actors, Mohammad Ali and Zeba. So we went to Raj Kapoor’s house where I met Dilip Kumar again,” said Ahmed.
“I asked Dilip Kumar if I could share with him something. When he nodded, I told him I was a friend of his childhood friend, Fazal Haleem. He got very emotional when I brought up the name of Fazal Haleem, his childhood friend who had moved to Karachi from Kanpur during the Partition.
“Then he asked me again if I was coming for his film shooting. There was no way I was going to say no to Dilip Kumar!”
It was the generosity of the famous actor that impressed Ahmed the most.
“You know, he even sent a car for us. I remember they were doing the last scene of Shakti. After the shooting, he told the tea boy, ‘Look, these are my friends from Pakistan. Please bring the special tea that you make for me’. He was so nice and kind.”
Ahmed’s career as a journalist saw him meet several iconic figures, including former South African president Nelson Mandela and Hollywood giants Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Lawrence, Sidney Poitier, Sean Connery and Roger Moore.
“I have met a few iconic people in my career, and I have to say the memory of Dilip Kumar as a human being is the most abiding,” Ahmed said.
“He was very impressive, his knowledge on every subject, whether it’s poetry or Shakespeare or cricket. He was a fantastic and knowledgeable man.
“He was also a very kind-hearted man who helped the poor, just like Sunil Dutt.
“Look, nobody is immortal. But Dilip Kumar’s acting is immortal and Dilip Kumar the person will always live in our hearts.”
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