Dilip Kumar in 2006
|Born||Muhammad Yusuf Khan
11 December 1922
Peshawar, North-West Frontier Province, British India
(now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan)
|Residence||Mumbai, Maharashtra, India|
|Spouse(s)||Saira Banu (1966–present)
|Awards||Padma Vibhushan 2015
Padma Bhushan 1991
Dilip Kumar (born Muhammad Yusuf Khan on 11 December 1922) is an Indian film actor also known as Tragedy King, and described as "the ultimate method actor" by Satyajit Ray. He debuted as an actor in the film Jwar Bhata in 1944 produced by Bombay Talkies. His career has spanned over six decades and with over 60 films. 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).
Dilip Kumar has acted with actress Vyjayanthimala the most, where they both had acted seven films together including the former's home production Gunga Jamuna resulting in great on-screen chemistry and an alleged affair between them.
In 1976, Dilip Kumar took a five-year break from film performances and returned with a character role in the film Kranti (1981) and continued his career playing leading roles in films such as Shakti (1982), Karma (1986) and Saudagar (1991). His last film was Qila (1998). .
He is the first recipient of Filmfare Best Actor Award (1954) and still holds the record for the most number of Filmfare awards won for that category with eight wins. Critics acclaimed him among one of the greatest actors in the history of Hindi cinema.
The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan award in 1991, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2015 for his contributions towards Indian cinema and nominated him to Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian parliament for a term.
Dilip Kumar was born Yusuf Khan into a Hindko-speaking Awan family of 12 children on 11 December 1922 at his house in the Qissa Khawani Bazaar area of Peshawar, in what is now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. His father, Lala Ghulam Sarwar, was a landlord and fruit merchant who owned orchards in Peshawar and Deolali (in Maharashtra, India). Dilip Kumar did schooling from prestigious Barnes School, Deolali, near Nasik. In the late 1930s, his family of 12 members relocated to Mumbai.
Around 1940, while still in his teens and after an altercation with his father, Dilip Kumar left home for Pune. With the help of an Iranian cafe owner, and an elderly Anglo-Indian couple, Kumar met a canteen contractor Taj Mohammad Shah, an acquaintance of his father from Peshawar days. Without letting on his family antecedents, he got the job on the merit of his knowledge of good written and spoken English. He managed to set up a sandwich stall at the army club and when the contract ended he headed home to Bombay having saved Rs. 5000. In 1942, anxious to start some venture to help out his father with household finances, he met Dr. Masani at Churchgate Station, who asked him to accompany him to Bombay Talkies, in Malad. Here he met actress Devika Rani, owner of Bombay Talkies, who asked him to sign up with the company on a pay of Rs. 1250 per month. Here he met actor Ashok Kumar who was to influence his acting style telling him to act "natural". He also met Sashadhar Mukherjee, and both these people became very close to Kumar over the years. Initially, Kumar helped out in the story-writing and scripting department because of his proficiency in Urdu language. Devika Rani requested he change his name from Yousuf to Dilip Kumar, and later cast him in a lead role for the film Jwar Bhata (1944), which marked Dilip Kumar's entry into the Hindi film industry.
Dilip Kumar's first film, Jwar Bhata (1944) went unnoticed, it was Jugnu (1947) in which he starred alongside Noor Jehan that became his first major hit at the box office. His next major hit was the 1948 film Shaheed. He got his breakthrough role with Mehboob Khan's Andaz (1949) in which he starred alongside Raj Kapoor and Nargis in a love triangle story. Shabnam also released that year was also a hit.
He went on to have success in the 1950s with playing leading roles in romantic films like Jogan (1950), Tarana (1951) Hulchul (1951) Deedar (1951), Daag (1952), Devdas (1955), Yahudi (1958) and Madhumati (1958). He also played an anti-hero in Mehboob Khan's Amar (1954). These films established his screen image as the "Tragedy King". He also starred in many social drama films like Footpath (1953), Naya Daur (1957), Musafir (1957) and Paigham (1959). He was the first actor to win the Filmfare Best Actor Award for Daag and went onto win it a further seven times in his career. He formed popular on-screen pairings with many of the top actresses at the time including Madhubala, Vyjayanthimala, Nargis, Nimmi, Meena Kumari, and Kamini Kaushal. In an attempt to shed his "tragedy king" image, Dilip Kumar took up his psychiatrist's suggestion that he take on lighthearted roles. In Mehboob Khan's blockbuster musical Aan (1952) he played a swashbuckling peasant in what marked his first film in technicolor. He had further success with lighter roles as a thief in Azaad (1955) and a royal prince in Kohinoor (1960) In 1960 he portrayed Prince Salim in K. Asif's big-budget epic historical film Mughal-e-Azam which as of 2008 was the second highest grossing film in Hindi film history. The film told the story of Prince Salim who revolts against his father Akbar (played by Prithviraj Kapoor) and falls in love with a courtesan (played by Madhubala). The film was mostly shot in black and white, only some scenes in the latter half of the film in colour. 44 years after its original release, it was fully colourized and re-released in 2004.
In 1961 he produced and starred in Ganga Jamuna in which he starred opposite his frequent leading lady, Vyjayanthimala and his brother Nasir Khan, this was the only film he produced. In 1962 British director David Lean offered him the role of "Sherif Ali" in his film Lawrence of Arabia (1962), but Dilip Kumar declined to perform in the movie. The role eventually went to Omar Sharif, the Egyptian actor. Dilip Kumar comments in his much later released autobiography, "he thought Omar Sharif had played the role far better than he himself could have". His next film Leader (1964) was a below average grosser at the box office. He was the co-director alongside Abdul Rashid Kardar of his next release Dil Diya Dard Liya in 1966 but was uncredited as director. In 1967 Kumar played a dual role of twins separated at birth in the hit film Ram Aur Shyam. In 1968 he starred alongside Manoj Kumar and Waheeda Rehman in Aadmi.
