Article Hindi

The films of Nitin Bose and Dilip Kumar


On the filmmaker’s 120th birth anniversary today, we take a look at the three films Nitin Bose worked on with the star, Dilip Kumar.

Sonal Pandya

The former cameraman-turned-filmmaker Nitin Bose worked with three top Indian studios in New Theatres, Bombay Talkies and Filmistan. As a young boy, Nitin Bose’s father encouraged his love of photography, buying him a Houghton Butcher camera for Rs165. In an interview with Govind Nihalani, Bose said of his first ever camera, “I would place it on the pillow by my head and sleep with my hand on the camera and the feeling that it is my camera, and the camera was me, as if we were twins. That was my attitude right from the very beginning, and that was my attitude throughout my life.”

In 1921, Nitin Bose made a documentary on the Belgian Emperor’s trip to India. Five years later, he was a cameraman on Punarjanma (1927). At BN Sircar’s New Theatres studios, he assisted filmmaker Debaki Bose in all kinds of tasks before being handed the task of directing the Hindi version of Debaki’s film, Chandidas (1932), in Hindi with KL Saigal and Uma Devi.

Nitin Bose pioneered the use of playback singing in Indian cinema with the Bengali film Bhagya Chakra (1935). The film was remade in Hindi as Dhoop Chhaon (1935). Having emerged as one of the key pillars at New Theatres, Bose also trained Bimal Roy. Like his mentor, Roy too turned from cinematography to direction. Incidentally, both Bose and Roy were cameramen on Devdas (1928) and Devdas (1935) respectively.

After a misunderstanding with Sircar, Nitin Bose left New Theatres for greener pastures in Mumbai. Within a few years, the once formidable studio closed, but not before it launched Bimal Roy as a filmmaker.

Read more: The journey of Bimal Roy’s first film Udayer Pathe

Nitin Bose's Hindi film career, which began thereafter in Mumbai, was marked by three very memorable films that had Dilip Kumar in the lead role. The first of which, Milan (1946), was a retelling of Rabindranath Tagore’s Bengali story, Nouka Dubi. It was among the few films that Dilip Kumar acted in for Bombay Talkies, the studio that moulded his early career. In Milan (1946), Dilip Kumar played Ramesh, a young man torn between his love and his duty to a woman who mistakenly assumes that he is her husband.

Nitin Bose greatly influenced Dilip Kumar’s acting style, leading the thespian to remark in his autobiography, “While working with Nitin Bose during the making of Milan (1946), I understood how vital it is for an actor to get so close to the character that the thin line between the actor’s own personality and the imagined personality of the character gets blurred.”

The two teamed up again in 1951. In Deedar (1951), Nitin Bose put Dilip Kumar in the same frame as his own acting mentor, Ashok Kumar. The tragic storyline featured Ashok Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Nargis and Nimmi in love quadangle. Dilip Kumar often confided that Bose understood him well. This comes across in the director's films. The actors and actresses in Nitin Bose’s films played fleshed-out characters, which offered them increased scope for performance.

Such was Dilip Kumar's admiration for the director that when the time came to launch his home production, Dilip Kumar chose Nitin Bose as his director. The film was Gunga Jumna (1961), in which Dilip Kumar and his real-life brother Nasir Khan played brothers on the opposite sides of the law. Despite the trust between the actor and his director, there were several rumours that the film, which won the certificate of merit at the National Awards that year, was actually directed by Dilip Kumar. Ironically, the blockbuster film became Nitin Bose’s most celebrated film in Hindi. However, the director and actor did not work together again.

In 1977, Nitin Bose was honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke award for his 'outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema'. Seven years later, his nephew Satyajit Ray was honoured with the same award.