Dilip Kumar (born Muhammad Yusuf Khan; 11 December 1922)[1] is an Indian film actor, producer, screenwriter, and activist, known for his work in Hindi cinema. Also known as the Tragedy King,[1][2] he is credited with bringing realism to film acting since his first film which was released in 1944. He is considered one of the greatest and most influential actors of all time.[citation needed]

Kumar debuted as an actor in the film Jwar Bhata (1944), produced by Bombay Talkies. His career has spanned over six decades and over 65 films. Kumar is known for roles in films such as the romantic Andaz (1949), the heartwarming Babul (1950), the impassioned Deedar (1951), the swashbuckling Aan (1952), the dramatic Devdas (1955), the comical Azaad (1955), Naya Daur (1957), Yahudi (1958), Madhumati (1958), Kohinoor (1960), the epic historical Mughal-e-Azam (1960), the social dacoit crime drama Gunga Jamuna (1961), and the comedy Ram Aur Shyam (1967).

In 1976, Dilip Kumar took a five-year break from film performances and returned with a character role in the film Kranti (1981) and continued his career playing leading roles in films such as Shakti (1982), Karma (1986) and Saudagar (1991). His last film was Qila (1998).[3][4]

He is the winner of nine Filmfare Awards and is the first recipient of the Filmfare Best Actor Award (1954). He still holds the record for the most Filmfare Awards won for that category with eight wins. Shah Rukh Khan tied with him in 2011. Critics have acclaimed him as one of the greatest actors in the history of Indian cinema.[5][6][7]

Early life

Kumar was born Mohammad Yusuf Khan to Ayesha Begum & Lala Ghulam Sarwar Ali Khan in a Hindko-speaking Awan family[8][9][10] of 12 children on 11 December 1922 at home in the Qissa Khawani Bazaar area of Peshawar, British India (modern-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan). His father was a landlord and fruit merchant who owned orchards in Peshawar and Deolali. Mohammad Yusuf Khan was schooled at Barnes School, Deolali, Nashik.[11] He grew up in the same religiously mixed neighbourhood as Raj Kapoor, his childhood friend.[2] In the late 1930s, his family relocated to Chembur, Mumbai.[citation needed]

In 1940, while still in his teens and after an altercation with his father, Mohammad Yusuf Khan left home for Poona (Pune). With the help of a Parsi cafe owner and an elderly Anglo-Indian couple, Kumar met a canteen contractor. Without letting on his family antecedents, he got the job on the merit of his knowledge of good written and spoken English. He managed to set up a sandwich stall at the army club and when the contract ended, he headed home to Mumbai having saved Rs. 5000.[12]

In 1942, anxious to start some venture to help out his father with household finances, he met Dr. Masani at Churchgate Station, who asked him to accompany him to Bombay Talkies, in Malad. There he met actress Devika Rani, owner of Bombay Talkies, who asked him to sign up with the company on a salary of Rs. 1250 per month.[13] There he met actor Ashok Kumar who was to influence his acting style telling him to act "natural". He also met Sashadhar Mukherjee, and both these people became very close to Kumar over the years. Initially, Kumar helped out in the story-writing and scripting department because of his proficiency in Urdu language. Devika Rani requested him to change his name to Dilip Kumar, and later casted him in a lead role for Jwar Bhata (1944), which marked Kumar's entry into the Hindi film industry.[13]



Nargis, Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar in a scene from the film Andaz (1949).
Portrait of Dilip Kumar in 1946.

Dilip Kumar's first film was Jwar Bhata in 1944, which went unnoticed. After a few more unsuccessful films, it was Jugnu (1947), in which he starred alongside Noor Jehan, that became his first major hit at the box office.[14] His next major hits were the 1948 films Shaheed and Mela. He got his breakthrough role in 1949 with Mehboob Khan's Andaz, in which he starred alongside Raj Kapoor and Nargis. Shabnam also released that year was another box office hit[14]


Dilip Kumar in Devdas (1955).

