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Dilip Kumar – Peking Opera Blues

Dilip Kumar


Personal Info

  • Birth Name: Yusuf Khan
  • Height: 5' 10" (1.78 m)


Dilip Kumar is considered to be one of the greatest actors of Indian cinema. Starting his career in 1944, he has starred in some of the biggest commercially successful films in the period 1949-1961. . He was the first actor to receive a Filmfare Best Actor Award and holds the record for most number of Filmfare Awards won for that category. Though he has done films of other genres occasionally like – he balanced out with roles such as the intense Andaz (1949) with the swashbuckling Aan (1952), the dramatic Devdas (1955) with the comical Azaad (1955) and the historical romance Mughal E Azam (1960) with the social Ganga Jamuna (1961), he pre-dominantly specialized in doing love stories or tragic roles from 1944-1961. From late 1960s roles dried up for Kumar as films starring Dev Anand, Rajendra Kumar and Shammi Kapoor were more successful from 1961-1969 and also Dilip’s films from 1966 to 1976 were box office flops like Dil Diya Dard Liya, Sunghursh, Aadmi, Dastaan, Gopi, Sagina and Bairaag and after 1976 he left films for a five year break. After Rajesh Khanna became first superstar of Indian Cinema in 1969, most of the author backed lead roles from 1969-1991, went to Rajesh Khanna. In 1981 Dilip returned with a character role at insistence of Manoj Kumar in the blockbuster film Kranti and continued his career playing central character roles in multi-hero films such as Shakti (1982), Karma (1986), Vidhaata, Mazdoor, Mashaal, Duniya, Dharm Adhikari, Kanoon Apna Apna, Izzatdaar, Saudagar (1991), Qila. But his only films to be successful from 1981 at box office were Kranti, Vidhaata, Karma, Dharm Adhikari, Kanoon Apna Apna and Saudagar. He has retired from the Indian Film Industry in 1998. He was born Muhammad Yusuf Khan in Qissa Khawani Bazaar in Peshawar Pakistan in a Hindko speaking Awan family of twelve children. His father Ghulam Sarwar was a fruit merchant and owned large orchards in Peshawar and Devlali in Maharashtra near Mumbai. The family relocated to Mumbai in 1930s and in the early 1940s Yusuf Khan moved to Pune and started off with his canteen business and supplying dry fruits. There he was spotted by a leading actress of those years Devika Rani who was also the wife of the founder of Bombay Talkies Himanshu Rai and helped his entry into the Bollywood film industry. She also gave him the screen name of Dilip Kumar. His first film Jwar Bhata, was released in 1944 which went unnoticed and his next 2 films Pratima (1945),Naukadubi (1947) were box office flops. In 1947 he shot to prominence with the film Jugnu which was his first major hit and followed it up with successful Shaheed (1948) and thereby became a star.His next release Ghar Ki Izzat(1948) was box office flop. He fell in love with Kamini Kaushal and their on-screen paid was a hit with audience. Kamini Kaushal-Dilip Kumar gave hits like Shaheed(1948), Nadiya Ke Paar (1948),Shabnam (1949), Arzoo (1950). Kamini Kaushal was a bigger star than Dilip Kumar even before they did their first film Shaheed(1948) as a pair, since Kamini had 4 hits to her name already and Dilip had a crush on her ever since her first film Neecha Nagar became a hit in 1946. In 1949, he co-starred with the then struggling actor-director Raj Kapoor, who had a flop in Aag as a director and had 11 flops as an actor before this film, in the romantic melodrama film Andaz, which went to become a huge success and made him a star. Throughout the 1950s he was one of the biggest stars of Bollywood along with Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. Dev Anand, who had 3 flops from 1946-47, became a star when Ziddi became a hit in 1948 and Raj Kapoor’s fortune as an actor changed when Andaz became a hit in 1949.Thus among the trio, first to become a star was Dilip Kumar and then second was Dev Anand and then Raj Kapoor. Dilip became known for playing tragic love story roles in hit films such as Nadiya Ke Paar (1948), Mela (1948), Andaz (1949), Jogan (1950), Babul (1950), Arzoo (1950), Deedar (1951), Tarana (1951), Deedar (1951), Daag (1952), Shikast (1953) which earned him the title of “Tragedy King”. . Some of his most famous films in tragic roles were box office flops like Amar (1954), Devdas (1955), Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966) and Aadmi (1968). Madhumati (1958) gave him Filmfare Award for Best Actor. With Nargis he had 5 hits like Mela (1948),Andaz (1949),Jogan (1950),Babul (1950),Deedar (1951) and 2 flops like Anokha Pyar (1948),Hulchul (1951). In 1951, Kamini Kaushal-Dilip Kumar affair ended. The pair of Madhubala-Dilip Kumar had a hit in Tarana(1951) and 2 flops in Sangdil (1952) and Amar (1954) but the couple fell in love with each-other while working in Amar(1954).Later Madhubala and Dilip Kumar broke up in 