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Dilip Kumar

Dilip Kumar at office (2006).
Born Yusuf Khan
December 11, 1922 (1922-12-11) (age 87)
Peshawar, British India
Other name(s) Dilip Sahaab
Tragedy King
Occupation Actor, Producer, Director, Politician
Years active 1944 - 1998 (Retired)
Spouse(s) Saira Banu (1966-present)

Yusuf Khan (Hindi: यूसुफ़ ख़ान) (born 11 December 1922), popularly known as Dilip Kumar (Hindi: दिलीप कुमार) is an Indian film actor and a former Member of Parliament. He lives in Pali Hill in the Mumbai suburb of Bandra.

Starting his career in 1944, Kumar has starred in some of the most commercially successful films of the late 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1980s. 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. He starred in a wide variety of roles such as the romantic Andaz (1949), the swashbuckling Aan (1952), the dramatic Devdas (1955), the comical Azaad (1955), the historical romance Mughal E Azam (1960) and the social Ganga Jamuna (1961). In the 1970s roles dried up for Kumar and he left film in 1976 for a five-year break. In 1981 he returned with a character role in the blockbuster film Kranti and continued his career playing central character roles in hits such as Shakti (1982), Karma (1986) and Saudagar (1991) his last film was Qila in 1998.


Early life

Dilip Kumar was born Muhammad Yusuf Khan at Mohallah Khudadad, on the back of Qissa Khwani Bazaar in Peshawar, North West Frontier Province, British India (part of Pakistan since 1947). He was born to a Hindko-speaking family of Afghan origin with twelve children. His father, Lala Ghulam Sarwar, was a fruit merchant who owned large orchards in Peshawar and Deolali in Maharashtra near Nashik. The family relocated to Mumbai in the 1930s and in the early 1940s Yusuf Khan moved to Pune and started a canteen business and supplying dried fruits.

In 1943, actress Devika Rani, who was also the wife of the founder of the Bombay Talkies film studio, Himanshu Rai, helped Khan's entry into the Bollywood film industry. Amiya Chakraborty gave him the screen name Dilip Kumar and gave him the leading role in his film Jwar Bhata (1944). Devika and her husband Svetoslav Roerich spotted the young and smart-looking Khan in one of Pune's Aundh military canteens.


His first film with Nisar Bhai and Hamed Bhai Jwar Bhata was released in 1944 and went unnoticed. In 1947 he shot to prominence working with the legendary singer and actress Noor Jahan, who agreed to act opposite him in the film Jugnu. In 1949, he co-starred with Raj Kapoor in the romantic melodrama Andaz, which made him a star and in 1955 he co-starred with Dev Anand in Insaniyat. Throughout the 1950s he was one of the biggest stars of Bollywood along with Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. He became known for playing tragic roles in popular films such as Deedar (1951), Amar (1954), Devdas (1955) and Madhumati (1958), which earned him the title of "tragedy king".

He also played lighthearted roles such as a swashbuckling peasant in Aan (1952) and a comic role in Azaad (1955). In 1960 he starred in the historical film Mughal-e-Azam which as of 2008 was the second highest grossing film in Hindi film history[1]. 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's success he did not produce any films after this. In 1962 British director David Lean offered him the role of Sherif Ali in his 1962 blockbuster, Lawrence of Arabia, but Kumar declined the part. The role eventually went to Omar Sharif, the Egyptian actor. After a brief period of box office flops in the mid 1960s, 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. The success of Ram Aur Shyam spawned a number of remakes and imitators.

In the 1970s Kumar acted in fewer films as newer actors such as Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan had begun to take the spotlight. The 1976 film Bairaag in which he played triple roles flopped badly, so he took a five year break from acting.

He made a comeback in 1981 with the multi-starrer Kranti, the biggest hit of the year. He went onto play character roles as an elderly family patriarch or a police officer in a string of box office hits including Shakti (1982) (in which he starred alongside the reigning superstar of the time Amitabh Bachchan), Vidhaata (1982), Mashaal (1984) and Karma (1986). In his last major film, Saudagar (1991), he appeared alongside another legendary actor Raaj Kumar, three decades after they last appeared together in Paigham (1959). In 1993 he won the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 1996 he was attached to make his directorial debut with a film titled Kalinga but the film was shelved. In 1998 he made his last film appearance in the box office flop Qila. His classic film Mughal-E-Azam was fully colorized in 2004 and re-released, doing well at the box office. Another of his classic films, Naya Daur, was colorized and released in August 2007.

He remains one of the last surviving actors from the golden era of Bollywood in the 1940s and 1950s along with Pran and Dev Anand.The veteran actress Asha Parekh has commented that she did not like Dilip Kumar and hence she did not work with him.

Public life

Kumar has been active in efforts to bring the people of India and Pakistan closer together. He has been a member of the upper house of Parliament since 2000 and is known for his extensive charity work.

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; the first was former Indian prime minister Morarji Desai. At the time of the Kargil War, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray demanded Kumar return his Nishan-e-Pakistan, arguing that "He must return Nishan-e-Imtiaz following that country's blatant aggression on Indian soil."[2]. 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?"[3]

Personal life

Dilip Kumar with Annadurai, MGR, Karunanidhi, EVK Sampath at the inauguration of the N.S.Krishnan's statue in Chennai

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.