Kumar went on to have success in the 1950s playing leading roles in several box office hits such as such as Jogan (1950), Babul (1950), Hulchul, (1951), Deedar (1951), Daag (1952), Shikast (1953), Amar (1954), Uran Khatola (1955), Insaniyat (1955), Devdas (1955), Naya Daur (1957), Yahudi (1958), Madhumati (1958) and Paigham (1959). These films established his screen image as the "Tragedy King".[15] Kumar briefly suffered from depression due to portraying many tragic roles.[16] He also played lighthearted roles in an attempt to shed his "tragedy king" image upon his psychiatrist's suggestion such as in[17] Mehboob Khan's big-budget 1952 swashbuckling musical Aan. This marked his first film to be shot in technicolor and to have a wide release across Europe with a lavish premiere in London.[18] He had further success with lighter roles as a thief in the comedy Azaad (1955), and as a royal prince in the romantic musical Kohinoor (1960)[15]

He was the first actor to win the Filmfare Best Actor Award (for Daag) and went on to win it a further seven times in his career.[19][20] He formed popular on-screen pairings with many of the top actresses at the time including Madhubala, Vyjayanthimala, Nargis, Nimmi, Meena Kumari and Kamini Kaushal.[21] 9 of his films in the 1950s were ranked in the Top 30 highest-grossing films of the decade.[22]

In the 1950s, Dilip Kumar became the first actor to charge 1 lakh (equivalent to 75 lakh or US$120,000 in 2017) per film.[23]


In 1960, he portrayed Prince Salim in K. Asif's big-budget epic historical film Mughal-e-Azam, which was the highest-grossing film in Indian film history for 11 years until it was surpassed by 1971 film Haathi Mere Saathi and later by the 1975 film Sholay.[24] If adjusted for inflation, Mughal-e-Azam was the highest-grossing Indian film through to the early 2010s, equivalent to over 1000 crore in 2011.[25][26]

The film told the story of Prince Salim, who revolts against his father Akbar (played by Prithviraj Kapoor), and falls in love with a courtesan (played by Madhubala). The film was mostly shot in black and white, with only some scenes in the latter half of the film shot in colour. 44 years after its original release, it was fully colourised and re-released in 2004.

In 1961, Kumar produced and starred in Ganga Jamuna opposite his frequent leading lady Vyjayanthimala and his brother Nasir Khan, this was the only film he produced. In 1962 British director David Lean offered him the role of "Sherif Ali" in his film Lawrence of Arabia (1962), but Dilip Kumar declined to perform in the movie.[27] The role eventually went to Omar Sharif, the Egyptian actor. Dilip Kumar comments in his much later released autobiography, "he thought Omar Sharif had played the role far better than he himself could have".[28] His next film Leader (1964) was a below average grosser at the box office.[29] He was the co-director alongside Abdul Rashid Kardar of his next release Dil Diya Dard Liya in 1966, but was uncredited as director. In 1967, Kumar played a dual role of twins separated at birth in the hit film Ram Aur Shyam. In 1968, he starred alongside Manoj Kumar and Waheeda Rehman in Aadmi. That same year he starred in Sangharsh with Sanjeev Kumar.


Kumar's career slumped in the 1970s with films like Dastaan (1972) failing at the box office. He starred alongside his real-life wife Saira Banu in Gopi (1970) which was success. They were paired again in his first and only Bengali language film Sagina Mahato (1970). A Hindi remake Sagina was made in 1974 with the same cast. He played triple roles as a father and his twin sons in Bairaag (1976) which failed to do well at the box office.[30][31] He personally regarded M.G.Ramachandran's performance in Enga Veetu Pillai better than his role in Ram Aur Shyam. He regards his performance in Bairaag much higher than that of Ram Aur Shyam. Though his performance in Bairaag and Gopi were critically acclaimed, he lost many film offers to act in leading roles to actors Rajesh Khanna and Sanjeev Kumar, from 1968 to 1987. He took a five-year hiatus from films from 1976 to 1981.[32]


In 1981, he returned to films as a character actor playing central roles in ensemble films. His comeback film was the multi-starrer Kranti which was the biggest hit of the year.[33] Appearing alongside an ensemble cast including Manoj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini and Shatrughan Sinha, he played the title role as a revolutionary fighting for India's independence from British rule.[34] He then formed a successful collaboration with director Subhash Ghai starting with Vidhaata (1982), in which he starred alongside Sanjay Dutt, Sanjeev Kumar and Shammi Kapoor. Later that year he starred alongside Amitabh Bachchan in Ramesh Sippy's Shakti which was only a below average grosser at the box office, but won him critical acclaim and his eighth and final Filmfare Award for Best Actor.[35] In 1984, he starred in Yash Chopra's social crime drama Mashaal opposite Anil Kapoor which failed at the box office but his performance was critically acclaimed.[36] He also appeared alongside Rishi Kapoor in Duniya (1984) and Jeetendra in Dharm Adhikari (1986).