1957, while working in Mughal -E-Azam but being professionals did work together to complete the film,which took years to finish and got released in 1960. From 1952-1961, he had hits like Daag (1952), Aan (1953) and Uran Khatola (1955) with Nimmi, Shikast (1953) with Nalini Jaywant, Foot Path (1953),Azaad (1955), Yahudi (1958) and Kohinoor (1960) with Meena Kumari, Insaniyat (1955) with Bina Rai,Naya Daur (1957),Madhumati (1958) and Ganga Jamuna (1960) with Vyjanthimala, Musafir (1957) with Suchitra Sen. From 1952-1962, his only flops were Sangdil (1952),Amar (1954),Devdas (1955). So this period of 1949-1961 is considered the peak period of Dilip Kumar’s career as a hero. He was also successful in playing lighthearted roles such as playing a swashbuckling peasant in Aan (1952) and a comic role in Azaad (1955). In 1960 he starred in the historical film Mughal-e-Azam opposite Madhubala, which is as of 2008, the third highest grossing film in Hindi film history inflation adjusted [behind Kismet(1943), Haathi Mere Saathi(1971) and ahead of Sholay(1975), Hum Aapke Hai Kaun(1994)] in which he played the role of the Mughal crown-prince Jehangir the son of Akbar. In 1961 he produced and starred in the hit Ganga Jamuna in which he and his real Life brother Nasir Khan played the title roles. Despite the film success he did not produce any film after this but gave away the script for its Tamil version Iru Dhruvam starring Sivaji Ganesan. Dilip had a narrow brush with international fame in 1962 when British director David Lean offered him the role of Sherif Ali in his 1962 film, Lawrence of Arabia. However Kumar declined the part citing its a small role for a big hero like him. The role eventually went to Omar Sharif the Egyptian actor. His next films like the critically acclaimed Leader (1964) and critically panned Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966) which were huge box office flops but he bounced back when he played a dual role of twins separated at birth in the film Ram Aur Shyam (1967) which was one of the biggest box office hits of the year. But again his next releases Aadmi (1968),Sunghursh (1968) flopped and Dilip Kumar’s acting career as a hero ended as most of the roles which he would have got went to the first Superstar of Indian Cinema – Rajesh Khanna from 1969-1991. In the period 1969-1976 the career of most of the actors like Rajendra Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor as the hero ended with emergence of Rajesh Khanna. Many of Kumar’s films like Sunghursh (1968),Aadmi (1968),Dastaan (1972),Gopi (1973),Sagina (1974), Bairaag(1976) failed at the box office during this period and after the release of his 1976 film Bairaag in which he played triple roles, he took retirement as the hero. But Manoj Kumar ensured that Dilip Kumar made a comeback and put an end to a five year break from acting but offering a role in Kranti in 1981. Initially Dilip Kumar was hesitant to do the role, but Maoj Kumar convinced him to make a comeback.People preferred to cast Rajesh Khanna or Sanjeev Kumar in the solo lead hero films instead of casting Dilip Kumar in the period 1966 to 1987. He made a comeback in 1981 with the multi-starer Kranti which was the biggest hit of the year. He went onto play character roles as an elderly family patriarch or a police officer in films like Shakti (1982), Karma (1986), Vidhaata, Mazdoor, Mashaal, Duniya, Dharm Adhikari, Kanoon Apna Apna, Izzatdaar, Saudagar (1991), Qila. But his only films to be successful from 1981 at box office were Kranti, Vidhaata, Karma, Dharm Adhikari, Kanoon Apna Apna and Saudagar. In his last major successful film, Saudagar (1991) he appeared alongside another legendary actor Raaj Kumar after three decades since they last appeared together in Paigham (1959). In 1992 he won the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1996 he was supposed to make his directorial debut with a film titled Kalinga, with him and Rajesh Khanna in the lead, but the film was shelved. In 1998 he made his last film appearance to date in the box office flop Qila where in a rare form he played a villainous role. He has since retired from the film industry due to his indifferent health. Dilip Kumar’s younger brother Nasir Khan was also an actor and appeared opposite Dilip in Ganga Jamuna (1961) and Bairaag (1976) as well as acted as hero in 22 films from 1948-1961, but 17 were flops. Thus Nasir’s career was not as successful and he died in 1974. Nasir Khan’s son Ayub Khan is also an actor in the industry. Nasir Khan’s wife was 1950s actress Begum Para who made a comeback to films after 50 years in the film Saawariya in 2007 in supporting role. Dilip Kumar married actress and “beauty queen” Saira Banu in 1966 when he was aged 44 and she was 22. At the time, gossip columnists predicted doom for the high-profile couple, but the union has been one of the longest lasting marriages in Bollywood.