Hyderabad: Legendary actor, Dilip Kumar, who passed away recently had a special connect with Hyderabad. He loved the Urdu culture and cuisine of the nawabi city. He visited Hyderabad several times but his participation in the mushaira organized by the All India Muslim Educational Society (AIMES) in 1976 is remembered even to this day.

The thespian not just cast a mesmerizing spell on the audience but virtually stole the mushaira right under the noses of such eminent poets like Sardar Ali Jaffery, Shaz Tamkanat, Banu Tahera Sayeed and Salahuddin Nayyar. The arrival of Dilip Kumar along with his wife, Saira Banu, added charm to the conference which was inaugurated by then President, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed.

Organized by former Law Minister Asif Pasha, the 6th AIMES conference was historical in more than one aspect. Apart from the Bollywood star couple, the picturesque King Kothi Palace, the venue of the conference, was a big draw. It was for the first time that the Nizam's palace was thrown open for the conference and as expected there was a mad rush. People just gate crashed into the conference to see the palace as also their heart-throb, Dilip Kumar.

The latter, of course, did not let down his fans. He enthralled them with his inimitable style and flowery language. He spoke at length about the Urdu language and its sweetness. Though it grew and flourished in Delhi and Lucknow, it was in Hyderabad that the Urdu tehzeeb found firm roots. "Hyderabad ne Urdu ko parwan chadhya", Dilip Kumar remarked. Later he recited a nazm, drawing lusty cheers from the audience.

Asif Pasha and Dilip Kumar at the mushaira

Asif Pasha, who is writing his memoirs, says the actor did not put on any airs and readily agreed to attend the conference. He also accepted a chowki dinner invitation extended by noted educationist, Nawab Shah Alam Khan, at his Barkatpura residence. A connoisseur of culinary delights, the actor thoroughly enjoyed the Hyderabadi biryani and other delicacies like haleem much to the pleasure of the hosts. Before flying back to Mumbai, Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu spent time with Asif Pasha and his family.

The veteran actor, who is considered a torchbearer of the Urdu language, was conferred an honorary doctorate by the Maulana Azad National Urdu University at its third convocation in February 2009. However, Dilip Kumar could not come to Hyderabad due to ill health. But he sent a beautiful handwritten message in Urdu thanking MANUU for the honor.

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. His third book - Urdu Poets and Writers , Gems of Deccan  - is just released. Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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