His second collaboration with Subhash Ghai came with the 1986 ensemble action film Karma. Karma marked the first film which paired him opposite fellow veteran actress Nutan. Three decades earlier however, they were paired together in an incomplete and unreleased film titled Shikwa.[37][34][38] He acted opposite Nutan again in the 1989 film Kanoon Apna Apna.


In 1991, Kumar starred alongside fellow veteran actor Raaj Kumar in Saudagar, his third and last film with director Subhash Ghai. This was his second film with Raaj Kumar after 1959's Paigham. Saudagar was Kumar's last box office success.[39] In 1993, he won the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the industry for five decades.

In 1992, producer Sudhakar Bokade announced a film titled Kalinga which would officially mark Kumar's directorial debut after he had allegedly previously ghost directed Ganga Jamuna (1961) and Dil Diya Dard Liya (1967).[40] Kumar was also set to star in the title role with the cast including Raj Babbar, Raj Kiran, Amitoj Mann and Meenakshi Seshadri. After being delayed for several years, Kalinga was eventually left incomplete and shelved.[41][42]

In 1998, he made his last film appearance in the box office flop Qila, where he played dual roles as an evil landowner who is murdered and as his twin brother who tries to solve the mystery of his death.


In 2001, he was set to appear in a film titled Asar — The Impact alongside Ajay Devgan, which was shelved.[43] His classic films Mughal-e-Azam and Naya Daur were fully colorised and re-released in cinemas in 2004 and 2008 respectively.[44] An unreleased film he had shot and completed in 1990 titled Aag Ka Dariya was set for a theatrical release in 2013 but has not been released to date.[45]

Public life

Kumar with Saira Banu in recent years

Kumar was nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India, by the Indian National Congress for the period 2000–2006.[46]

Kumar launched his Twitter account and his first tweet was on his 89th birthday in 2011.[47]

Personal life

Dilip Kumar had fallen in love with Madhubala during the shooting of Tarana.They remained in a relationship for 7 years until the Naya Daur court case happened in which Dilip Kumar had given evidences against Madhubala and her father. Dilip Kumar stood by with the Chopras and hence their relationship ended. Dilip Kumar then married to actress Saira Banu, who was 22 years younger than him when they married in 1966. He married a second time in 1981 to Hyderabad socialite Asma Sahiba,[48][49] but the marriage ended in January 1983.[50] Dilip Kumar does not have any children. He is fluent in Urdu, Hindi, Hindko (his first language), Bhojpuri, English, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Pashto, and Farsi.[51]

Humanitarian work

  • Kumar has been involved with number of charitable and social initiatives. He planned and conceptualized the famous Jogger's Park in Bandra, along with Sunil Dutt and Oliver Andrade. Kumar used his good offices to get the necessary clearances from the Maharashtra Government for the establishment of this public park.
  • Kumar donated a significant portion of his MPLAD fund towards the construction and improvement of the Bandstand Promenande and the gardens at Bandra Fort at Lands End in Bandra.[52]
  • Dilip Kumar over decades has readily agreed to help the common man when time permitted. He has appeared at private events, inaugurated shops, offices of his friends and family and associates, without ever charging a single rupee or favors for appearance.

Actors launched in Hindi movie by Dilip Kumar

Kumar has always encouraged new talent in the Indian film industry. He believes that an actor does not necessarily have to bring any acting skill, rather a recognition that "acting is all about not acting." Kumar has an eye for identifying talent and often encouraged young people to work with him in front of the camera. Some of the talent identified by him who later on became big stars of their own include:


