Dalip Tahil: “Mahesh Babu’s Bollywood comment was about work ethics”


Actor Dalip Tahil has been a mainstay of Hindi cinema for decades now. Largely playing the role of antagonist, the actor has essayed several character roles in Hindi as well as regional languages and was even part of the BBC show ‘EastEnders’ cast once.

When the Mahesh Babu – Bollywood comment controversy exploded across social media, Tahil was among the few who defended Mahesh’s comments. At the time Dalip had tweeted his support and written, “In my humble opinion, when @urstrulyMahesh (south megastar) says Hindi movies cannot afford him, he is most likely referring to the work ethic, where I completely agree with him… more strength to Mahesh Babu.”

Dalip Tahil is currently seen in the Netflix movie, ‘Toolsidas Junior’, where he plays the antagonist. In a recent interview with HT, the actor was asked to elaborate on what he meant by work ethics in his tweet.

Responding to this, Dalip said, “What I meant by work ethics, I still stand by it. When Mahesh Babu said ‘Hindi films can’t afford me’, maybe partly he meant the remuneration, but it had a lot to do with (something else as well) …. You must understand, Mahesh Babu is a huge star across the country, not just the Telugu film industry. He is a pan-India, mega star. You must understand, when he comes to a place where he is not absolutely in control, and in complete understanding of the functioning of the project, it is going to be very difficult for him.”

He further spoke about work ethics in the south Indian film industries and said, “I have just done a Telugu film with superstar Pawan Kalyan and the work ethic is totally different. To begin with, the producers are themselves invested in the films. They are present on the sets; it is not a corporate board meeting (that is) taking decisions. They are hands-on. They shoot films start-to-finish. They are far more organised from that point of view. The decision making is with the people who are actually making the films. Yes, it is improving in Bombay as well. But by and large, the work ethics is still slipshod.”

Dalip further added, “Scripts are not ready in time, the availability, changing schedules…they are all a part and parcel of films but it does not happen in the south. They are far more organised. The main people driving the projects are committed to one project at a time and it makes a big difference. Things get done far more efficiently. When I came in movies, you’d get an envelope with dates and signing amount, that’s it. The decision making was with people who are actually making films.”

Dalip further elaborated on how bound scripts are an important part in every other industry and said, “I am sure Bombay will also become an equally well-oiled machinery. I am not trying to degrade Hindi film industry or anyone but just saying what I have seen over past 47 years. I respect the Hindi movie system. It gave me a lot, and taught me a lot and I love the madness here. I remember when I did Bombay Dreams, and the BBC series (East Enders in 2003 and Nuclear Secrets in 2007), I was asked the difference between the industries and I said I miss the magic of the madness. You know, being given a new script just one hour before the shot. Unthinkable! I loved that madness; it was left to you as an actor to adjust. Let me tell you, it is not a good situation to be in. From my experience of working in south Indian films, it is a far better-oiled machinery. That way, it will be difficult for Mahesh Babu to come and work in Hindi films.”

Dalip then talked about how Hindi cinema is still not working with bound scripts and said that in any other region or country, if you give an actor another sequence and say let’s do it, they would refuse stating that they are not prepared for it. He also added that when he was working on ‘EastEnders’ he would get his episode dialogs and scenes a fortnight in advance, all sealed and bound in an envelope.


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