Dilip Kumar: A Legend worth his name

Dilip KumarBorn to a Muslim fruit coppice owner, Dilip Kumar was originally named Muhammad Yusuf Khan. Hailing from Peshawar in present day Pakistan, young Muhammad and his family had shifted to Bombay. There his father did a lowly job of supplying dry fruits and dealt with the canteen business. It was by the help of the glamorous Devika Rani, by whose support Khan could get his entry into filmdom. The Hindi writer Bhagwati Charan Verma suggested Muhammad to change his screen name to Dilip Kumar. He also offered him his first lead role in the 1944 matinee” Jwar Bhata”. Although his debut film was not a commercial success, his first genuine success was in the film “Jugnu”.  Thereafter, he starred in numerous romantic tragedies and melodramas such as “Devdas” “Deedar”, “Daag”, “Andaaz” and many more. He was often nicknamed as the “tragedy king” because of the type of films he usually did. The milestone of his cinematic career was definitely, his portrayal of Prince Salim in the 1960 blockbuster “Mughal-E-Aazam”.

“Ganga Jamuna” released in 1961 was the first and last film, that he produced. He had also been offered the role of Sherif Ali in the film “Lawrence of Arabia”, but Dilip rejected the proposal. Dilip also acted in a string of flop films such as “Leader”, “Bairaag” and “Dastaan”. After his repeated failures, Dilip took a five year break from his work.  In 1981 he rejoined with his film “Kraanti” which proved to be a massive box- office success. Then the magnificent actor went on to produce a series of hits such as “Vidhaata”, “Mashaal”and”Karma”.  His final success was in the film”Saudagar” (1991) in which he starred alongside Raaj Kapoor. “Qila” was the last film in which the talented actor was last seen, it was not a commercial success.

Dilip Kumar is noted for his constant efforts in integrating and establishing peace between India and Pakistan. Among his many honours, Dilip Kumar was honoured with the Dada Sahib Phalke Award for his outstanding contribution to the Hindi film industry. He was also awarded the Filmfare award for Lifetime Achievement in 1993. Dilip Kumar was presented with the “Nishan-E-Pakistan” award for his humanitarian measures. He has also received the Padma Bhushan award.

Dilip married artiste and pageant winner Saira Banu in 1966 when he was forty four years of age and she was merely twenty two. Khan’s family also includes three brothers.