The Indian film industry has stormed new media for a cause. It is trying to urge the government through a social networking website to confer the highest civilian award Bharat Ratna upon Bollywood thespian Dilip Kumar.
A community called 'Dilip Kumar for Bharat Ratna' on Facebook started by filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt already has over 850 members. The members of the community have been asked to leave a comment by replying a one liner - 'I endorse that Dilip Kumar is the most deserving person to be honoured with the Bharat Ratna'.
The community is trying to seek solidarity from people so that the comments could be forwarded to the President and the Prime Minister. Mahesh Bhatt said that it is the effort of the whole film industry and not the work of a few individuals.
Celebrities like Rajeev Khandelwal, Mukul Dev, Shabbir Ahluwalia, Varun Badola, Randeep Hooda, Urvashi Dholakia, Film critic and filmmaker Khalid Mohammed, director Prabhakar Shukla and popular Bangladeshi singer Runa Laila have joined the cause.
The 86-year-old actor is known for his performance in films like Devdas, Madhumati, Ganga Jamuna, Mughal-E-Azam, Shakti and Karma. He has won eight Filmfare Best Actor Awards out of 19 nominations. He was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement award in 1992 and the Government of India conferred him with the Dada Saheb Phalke award, the highest award for cinematic excellence in India, in the year 1994. He is also a recipient of Nishan-e-Pakistan, Pakistan's highest civilian award. He was also awarded CNN-IBN Indian of the year - Lifetime achievement award in 2009.
Filmmaker Satyajit Ray was the first person from the film industry to receive Bharat Ratna and no actor has been conferred with the honour so far. However, music greats like Carnatic music vocalist M.S. Subbulakshmi, sitar player Ravi Shankar, singer Lata Mangeshkar, shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan and classical singer Bhimsen Joshi have been conferred with the honour.
Now, the Indian film fraternity is trying to urge the government to make veteran actor Dilip Kumar the first recipient of this coveted award.