Dilip Kumar is widely considered one of the greatest actors in the history of Hindi cinema.[6][7][5] He holds the Guinness World Record for winning the maximum number of awards by an Indian actor.[54][55] He has received many awards throughout his career, including 8 Filmfare Best Actor awards and 19 Filmfare nominations.[56] He was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.[57] Gunga Jumna (1961), which he wrote, produced, and starred in, also received the National Film Award for Second Best Feature Film in Hindi, the Paul Revere Silver Bowl at the Boston International Film Festival, the Special Honour Diploma from the Czechoslovak Academy of Arts in Prague, and the Special Prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Kumar was appointed Sheriff of Mumbai (an honorary position) in 1980,[57] the Government of India honoured Kumar with the Padma Bhushan in 1991, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2015. The Government of Andhra Pradesh honoured Kumar with NTR National Award in 1997. The Government of Pakistan conferred Kumar with Nishan-e-Imtiaz, the highest civilian award in Pakistan, in 1998.[58][59][60][61] The ruling political party of Shiv Sena in Maharashtra had objected to this award and questioned Kumar's patriotism. However, in 1999 in consultation with the then Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Kumar retained the award.[62] He was honoured with CNN-IBN Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.[63]

Recognition by Government of India

The Government of India honoured him with:

Recognition by Government of Pakistan


Films that garnered Dilip the most recognition or awards include:

