Dilip Kumar
Thursday, December 06, 2001 14:14 IST
By Santa Banta News Network

King of Tragedy, Dilip Kumar  was born in Peshawar (now Pakistan) as Yusuf Khan in a Pathan Family of 12 children who later moved to Maharashtra as fruit merchants. From being the assistant manager in an army canteen, he set up his own fruit stall.

In Bombay, he was given his first break by Devika Rani, who cast him as the hero of Bombay Talkies Jwar Bhatta (1944). He attained stardom with Jugnu (1947) opposite singing diva Noorjehan. The success of Mela (1948), a Devdas type of film set Dilip Kumar off in a chain of films were he played a doomed lover - Andaaz, which made him a superstar, Babul (1950), Jogan (1950), Deedar (1951), Udan Khatola (1955) and of course Devdas. But at times his heavy mannerisms acquired in his tragedy roles gave his characters a heavy-handedness that could be quite difficult to take - like in Devdas and particularly in the adaptation of Wuthering Heights - Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966).

Playing mostly serious roles however began to take its toll on him and on psychiatric advice he switched over to do more light-hearted musical films and what`s more actually appeared quite at home in them. (Azaad, and Kohinoor (1960)). Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and Ganga Jamuna (1961) marked the peak of Dilip Kumar`s career. But though his performance as Salim in the former has often been rated as among his best ever, he actually looks strangely uncomfortable in the film. Ganga Jamuna however was a flawless performance and perhaps the greatest of his career.

He married actress Saira Bano in 1966 and was absolutely brilliant in the comedy Ram Aur Shyam (1967) essaying a double role and displaying razor sharp comic timing but his career ran out of steam in the 1970s. Taking a break from acting, he made a grand comeback in character roles with Manoj Kumar`s Kranti (1981) and Ramesh Sippy`s Shakti (1982) where his larger than life author-backed role confirmed his legendary status. It was yet another brilliant performance. But unfortunately the film failed at the box-office. It won Dilip Kumar yet another Filmfare Award for Best Actor though.

Dilip Kumar has continued to do strong central character roles in films though his first official directorial venture Kalinga is yet to be released. Interestingly, Dilip Kumar refused Guru Dutt`s Pyaasa (1957) feeling that the character of the poet Vijay in the film was just an extension of his role in Devdas. And turned down 20th Century Fox`s offer of The Rains Came and David Lean`s offer of the role which ultimately went to Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

Dilip Kumar`s acting has inspired many Indian actors to try and copy his style but none have even remotely been able to match him. Which just goes on to prove that Dilip Kumar was sorry... is truly one and one of a kind.

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