Kumar's younger brother Nasir Khan was also an actor and appeared opposite him in Ganga Jamuna (1961) and Bairaag (1976). His career was not as successful. Nasir Khan's wife was 1950s actress Begum Para who made a comeback to films after 50 years in the film Saawariya in 2007. Nasir's son Ayub Khan, who is nephew of Dilip Kumar is also an actor and works in films and Television serials.

The actress Madhubala worked with Kumar in Tarana in 1951, and they formed a close friendship. They were rumoured to be romantically connected,[4][5] and she accompanied Kumar to the premiere of his film Insaniyat.[6] Their friendship ended acrimoniously when director B.R. Chopra wanted Kumar and Madhubala to travel to Bhopal for an extended period to shoot Naya Daur. Her father refused to allow her to go, so Chopra replaced her with Vyjayanthimala and the dispute ended up in court.[7][8][9]


Kumar has received many awards throughout his career, including 8 Filmfare Award for Best Actor awards and 19 nominations. He was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992. The Government of India honoured him with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994 - the highest award for cinematic excellence in India. In 1980, he was appointed Sheriff of Mumbai, an honorary position. In 1991, he was awarded Padma Bhushan from the Government of India. In 1997, Kumar was awarded, Nishan-e-Pakistan, Pakistan's highest civilian award.

He received in 1997 the NTR National Award. He was also awarded CNN-IBN Indian of the Year - Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.


Acting filmography
Jwar Bhata (1944) Jagdish
Pratima (1945)
Milan (1947) Ramesh
Jugnu (1947) Sooraj
Shaheed (1948) Ram
Nadiya Ke Paar (1948)
Mela (1948) Mohan
Ghar Ki Izzat (1948) Chanda
Anokha Pyar (1948) Ashok
Shabnam (1949) Manoj
Andaz (1949) Dilip
Jogan (1950) Vijay
Babul (1950) Ashok
Arzoo (1950) Badal
Tarana (1951) Motilal
Hulchul (1951) Kishore
Deedar (1951) Shamu
Sangdil (1952) Shankar
Daag (1952) Shankar
Aan (1952) Jai Tilak
Shikast (1953) Dr. Ram Singh
Footpath (1953) Noshu
Amar (1954) Amarnath
Udan Khatola (1955)
Insaniyat (1955)
Devdas (1955) Devdas
Azaad (1955)
Naya Daur (1957) Shankar
Musafir (1957)
Yahudi (1958) Prince Marcus
Madhumati (1958) Anand/ Deven
Paigham (1959) Ratan Lal
Kohinoor (1960)
Mughal-E-Azam (1960) Prince Salim
Gunga Jumna (1961) Gunga
Leader (1964) Vijay Khanna
Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966) Sahnkar/Rajasaheb
Ram Aur Shyam (1967) Ram/ Shyam
Sunghursh (1968)
Sadhu Aur Shaitan (1968)
Aadmi (1968) Rajesh/ Raja Saheb
Sagina Mahato (1970)
Gopi (1970) Gopi
Daastan (1972) Anil/Sunil
Anokha Milan (1972)
Sagina (1974)
Phir Kab Milogi (1974)
Bairaag (1976)
Kranti (1981) Sanga/Kranti
Vidhaata (1982) Shamsher Singh
Shakti (1982) Ashvini Kumar
Mazdoor (1983) Dinanath Saxena
Duniya (1984) Mohan Kumar
Mashaal (1984) Vinod Kumar
Dharam Adhikari (1986)
Karma (1986) Vishwanath Pratab Singh aka Rana
Kanoon Apna Apna (1989)
Izzatdaar (1990) Brahmadutt
Aag Ka Dariya (1990)
Saudagar (1991) Thakur Veer Singh
Qila (1998) Jaganath/Amarnath Singh

Incomplete / un-released films

  • Bank Manager (Director & Producer RC Talwar)
  • Taj Mahal (Director & Producer K. Asif)
  • Akhri Mughal (Director & Producer K. Asif)
  • Har Singhar (Director Kabir Khan & Producer 'Asitya Chopra' )
  • Shikwa (Director AR Murgadoss & Producer Yash Chopra)
  • Janwar (Director & Producer K. Asif)
  • Kidnap(Director Sanjay Gadhvi & Producer Kishore Kumar)
  • Kalinga (Producer Sudhakar Bokade Director Dilip Kumar)
  • Aag Ka Darya (Director Rajindar Singh Babu & Producer Premaliya)
  • Asr (Director Kuku Kohli)
  • Kala Aadmi (Director & Producer Nasir Hussain)


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ Gangadhar, V. (30 May 2003). "Love, romance and intrigue...". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  5. ^ Kaur, Devinder Bir (15 June 2003). "A larger-than-life filmmaker". Sunday Tribune (India). Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  6. ^ "A beauty and joy forever". Screenindia. 1 February 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  7. ^ Patel, Bhaichand (8 April 2002). "The Methodist". Outlook India. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  8. ^ "Up Close and Closer". India Express. 4 January 2004. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  9. ^ "In the name of the father". Screen India. 15 October 2004. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 

External links



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