Dilip Kumar with Shah Rukh Khan.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Tragedy king Dilip Kumar turns 88". The Indian Express. 11 December 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  2. ^ a b http://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/bollywood/dilip-kumar-happy-birthday-turns-94-a-look-at-his-journey-india-first-method-actor-4420625/
  3. ^ Suresh Kohli (8 January 2004). "Celebrating The Tragedy King". The Hindu. Delhi, India. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  4. ^ Coomi Kapoor (8 October 2007). "Personalised fiction, anyone?". The Star (Malaysia). Malaysia. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  5. ^ a b A documentary on the life of Dilip Kumar. Bollywood Hungama. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  6. ^ a b Sharma, Vishwamitra (2007). Famous Indians of the 21st Century. Pustak Mahal. p. 196. ISBN 81-223-0829-5. 
  7. ^ a b Dawar, Ramesh (2006). Bollywood: yesterday, today, tomorrow. Star Publications. p. 8. ISBN 1-905863-01-2. 
  8. ^ "Nasir Khan – Interview (1952)". Cineplot. Cineplot.com. Retrieved 7 March 2018. 
  9. ^ "A Legend By Any Definition". Outlook India. Outlook India. Retrieved 7 March 2018. 
  10. ^ "'The King of Tragedy': Dilip Kumar's 92nd birthday celebrated in the city". The Express Tribune. 11 December 2014. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  11. ^ Renuka Vyavahare (28 December 2011). "Here's why Dilip Kumar speaks Marathi fluently!". Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  12. ^ Kumar, Dilip (2014). The Substance and the Shadow an autobiography (1 ed.). India: Hay House India. p. 102. ISBN 9789381398869. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  13. ^ a b Kumar, Dilip (28 July 2014). "Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow". Hay House, Inc. Retrieved 9 April 2017 – via Google Books. 
  14. ^ a b https://web.archive.org/web/20090206111551/http://boxofficeindia.com/showProd.php?itemCat=152&catName=MTk0Nw==
  15. ^ a b "rediff.com, Movies: Tragedy King Dilip Kumar". Rediff.com. Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  16. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20170328051144/http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/books/book-review-the-actor-among-stars/
  17. ^ https://www.filmfare.com/news/bollywood/dilip-kumars-most-memorable-performances-25574.html
  18. ^ https://moviemahal.net/2017/01/11/mehboobs-aan-1952-indian-cinemas-entry-into-europe
  19. ^ "Filmfare Best Actor Awards - History". Retrieved 9 April 2017. 
  20. ^ http://www.foraywhile.com/10-bollywood-actors-who-have-won-the-highest-filmfare-awards/
  21. ^ https://www.cinestaan.com/articles/2016/dec/11/3305/dilip-kumar-and-his-leading-ladies
  22. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20080117081648/http://www.boxofficeindia.com:80/showProd.php?itemCat=122&catName=MTk1MC0xOTU5&PHPSESSID=fa099368a445f18621d13fc8406a0f74
  23. ^ "B-Town rewind: The tale of the first Bollywood crore". Mid Day. 16 March 2014. 
  24. ^ https://www.webcitation.org/68fGo6gUs?url=http://www.hindu.com/fr/2009/07/31/stories/2009073150240400.htm
  25. ^ Worth Their Weight In Gold, Box Office India, 1 November 2011
  26. ^ Top 50 Film of Last 50 Years, Box Office India, 3 November 2011
  27. ^ "Dilip Kumar's Hollywood dis-connection". The Times Of India. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  28. ^ "Dilip of Arabia?". The Times of India. Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  29. ^ Box Office 1964. Box Office India. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  30. ^ Box Office 1972 Archived 10 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine.. Box Office India. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  31. ^ Box Office 1976 Archived 20 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.. Box Office India. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  32. ^ Meghnad Desai, Baron Desai (2004), Nehru's hero Dilip Kumar in the life of India, Lotus Collection, Roli Books, ISBN 978-81-7436-311-4.
  33. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20090201143714/http://boxofficeindia.com/showProd.php?itemCat=187&catName=MTk4MQ==
  34. ^ a b Top Earners 1980–1989 (Figures in Ind Rs). Box Office India. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  35. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20090201143719/http://boxofficeindia.com/showProd.php?itemCat=188&catName=MTk4Mg==
  36. ^ http://www.glamsham.com/movies/news/14/dec/news-when-thespian-dilip-kumar-floored-yash-chopra-with-his-performance.asp
  37. ^ https://upperstall.com/features/incomplete-films-shikwa/
  38. ^ "rediff.com, Movies: Forever Nutan". Retrieved 9 April 2017. 
  39. ^ Top grossers of 1991 (Figures in Ind Rs). Box Office India. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  40. ^ https://www.dailyo.in/arts/dilip-kumar-bollywood-hindi-films-raj-kapoor-omar-sharif-saira-banu-guru-dutt/story/1/7897.html
  41. ^ http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/movie-preview-vidhu-vinod-chopra-1942-a-love-story-and-dilip-kumar-kalinga/1/302272.html
  42. ^ Asif Noorani (11 December 2012). "Dilip Kumar: 90 fruitful years Entertainment". Dawn.Com. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  43. ^ http://www.mid-day.com/entertainment/2001/aug/14759.htm
  44. ^ "The Sunday Tribune - Spectrum". Retrieved 9 April 2017. 
  45. ^ http://www.hindustantimes.com/bollywood/unreleased-23-year-old-dilip-kumar-starrer-set-to-hit-theatres-soon/story-8jCHAc0WvOSqCH5SHHuMLJ.html
  46. ^ "Alphabetical List Of Former Members Of Rajya Sabha Since 1952". Rajya Sabha Secretariat. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  47. ^ "Dilip Kumar joins Twitter on 89th birthday". Hindustan Times. 13 December 2011. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  48. ^ "Eyecatchers". 
  49. ^ "When Dilip Kumar Married Asma". 
  50. ^ Bhatia, Ritu (2 September 2012). "Don't mind the (age) gap". India Today. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  51. ^ https://mobile.twitter.com/thedilipkumar/status/538374596118855681
  52. ^ http://bbrtbandra.org/information-issues/
  53. ^ http://www.rediff.com/movies/special/would-be-criminal-if-i-stopped-saira-from-acting/20170814.htm
  54. ^ "Dilip Kumar is my idol and inspiration: Amitabh Bachchan — The Times of India". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 11 December 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  55. ^ Kumar-Guinness-World-Records-TV-show.htm Dilip Kumar on TV show?
  56. ^ "Things that u don't know about Filmfare Awards...(Part IV)". Sify Movies. 27 February 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  57. ^ a b "Lifetime Achievement (Popular)". Filmfare Awards. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  58. ^ The Indian Express, Meghnad Desai (2014). "Dilip Kumar's autobiography reveals his journey from Peshawar to Bombay". p. 1. Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  59. ^ BBC News, India (2014). "Indian media: Dilip Kumar's Pakistan home a heritage site". p. 1. Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  60. ^ The Hindu, National (2016). "Dilip Kumar's home in Pak. on verge of collapse". p. 1. Archived from the original on 13 December 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016. 
  61. ^ India Today, PTI (2015). "Dilip Kumar's ancestral home in Pakistan to be turned into a museum". p. 1. Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
  62. ^ "Dilip Kumar decides to retain Nishan-e-Imtiaz". Rediff.com. 11 July 1999. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  63. ^ "IOTY 2008: ISRO boss, team Chandrayaan". CNN IBN. 3 February 2009. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  64. ^ http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/film-star-dilip-kumar-appointed-sheriff-of-bombay-by-maharashtra-governor-sadiq-ali/1/427683.html

External links