His career slumped in the 1970s with films like Dastaan (1972) and Bairaag (1976), the latter in which he played triple roles failing at the box office. He starred alongside his real-life wife Saira Banu in Gopi (1970), Bengali film Sagina Mahato (1970) and Bairaag (1976) but all three failed to do well at the box office. He took a five-year hiatus from films from 1976 to 1981.
In 1981, he returned to films with the multi-starrer Kranti which was the biggest hit of the year. Appearing alongside an ensemble cast including Manoj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini and Shatrughan Sinha, he played the title role as a revolutionary fighting for India's independence from British rule. He then formed a successful collaboration with Subhash Ghai starting with Vidhaata (1982) in which he starred alongside Sanjay Dutt, Sanjeev Kumar and Shammi Kapoor. Later that year he starred alongside the reigning superstar of the time Amitabh Bachchan in Ramesh Sippy's Shakti for which he won yet another Filmfare Award for Best Actor. In 1984 he starred in Yash Chopra's Mashaal and Ramesh Talwar's Duniya opposite Anil Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor respectively.
His second collaboration with Subhash Ghai came with the 1986 action film Karma. In this film, Kumar played a jailor who hires three men (played by Naseeruddin Shah, Jackie Shroff and Anil Kapoor) to help him avenge his family's death by escaped terrorist Doctor Dang (played by Anupam Kher). This was also the first film which paired him opposite veteran actress Nutan.
In 1991, he starred alongside fellow veteran actor Raaj Kumar in Saudagar, his third and last film with Subhash Ghai. This was his second film with Raaj Kumar after 1959's Paigham. Saudagar was Kumar's last box office success and also his last film for several years. In 1993 he won the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. He was attached to make his directorial debut with a film titled Kalinga but the film was eventually shelved.
In 1998 he made his last film appearance in Qila, where he played dual roles as an evil landowner who is murdered and his twin brother who tries to solve the mystery of his death.
In 2001 he was set to appear in a film titled Asar — The Impact alongside Ajay Devgan which was shelved. His films Mughal-e-Azam and Naya Daur were fully colorized and re-released in 2004 and 2008 respectively.
Other career highlights
- 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 and Sangam.
- Several of his films remain unreleased and unfinished such as Jaanwar, Shikwa and Aag Ka Dariya.
- During his career, Kumar was most often voiced by Mohammed Rafi. Others who provided his voice were Talat Mahmood, Mukesh (until 1958) and Kishore Kumar was chosen to playback the song "Saala Main To Saab Bangaya" for the film Sagina (film) (1974).
He was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994. In 1998 he was awarded the Nishan-e-Pakistan, the highest civilian award conferred by the government of Pakistan. He is the second Indian to receive the award. At the time of the Kargil War, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray demanded Dilip Kumar return his Nishan-e-Imtiaz, citing "that country's blatant aggression on Indian soil." Dilip Kumar refused, saying:
"This award was given to me for the humane activities to which I have dedicated myself. I have worked for the poor, I have worked for many years to bridge the cultural and communal gaps between India and Pakistan. Politics and religion have created these boundaries. I have striven to bring the two people together in whatever way I could. Tell me, what does any of this have to do with the Kargil conflict?"
Dilip Kumar was first in love with the actress Kamini Kaushal, but they could not marry due to her being married to her deceased sister's husband. Subsequently, he was also in love with the actress Madhubala but they had to part ways as her family was opposed to their marriage. Vyjayanthimala, was Dilip Kumar's third love; they have denied any rumours of an affair. He married actress Saira Banu, who was 22 years younger than him, in 1966. He married a second time in 1980 to Asma but the marriage ended soon after. Dilip Kumar for first time in his life undertook a pilgrimage to Mecca in 2013 along with his wife Saira Banu 
Around 10 September 2011 it surfaced that the health of Dilip Kumar is worsening. Some tweets even mistakenly spread news of his death. Later Saira Banu made a public statement that the actor is in good health and in high spirits. On 15 September 2013, the 90-year-old Dilip Kumar suffered a silent Heart attack and was subsequently admitted to Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai. On 16 September, a Hospital statement said that his condition was stable and he was put under observation in ICU for 48 hours due to his bypass status and advanced age. He had undergone heart surgery 14 years before. In December 2014, Dilip Kumar was hospitalized for pneumonia and admitted to Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai under ICU.
Awards and popularity
Dilip Kumar is widely considered as one of the greatest actors in the history of Hindi cinema. He holds the Guinness World Record for winning 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 Filmfare nominations. He was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.
Dilip Kumar was appointed Sheriff of Mumbai (an honorary position) in 1980, the Government of India honoured Kumar with the Padma Bhushan in 1991, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2015. The Government of Andhra Pradesh honoured Kumar with NTR National Award in 1997. The Government of Pakistan conferred Kumar with Nishan-e-Imtiaz, the highest civilian award in Pakistan, in 1997. The ruling political party of Shiv Sena in Maharashtra had objected on this award and questioned Kumar's patriotism. However, in 1999 in consultation with the then Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Kumar retained the award. He was honored with CNN-IBN Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
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