Dilip Kumar

Rare vintage photos of legendary Indian actor Dilip Kumar.


Dilip Kumar, born Muhammad Yusuf Khan on 11 December 1922, is an Indian actor and a former Member of Parliament. He is commonly known as "Tragedy King", and is described as "the ultimate method actor" by Satyajit Ray.

Starting his career with Jwar Bhata in 1944, Kumar's career has spanned five decades and over 60 films. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest actors in the history of Hindi cinema. Kumar was the first actor to receive a Filmfare Best Actor Award and holds the record for the most number of Filmfare Awards won for that category with Shahrukh Khan; eight wins. He starred in films of a variety of genres such as the romantic Andaz (1949), the swashbuckling Aan (1952), the dramatic Devdas (1955), the comical Azaad (1955), the historical Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and the social Ganga Jamuna (1961).

In 1976, Kumar took a five-year break from film performances. In 1981, he returned with a character role in the film Kranti and continued his career playing central character roles in films such as Shakti (1982), Karma (1986) and Saudagar (1991). His last film was Qila in 1998. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1991 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994 for his contributions towards Indian cinema. Dilip Kumar has acted with actress Vyjayanthimala the most, where they both had acted seven films together including the former's home production Gunga Jumna resulting great on-screen chemistry and alleged affair between them.

Dilip Kumar was born as Muhammad Yusuf Khan on 11 December 1922, in Peshawar, British India (now in Pakistan). He was born to a Hindko speaking Peshawari family. His father, Lala Ghulam Sarwar, was a fruit merchant who owned orchards in Peshawar and Nashik in Maharashtra, India. The family relocated to Bombay (now Mumbai) in the late 1920s. Dilip Kumar started working as a canteen supplier in Pune circa 1940.

In 1943, actress Devika Rani, and her second husband Svetoslav Roerich spotted Khan in Aundh military canteens, Pune. and helped Khan's entry into the Bollywood film industry. Hindi author Bhagwati Charan Varma gave him the screen name Dilip Kumar and offered him the leading role in his film Jwar Bhata (1944).

His first film with Nisar Bhai and Hamed Bhai Jwar Bhata was released in 1944 which went unnoticed. His first major hit was the 1947 film Jugnu. He went onto appear in many hit films including Mela (1948), Andaz (1949), Deedar (1951), Devdas (1955), Yahudi (1958) and Madhumati (1958). These films established his screen image as the "Tragedy King". Together with Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand he was the biggest star in Bollywood in the 1950s. He starred alongside Raj Kapoor in Andaz (1949) and Dev Anand in Insaniyat (1955). He formed popular on-screen pairings with many of the top actresses at the time including Nargis, Kamini Kaushal, Meena Kumari, Madhubala and Vyjanthimala.

Depressed after playing many tragic roles his psychiatrist suggested he take on ligher roles which he played in films such as Aan (1952), Azaad (1955) and Kohinoor (1960). In 1960 he portrayed Prince Salim in the historical film Mughal-e-Azam which as of 2008 was the second highest grossing film in Hindi film history.

In 1961 he produced and starred in Ganga Jamuna in which he and his real-life brother Nasir Khan played the title roles. This was the only film he produced. In 1962 British director David Lean offered him the role of Sherif Ali in his 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia, but Kumar declined the part. The role eventually went to Omar Sharif, the Egyptian actor. His next film Leader (1964) was below average at the box office. In 1967 Dilip Kumar played a dual role of twins separated at birth in the hit film Ram Aur Shyam. His career slumped in the 1970s with films like Dastaan (1970) and Bairaag (1976), the latter in which he played triple roles failing at the box office. He took a five year hiatus from films from 1976 to 1981.

In 1981 he returned with the multi-starrer Kranti which was the biggest hit of the year. He went onto play character roles in hit films including Shakti (1982), Vidhaata (1982), Mashaal (1984) and Karma (1986). In 1991 he starred alongside veteran actor Raaj Kumar in Saudagar which was his last successful film. In 1993 he won the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1996 he was attached to make his directorial debut with a film titled Kalinga but the film was shelved. In 1998 he made his last film appearance in the unsuccessful film Qila where once again he played dual roles as an evil landowner and his twin brother investigating his death. His films Mughal-e-Azam and Naya Daur were fully colorized and re-released in 2004 and 2008 respectively.

Dilip Kumar was very choosy, and turned down lead roles in many films which eventually were released to great box office success, including Lawrence of Arabia, Pyaasa, The Rains Came and Sangam.

Dilip Kumar is widely considered to be one of the greatest actors in the history of Hindi cinema. Kumar holds the Guinness World Record for having won the maximum number of awards by an Indian actor. He has received many awards throughout his career, including 8 Filmfare Best Actor awards and 19 nominations. He was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. The Government of India honoured him with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994 — the highest award for cinematic excellence in India. In 1980, he was appointed Sheriff of Mumbai, an honorary position. In 1991, he was awarded Padma Bhushan from the Government of India. In 1997, Kumar was awarded, Nishan-e-Imtiaz, a high civilian award conferred by the Government of Pakistan.

He received in 1997 the NTR National Award. He was also awarded CNN-IBN Indian of the Year - Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. From some years large section of his fan and people in general are demanding Bharat Ratna for Kumar.

Dilip Kumar married actress and beauty queen Saira Banu in year 1966 when he was aged 44 and she was 22. Dilip Kumar secretly married a pakistani woman Asma in the early eighties but divorced her when Saira Banu refused to accept the marriage. His brothers are Nasir Khan, Ehsan Khan and Aslam Khan. Kumar's younger brother Nasir Khan was also an actor and appeared opposite him in Ganga Jamuna (1961) and Bairaag (1976)