Mohammed Yusuf Khan, more known by his professional name, Dilip Kumar, was an Indian film actor, producer, and politician. He was born on December 11, 1922, and lived a full and accomplished life before recently passing away at the ripe age of 98.
Before passing, Kumar left a rich legacy of more than 150 movies and numerous awards for acting. He is known by various monikers such as the ‘Tragedy King‘ for his distinct performances in serious roles. He is also very popular as the ‘First Khan‘ in Bollywood. To this day, he is just about the most popular method actor in Indian cinema because of his trademark portrayal of expressive emotions. He is credited as the one who introduced this unique type of acting method to India.
In his long career that spanned more than 50 years, Kumar received recognition in more than 60 films. He won eight Filmfare Awards for Best Actor for the following movies: Daag, Devdas, Azaad, Kohinoor, Naya Daur, Leader, Shakti and Ram Aur Shyam. Unfortunately, the 1970s brought some bad luck in Kumar’s acting career, with several consecutive box office failures. This led him to take a 5-year acting break, after which he had a very successful comeback with the revolutionary film called Kranti in 1981. It became the top-performing film at the box office that year.
Kumar has also received several highly prestigious awards for his rich contributions to Indian cinema. In 2015, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, which is the second-highest civilian award in India. In 2009, CNN-IBN gave him the ‘Indian of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award‘, and in 2008, he received the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award‘ from the former president of India, Pratibha Patil.
Dilip Kumar grew up in Peshawar, in the Northwest Frontier Province of British India, which is now known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. He lived with his mother, his (fruit merchant) father, and his five brothers and six sisters.
Kumar studied at the Barnes School in Deolali and was good friends with Raj Kapoor, who would eventually also become an actor in the Indian film community. In 1940, Kumar tried to follow in his father’s footsteps by putting up a canteen and a dry fruit supply store in Pune, which is what his father wanted. However, acting was his true passion. It is said that the reason he used a screen name is because his father was not supportive of his acting career.
During his youth, Kumar had a long-term relationship with actress Madhubala, with whom he frequently worked in movies. On October 11, 1966, Kumar married actress Saira Banu. The legendary actor had no children.
The Last Years
Kumar had been suffering from a serious case of prostate cancer for several years before finally succumbing due to several complications of the disease and weakness due to old age. A month before he passed away, Kumar had experienced severe difficulty in breathing, prompting his family to bring him to the hospital on two separate occasions. He took his last breath in the Khar Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai at half past seven in the morning of July 7, 2021.
Ten Most Notable Films
Out of more than 150 films Dilip Kumar has acted in, either in a starring or supporting role, there are too many worthy of recognition. But if we are to pick the ten most notable films of this legendary actor, here is the list we have come up with…
Although the year 1944 was not very remarkable in terms of achievements or earnings, it is undoubtedly one of Dilip’s most notable films because this is where he debuted as an actor. He played the role of Jagdish, a travelling musician who has an encounter with Renu, the female lead of this movie. This film was directed by Amiya Chakraborty and starred Shamin, Mridula Rani, and Aga Jaan.
If Dilip’s first movie is on the list, so is his last. Qila was filmed and released in 1998 when Dilip had already passed his 75th birthday. It is a drama that required Dilip to play the dual role of twins Jagannath Singh and Amamath Singh. The film was directed by Umesh Mehra and also starred huge names like Mukul Dev, Smita Jaykar and Rekha.
Directed by Ramesh Sippy, this 1982 Dilip Kumar starrer is considered one of the greatest Indian movies ever made. It is the only film that put together Kumar and another Bollywood legend, Amitabh Bachchan. It did not perform commercially at the box office, but it did win four major Filmfare Awards, including Best Sound Editing, Best Screenplay, and Best Film. Of course, Kumar also took the Best Actor award.
This 1952 movie is the very first Indian film that came out in Technicolor. Mehboob Khan was both the film’s producer and director. Dilip Kumar starred in the movie, alongside Prem Nath, Nimmi and Nadira. He played the role of Jai Tilak, a commoner who was brave enough to challenge King Shamsher Singh to put an end to his reign of terror. At the time it was released, it became the highest-grossing film in Bollywood. It was also released internationally in 28 countries and has subtitles in 17 languages. In the US and the UK, this film had the working title of ‘The Savage Princess’.
In this action-adventure drama, Dilip Kumar played the role of Rana Vishwa Pratap Singh, a former police officer who ended up battling some of the most wanted terrorists in the country. In this 1986 film, Kumar was partnered for the very first time with veteran Bollywood actress Nutan. This film was directed by Subhash Ghai, who had already previously worked with Kumar a few years back in the highly successful film, Vidhaata.
This 1991 film is yet another of several collaborations between Kumar and director Subhash Ghai. It is largely inspired by the Shakespeare play ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Another veteran Bollywood actor, Raaj Kumar, co-starred in the movie. The two top-ranked Indian actors had worked together more than three decades earlier in the 1959 film Paigham. Saudagar was an immensely successful film, winning the Filmfare Awards for Best Director and Best Editing. It was also nominated for Best Playback Singer, Best Music Director, Best Villain, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actor and Best Film.
This is the first appearance of Dilip Kumar with another Indian cinema big shot Raaj Kumar, who received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his splendid performance in his role. Paigham was a massive success at the box office, placing second overall for the year. Dilip Kumar played the role of Ratan, one of three children of the widow, Mrs Lal. The movie follows the family’s life as they experience one setback after another until they are blacklisted in the community. The other actors in the film were Vyjayanthimala, Saroja Devi B., Johnny Walker, Pandari Bai and Motilal.
This 1976 film is one of the most remarkable ones that Dilip Kumar has done in his career because it involved playing three different roles. The first role is that of Kailash, a man who becomes blind following a car accident. He eventually has twin sons, Bholenath and Sanjay, and he played those two roles as well. Kumar received a Filmfare nomination for Best Actor for this, particularly challenging role. The film also won the Filmfare Award for Best Sound and was nominated for Best Music. Incidentally, Kumar was also one of the co-writers for the film.
Released in 1955, Azaad is a Hindi action-comedy flick and is one of the earlier starring roles of Kumar. It was the highest-earning film for the year, and it also won Kumar his third Filmfare Award. He played the role of Azaad, a wealthy man notorious for being a bandit who gets caught in a love affair with the leading lady of the film, Shobha. This film was directed by S. M. Sriramulu Naidu and is a remake of the director’s Tamil film called Malaikkailan that was released just the year before. It also stars Meena Kumari, Pran, and Raj Mehra.
Dil Diya Dard Liya
This 1966 film was inspired by the massive success of the English novel ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. Dilip Kumar and Abdul Rashid Kardar co-directed this film, which also stars Waheeda Rehman, Shyama, Pran, Rehman and Johnny Walker. The story is a combination of romance, drama and music. This Indian adaptation of the foreign novel earned Kumar a Filmfare award and also won Pran the Best Supporting Actor award.