I am shocked and at loss of words. He was like an elder brother to me. It’s a black day for Indian cinema. I knew this day would come but I have never been able to prepare myself for it. I would regularly call Saira and enquire about Dilip saab’s health. I had called her on Monday and she said he was a bit ill but there was nothing to worry about. Sometimes I would just randomly pay a visit to their house and check on his health. I couldn’t see him in the condition and would start crying. Saira would cheer me up and she would often tell me that he would be fine.
I grew up watching his films and he was one of the reasons why I decided to become an actor. I used to go and stand outside his house before I became an actor. Watching him on the big screen was like going and visiting a temple. He was a really handsome man with impeccable manners and stylish too. He was also a brilliant actor. His clothes, hairstyle, the way he talked and waked exuded glamour and uniqueness. His zest for life was infectious.
I was fortunate to work with him in my first Bengali film Paari (1966, which was later remade in Hindi as Anokha Milan in 1978) but I didn’t have any scenes with him. I remember we had taken a flight together to Kolkata and we chatted a lot about films and life. It is unfortunate that I couldn’t share the screen space with him.
He loved me even more than my own relatives. I remember he was on a strict diet and Saira wouldn’t allow him to eat a lot of things. He was a big foodie and would often call me whenever he would want to dine outside without Saira’s knowledge. Saira and Dilip saab would often invite me for dinner. When I became an actor, I used to visit their house on Eid to sheer kurma. He was like a kid at heart. At the same time, he was intelligent and a learned man. He will always remain my hero.
I am very sad. I just pray to god that to bless his soul and give Saira all the strength and courage.
(As told to News18.com)