Dilip Kumar is considered to be one of the greatest and finest actors in the history of Indian cinema and a source of inspiration to other superstars like Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. Dilip Kumar was born in Peshawar, Pakistan on 11th December 1922 and originally named Muhammad Yusuf Khan. He along with Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor were the biggest stars of the ‘golden era’ of Hindi cinema. Dilip Kumar is highly admired for his method acting and is referred as ‘The Tragedy King’.
DILIP KUMAR’S ENTRY IN CINEMA
Before becoming an actor he set up a sandwich stall at an army club in Pune. At Mumbai, he met Devika Rani, an actress and the owner of Bombay Talkies and signed a contract with her company for payment of 1250 rupees per year. He became friends with Ashok Kumar and Shashadhar Mukherjee, who had a huge influence in his career and initially started his career in script-writing due to his proficiency in Urdu. Devika Rani later requested him to change his name to Dilip Kumar and later cast him in a lead role for the film Jwar Bhata (1944) thus making his debut in the film industry.
DILIP KUMAR AND THE GOLDEN ERA
His performance in Jwar Bhata (1944) went unnoticed. His first major hit in the box office was Jugnu(1947) in which he starred alongside Noor Jehan. The film Andaz(1949) rose him to stardom. In this film, he starred opposite Raj Kapoor and Nargis, who later became prominent figures in the film industry. He enjoyed a successful career in the 50s and starred in classics like Jogan(1950), Deedar(1951), Amar(1954) Devdas(1955), Naya Daur(1957), Madhumati (1958) e.t.c. He was the first actor to win the Filmfare Best Actor Award, which he received for his performance in Daag(1952). He further won 7 more Filmfare awards in this category.
DILIP KUMAR IN THE 60s
1960 witnessed the release of K. Asif’s epic film ‘Mughal-E-Azam’ which starred Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, Prithviraj Kapoor, and Durga Khote. Mughal-E-Azam is considered to be a landmark film in the history of Indian cinema and Dilip Kumar’s finest performance in which he played the role of Salim. Mughal-E-Azam is one of the highest grossing films in the history of Indian cinema and received huge praise from critics for its grandeur. Dilip Kumar suffered from depression due to too many tragedy roles and he was advised by a doctor to do lighter roles. He further experimented with new roles- he played comical characters in Kohinoor(1960) and Leader(1964) and also played a double role in Ram Aur Shyam(1967). He produced the only film of his career Ganga Jamuna(1961) which starred him opposite Vyjayanthimala and his younger brother Nasir Khan. In 1962, he was offered the role of “Sherif Ali” in the film ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, which he declined. He married actress Saira Banu in 1966.
The 70s, 80s, 90s AND BEYOND
Dilip Kumar starred alongside his real wife- Saira Banu in the film Gopi(1920). However, during the 70s, Dilip Kumar lost popularity due to the arrival of new actors like Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan. Films like Dastaan(1972) and Bairag(1976) failed at the box office. From 1976 to 1981, he took a 5 years hiatus from films. He made a comeback with Kranti(1981) which became a huge box office hit and further acted in movies like Vidhaata(1982), Shakti(1982), Karma(1986) and Saudagar(1991) all of which were box office hits. He starred in Yash Chopra’s Mashaal(1984) which flopped at the box office but received critical acclaim. He made his last appearance in the film Qila(1998) which flopped at the box office. His films Mughal-E-Azam and Naya Daur were fully colourized and re-released in cinemas in 2004 and 2008 respectively.
Dilip Kumar is Bollywood’s oldest living star! Indian cinema is incomplete without this legendary actor. His acting caliber remains untouched and continues to inspire and impress people throughout generations. Dilip Kumar holds the record for winning the highest number of awards by an Indian actor. He won the highest number of Filmfare Awards for Best Actor, a distinction which he shares with Shah Rukh Khan. He was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. For his contribution towards Indian cinema, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award in 2015 and the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award in 1991. In 1998, the government of Pakistan honored him with its highest civilian honor, the Nishan-e-Imtiaz. He was honored with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India’s highest award in cinema in 1994.