Dilip Kumar, the Devdas of the Fifties, was emotive, handsome and had that certain X factor that made him the brightest star of his time.
Muhammed Yusuf Khan took on the name Dilip Kumar as his screen name. He was born on 11th December 1922 in Peshawar which is now part of Pakistan. He was born into a Pashtun family and was one of twelve children. One of his brothers Nasir Khan was also an actor and they worked together in Ganga Jamuna (1961) and Bairaag (1976). His father Ghulam Sarwar was a fruit merchant with orchards in Peshawar and Deolali in Maharashtra.
He started a canteen in Pune where he was noticed by the director Amiya Chakravarty. With Chakravarty and actress Devika Rani’s help, he entered the film industry after changing his name to Dilip Kumar.
Dilip Kumar was involved with actress Madhubala but they had to part ways as her family was opposed to their marriage. He married actress Saira Banu who was two decades younger than him in 1966. He married a second time in 1980 to Asma but the marriage ended soon after.
Dilip Kumar has been actively involved in charity work. He has been awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1994) and Nishan-e-Pakistan by the Pakistani Government in 1998. He entered politics in 2000 and was a Member of Parliament.
1944 to 1949 Dilip Kumar made his debut with Amiya Chakravarty’s Jwar Bhata (1944) as a wandering musician. He appeared in Pratima (1945) and Milan (1947). Jugnu (1947) was his first major success.
He worked in several movies the following year among which were Shahid (1948), which was about India’s freedom struggle and starred Kamini Kaushal with whom he was romantically linked off-screen too and Mela (1948) with Nargis. Andaz (1949) was the first and last movie in which he worked with Raj Kapoor.
1950 to 1959 The early fifties saw the release of movies like Arzoo (1950), Deedar (1952), Aan (1952) and Footpath (1953). In 1955, he commanded applause for his performance in Bimal Roy’s Devdas with Suchitra Sen and Vyjayanthimala.
Naya Daur (1957) was a commercial and critical success. The movie was also in the news as the director B.R. Chopra took legal action against actress Madhubala as she was signed up as the lead but backed out when her relationship with Dilip Kumar came to an end.
1960 to 1976 Dilip Kumar’s next role as Prince Salim in Mughal-e-Azam (1960) was another one of his memorable performances and the movie was one of the high grossers of Bollywood. He produced and acted in Ganga Jamuna with his brother Nasir Khan.
After a bad spell at the box office, he had a hit with Ram Aur Shyam (1967). A few more movies later, he took a long sabbatical after his 1976 release Bairaag.
1981 to 1989 Manoj Kumar’s Kranti was his comeback movie in 1981. It was a multi starrer with Hema Malini, Shashi Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha and Parveen Babi. It was one of the biggest movies of the eighties.
He played Sanjay Dutt’s father in Subash Ghai’s Vidhaata and joined Amitabh Bacchan in Ramesh Sippy’s Shakti winning the Filmfare Best Movie Award. Dilip Kumar and Nutan came together in Subash Ghai’s Karma (1986).
1990 to 1999 The year 1991 saw Dilip Kumar in Saudaghar with Rajkumar. The movie was about two feuding families. He was seen again in Qila (1998) which is his last movie to date. He played a negative role. The movie subsequently did not fare well.
Dilip Kumar received the Filmfare Best Actor Award for Daag, Azaad, Devdas, Naya Daur, Kohinoor, Leader, Ram Aur Shyam and Shakti. He was the first actor who won the Filmfare Best Actor Award. He also had a record number of nominations and wins. He won the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.