Born as Mohammed Yusuf Khan to a Hindko-speaking family in Qissa Khawani Bazaar, Kumar was one of the twelve children of his parents. Kumar was schooled at Barnes School, Nashik. He grew up in the same neighborhood as Raj Kapoor, his childhood friend, and later his colleague in the film industry.
Legend, Tragedy King, The First Khan, God of acting and many other monikers were given to Kumar in his illustrious career but how he acquired his screen name is a story unto itself. He was born Mohammed Yusuf Khan but Devika Rani, who was head of the Bombay Talkies where he joined as an actor, wasn’t too happy with the name. Dilip Kumar, she thought, would suit his “romantic image” which he was bound to acquire and would also have a “secular appeal”. And so Dilip Kumar it was.
He has been credited for bringing a distinct form of method acting technique to cinema. It is a range of training and rehearsal techniques, as formulated by a number of different theatre practitioners, that seeks to encourage sincere and expressive performances through identifying with, understanding, and experiencing a character’s inner motivation and emotions. Kumar holds the record for most wins for the Filmfare Award for Best Actor and was also the inaugural recipient of the award.
Dilip Kumar debuted with the film Jwar Bhata (1944) which could not become a success in box office. He got his breakthrough with 1949 film Andaz, directed by Mehboob Khan. He starred alonside Raj Kapoor and Nargis. Shabnam was yet another blockbuster. He worked in over 65 films. In 1960, he played the role of Prince Salim in a highest grossing epic historical film in Indian History Mughal-e-Azam. Mughal-e-Azam was the highest-grossing Indian film through to the early 2010s. 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 colorised and re-released in 2004.
Kumar is best known for his roles in Andaz(romantic), Aan, Daag (social drama), Devdas (dramatic), Azaad (comical), Mughal-e-Azam, Ganga Jamuna (dacoit crime) and the comedy Ram Aur Shyam.
Kumar was a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India’s parliament, from 2000 to 2006. He was nominated by the INC to represent Maharashtra. Kumar utilized a significant portion of his MPLADS fund towards the construction and improvement of the Bandstand Promenade and the gardens at Bandra Fort at Lands End in Bandra.
In 1976, Kumar took a five-year break from film performances and returned with a character role in the star studded film Kranti (1981) and continued his career playing leading roles in films such as Shakti (1982), Mashaal (1984), Karma (1986) and Saudagar (1991). His last film was Quila (1998).
Kumar is widely considered one of the greatest actors in the history of Bollywood. He holds the Guinness World Record for winning the maximum number of awards by an Indian actor. Over his career, he received eight Filmfare Awards for Best Actor (with 19 total nominations) and a Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (1993). He also received a Special Recognition Filmfare Award at the 50th Filmfare Awards for being one of the first recipients of Filmfare Awards along with Lata Mangeshkar (whom he considered his dear sister) and Naushad Ali. Many great actors including Shah Rukh Khan consider Kumar as their inspiration.Kumar was also known as “Tragedy King” because of the depressing but award-winning roles he took.
Dilip Kumar’s love life always remained in spotlight because of controversies it gained. He was attracted to Madhubala and both were in a relationship for almost seven years. However the relation ended with Kumar testifying against her in a case related to the film Naya Daur. Vijayanthimala, a south Indian actress was chosen in place of Madhubala. Vijayanthi was the most often starred against Kumar as the lead actress. According to reports, he even handpicked sarees for every scene for his Ganga Jamuna co-star. In 1966, Kumar married 22 year younger actress Saira Bano and lived in Bandra. They never had any child. According to his autobiography, Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow, Banu conceieved in 1972 however lost the baby to complications. They never again tried for babay.
He took his last breath at Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai, on 7th July 2021 at 7;30 am. He had been suffering from prostate cancer. With this demise India lost one more diamond of the industry.
Mourning his demise, Amitabh Bachchan had shared a picture from their special magazine shoot and wrote, “My idol Dilip Saheb .. lost .. never before never after .. “an epic era has drawn curtains .. never to happen again Peace and duas.”